Thursday, 28 February 2019

Cruise & Maritime Voyages offers savings of up to $18,000 on Grand World Voyages

Columbus
Adventurous travellers can currently save up to $9,000 per person ($18,000 per cabin) on 2020 Grand World Voyages with Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV).

CMV is tempting guests with a host of added benefits and savings on already reduced fares, including bonus savings up to $6,300 per person, generous air credits up to $2,700 per person and free CMV Value Additions Packages, on a range ofextended voyages sailing between London and Sydney on board its flagship Columbus until 18 March 2019 (unless sold out prior).

Guests can be captivated by the magnificent vistas, tantalising flavours and historic wonders of Asia on a 70-night voyage from Sydney to London now starting from just $9,264 (per person, twin share, Voyager Innercabin).

Or, guests can been thralled by the ancient ruins and pristine beaches of the Caribbean and Mexico and spellbound by the dramatic volcanoes, thundering waterfalls and friendly locals in the South Pacific on a 50-night voyage from London to Sydney in a Deluxe Balcony Cabin,for as little as $251 per night (per person, twin-share).

For guests tempted by both voyages, the sale also gives travellers the chance to enjoy exceptional savings and benefits on the 120-night Grand Round the World Voyage, starting and ending in London (Tilbury).

These include bonus savings up $11,160 per person, as well as up to £1,250 per person in onboard credit and free CMV Value Additions Packages for select cabin categories (valued at up to $1,080 per person).

Departing London on 6 January 2020, explorers can voyage across globe, from the Azores and the Caribbean, to Japan and Vietnam, and to the ancient sites of Egypt and Jordan, visiting 27 countries in total.

Excellent value for Solo Travellers
By popular demand, in addition to the 150 twin cabins already available to Solo Travellers, CMV has also made more twin cabins available at discounted single fares on these voyages, including Premium Oceanview and Balcony Cabins, so those who want to take a long voyage solo can jump at this opportunity. Solo travellers can save up to $7,200 in a Deluxe Balcony Single Cabin.

With her spacious lounge areas, comfortable accommodation and wide range of facilities, Columbus is the ideal ship for such an adventure.

CMV’s intimate country-club ambiance on board its ships has made the cruise line a favourite choice among couples and solo guests that enjoy a traditional,British-style of cruising.

To book, visit CMVAustralia.com, call1300 307 934 or contact your travel agent.

TAT Welcomes Bangkok's Newest Sightseeing Bus Service Siam Hop

The launch of Siam Hop, a new hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus service that covers many of Bangkok's major tourist sights and entertainment, business and shopping locations, is much welcomed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

According to Siam Hop's press statement, the service is designed to help tourists plan trips in Bangkok with comfort and safety, as well as provide greater use of their time. There are four different routes available:

HOP Heritage: The Irresistible Charm of Siam: comprising 15 stops, this route focuses on the famous landmarks of Rattanakosin Island, which is Bangkok's historic district and home to such icons; as the, Grand Palace and Wat Pho.

HOP CBD: The 10 stops on this route offer flexibility to explore the urban charm and vibrancy of the Silom, Suriwongse and Charoen Krung business districts.

HOP Entertainment: This route also of 10 stops makes its way through the Ratchadaphisek and Ladprao areas, making it an ideal choice for those tourists with entertainment on the mind.

HOP Shopping: Perfect for indulging in the shopping wonderland that is Bangkok, there are 14 stops on this route along the famed Sukhumvit shopping district.

Tourists can choose from three convenient Siam Hop packages at varied prices, including a one-day package for 799 Baht, two-day package for 1,300 Baht, and three-day package for 1,700 Baht. Further flexibility is provided with the tickets having a validity period of six months.

Along their chosen route, Siam Hop passengers will find the Siam Hop stops are clearly displayed. Most of the stops are situated on the roadside.

The Siam Hop application provides useful information on the different routes operated and their schedules, details on tourist attractions in the eight languages of English, Chinese, Bahasa Indonesia, Japanese, Korean, Russian, German and Thai, and updates on hot dining and shopping spots at each location.

Free Wi-Fi and USB ports for smartphone charging are also available on the buses, which are air-conditioned and certified by the Department of Land Transport.

Website: www.tourismthailand.org/au

A Tassie Cellar Door Is Popping Up in a Laneway!

Experience the best of Tasmania's wine and produce along a vibrant, intimate laneway. 

IN A NUTSHELL 
For one day only, Three Bottle Man, in partnership with some of Tassie's best producers, will transform part of intimate and vibrant Bulletin Place laneway in the CBD.

Expect multiple stalls showcasing Tasmania's best wines and spirits, interspersed with live oyster shucking, interactive cheese stations, food stalls, roaming trays of delectable hot food, and more. 

THE WINE An extensive variety of award-winning wines will be presented from some of Tassie's finest wineries and producers including Oatley Wines, Vintage & Vine, Samuel Smith & Sons, Red & Wine. 

Expect over a dozen of the most popular Tasmanian drops; including Josef Chromy, Priory Ridge, Janz, Ninth Island, and many more. 

THE FOOD The wine and spirit stalls will be complemented by meat and seafood stalls, live oyster shucking, cheese stations, and roaming food trays throughout the late afternoon and evening. 

The food will be crafted from the freshest Tassie ingredients and produce by Michelin Star-experienced chef, Raphael Szurek, from the chef-hatted Silvester's Restaurant.
“Three Bottle Man maintains a strong focus on all things Australian, being one of the city's only Australian beverages-only venues. We will dedicate the coming year to showcasing the incredible variety of produce, wine, and spirits available from and unique to each state.”
“A warm autumn Thursday evening spent strolling along a cozy laneway with our friends or workmates; sampling oysters, cheese, and wine – sounds positively heavenly. It's the perfect early start to the weekend, really!” – Kate, Marriott

TASTE OF AUSTRALIA: The Laneway Cellar Door will be the inaugural event to mark the launch of the year-long Taste of Australia series, showcasing the unique and signature food and beverage offerings of each of Australia's six states over 2019. Each state and their best produce, wine and products will be showcased with unique, exciting activations throughout this period.


THE PRICING 

Ticket cost: $25 - Includes 4 tokens and glassware hire. 
1 token per drink; 2 tokens per food item. 

Additional drink tokens: 
3 for $12; 6 for $20; 10 for $30 

What: Laneway Cellar Door | Taste of Tasmania 
When: 7th March 2018, 4:00pm - 8:00pm 
Where: Bulletin Place Laneway (Three Bottle Man) 
Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/569489386881037/

LINKS

Spencer Travel's Exclusive India Tour

From Mumbai's dabbawallas and Old Delhi's markets, to the Taj Mahal and lavish Taj Hotels, Spencer Travel has announced an exclusive 12-day Spencer Gems India journey to be hosted from 13 – 25 October 2019. 
 
This fully-escorted luxury exploration of fascinating India for just 20 people is a collaboration between renowned Sydney travel agency, Spencer Travel; luxury tour operator, Peirce & Leslie; and acclaimed Taj Hotels.
 
"Our custom-designed and luxurious small-group excursion to India is our second Spencer Gems journey," said Spencer Travel Managing Director, Penny Spencer.
 
"In October 2018, we escorted a wonderful small group to Mexico and Cuba. We're confident we have the Spencer Gems journey ingredients just right and we look forward to showcasing them again in India," added Ms Spencer.
 
Spencer Gems journeys are all about genuine experiences in some of the world's most exciting destinations with plenty of creature comforts, luxury touches and down-time.
 
All 12 nights of the Spencer Gems India journey will be spent at a luxury Taj hotel including the legendary Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur and Taj Rambagh Palace in Jaipur.
 
Originally built in 1835, Rambagh Palace has been home to a queen's favourite handmaiden, a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, and later as the residence of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and his queen, Maharani Gayatri Devi.
 
Most meals are included in the trip price and feature a number of unique culinary experiences, a meal served at a local noble family house in Jaipur and lunch at the famed The Bombay Canteen.
 
There is also a lunchtime visit to a Langar - a community kitchen that produces huge volumes of curry for visiting pilgrims and anybody looking for a hot meal. Spencer Gems guests may like to serve the food themselves or help in the kitchen making rotis.
 
Guests are met and escorted by Spencer Gems staff every step of the journey including at airports when they are welcomed by a representative and assisted with arrival formalities.
 
Other Spencer Gems India journey experiences include:
 
  • Sunrise and sunset visits to the astonishing Taj Mahal, Agra.
  • A cycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of the 300-year-old Chandni Chowk market in Old Delhi.
  • A visit to Sarnath, a short distance from Varanasi city - where The Buddha, in 500 BC, gave his first sermon after gaining enlightenment.
  • Sailing upstream on the Ganges river from Varanasi to Dashashwamedh Ghat in time for the evening 'aarti' ceremony, when priests perform the rituals to put the river gods to sleep and to ward off evil.
  • In Udaipur, taking a private boat cruise with cocktails on a Gangaur boat - an antique Royal barge of the house of Mewar.
  • From Mumbai, heading to Churchgate Station to see the famed dabbawallas or 'lunch box carriers' in action. Some 5000 dabbawallas collect and deliver 175,000 lunches every day, then return the empty tiffins. Their error rate is fewer than four in every million transactions. Not surprisingly, the dabbawallas have been the subject of many studies and scholarly articles.
  • Watching Mumbai come to life on a morning tour that takes in the city's clamorous and chaotic docks, as well as seeing milkmen, bakers and newspaper delivery men in action.
  • Forts and palaces - including the remarkable City Palace in Udaipur, cultural and architectural gems, temples and astronomical observatories, bazaars and authentic local experiences.
 
The Spencer Gems India journey from 13 - 25 October 2019 is priced from $11,649 per person (land only).
 
For more information and bookings please contact gems@spencertravel.com.au or call Spencer Travel on (02) 9281 5477.

RECENT ACCOR NEW HOTEL OPENINGS

FV by Peppers
INTRODUCING FV BY PEPPERS: Brisbane's hottest new hotel, FV by Peppers officially opened its doors in March 2018. Inspired by New York's flatiron building, with New York influences throughout, FV by Peppers' three towers are called Flatiron, Valley House and No. 1. With two out of the three 30-storey towers now complete (and the third scheduled to open mid-2019), the $600-million high-end development in Fortitude Valley's Alfred Street will comprise of 986 spacious one and two bedroom apartments. Luxe amenities at FV by Peppers include a heated u-shaped skyline pool with spectacular views and in-pool seating overlooking Brisbane's CBD, a moonlight cinema, yoga studio, fully-equipped gym, and three beautiful VIP private spa lounges which are available for hire and  include a spa, bar and dining area overlooking Brisbane's CBD and Story Bridge. Visit www.peppers.com.au/fv

SOUTH WEST SYDNEY'S NEWEST FIVE-STAR HOTEL, THE WILLIAM INGLIS HOTEL, MGALLERY BY SOFITEL: Opening in January 2018, The William Inglis Hotel, MGallery By Sofitel is a $140 million project developed by William Inglis & Sons. Celebrating the history of Inglis and the thoroughbred industry, the hotel features a boutique equine theme throughout, with 144 deluxe accommodation rooms including 22 luxurious suites and one presidential suite. With 23 function rooms, along with a wedding pavilion nestled among the stunning garden, the Big Barn is one of the hotel's most popular spaces, made from recycled timber from the Newmarket complex. The hotel also features, Talisa Spa Wellness Centre, a 20 metre heated pool overlooking the precinct and The Newmarket restaurant boasting a paddock to plate style menu.

MANTRA ALBURY HOTEL OPENS ITS DOORS: The first hotel to open in Albury in more than three years, Mantra Albury Hotel made a big impact to NSW's Riverina region when it opened in July 2018.  The $40 million development comprises of eight levels and 146 one and two bedroom studios. All of the hotel's guest rooms boast floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Albury and out to the Victorian Alps and Kiewa Valley. Onsite amenities include a restaurant and bar called La Tierra, 24-hour reception, an internet lounge, a fully equipped gymnasium, conferencing and events facilities that can cater for more than 200 people, and an exclusive Sky Lounge available to hire on the top floor with sky lighting, wet bar and comfortable lounge seating. Visit www.mantrahotels.com/mantra-albury-hotel

PEPPERS SILO HOTEL
LAUNCESTON'S EXTRAORDINARY PEPPERS SILO HOTEL OPENS:Launceston's iconic new hotel, Peppers Silo Hotel, has received great acclaim since opening its doors in June 2018. Originally erected in 1960, the Kings Wharf grain silos were left unused for decades until construction breathed new life into the structure, transforming the silo barrels into a state-of-the-art contemporary new hotel. The ten-level hotel features 108 guest rooms, including 52 inside the barrels of the former silos, a restaurant and bar called Grain of the Silos, undercover car parking, conference facilities for up to 500 people, and an integrated lobby and reception space. Located in a prime position on the edge of the Tamar River and close to the beautiful Cataract Gorge, the once unused silo barrels have transformed into a $25-million luxury-by-design redevelopment which includes one and two bedroom apartments. Onsite amenities include a fully-equipped gym, day spa, function centre, private dining rooms and Grain of the Silos restaurant and cocktail bar. Visit www.peppers.com.au/silo

ACCORHOTELS' FIRST VERTICAL DUAL-BRANDED HOTEL NOVOTEL MELBOURNE CENTRAL & IBIS MELBOURNE CENTRAL: Opening in November 2018, towering above its discreet location on Little Londsdale Street, the dual-branded new-build Novotel Melbourne Central & Ibis Melbourne Central, connects travellers to the centre of Australia's cultural capital. Immerse in Melbourne's famous laneways and shopping only steps away, or take advantage of the free tram network connecting all corners of the city. Housed in a 35-floor tower, the complex is home to restaurants Goldie Canteen + Brews and Pretty Boy Italian Steakhouse, as well as Floyd's bar. Novotel Melbourne Central & Ibis Melbourne Central boast three meeting rooms with natural daylight in a tech savvy environment for up to 50 guests.

MELBOURNE'S NEWEST PLAYGROUNDS TO DINE, SHOP AND STAY IS NOVOTEL MELBOURNE SOUTH WHARF: Since it opened in April 2018, Novotel Melbourne South Wharf is providing an exceptional level of service, right next door to the DFO South Wharf direct factory outlets. Towering 26 levels above Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), the hotel stands out amongst the crowd with its distinctive gold façade and sophisticated fitout, reflecting the very latest in hotel and interior design trends.

SO/Auckland 
INTRODUCING NEW ZEALAND'S MOST AUDACIOUS HOTEL SO/AUCKLAND:Situated in the Britomart district, SO/Auckland has made a bold statement in the heart of the city since opening in November 2018, with its playful, bold and audacious avant-garde design by the hotel's signature designer WORLD. SO/ Auckland is a designer masterpiece which playfully showcases a cosmopolitan soul, intertwined with the vibrant urbanite spirit. SO/ boasts six energetic conference spaces for up to 200 delegates, state-of-the-art technology and catering from a kitchen helmed by Michelin-starred Chef, Marc De Passorio. SO/ Auckland is the city's newest place to see and be seen.

Website: www.accorhotels.com

Why Canada's Spring and Summer Events Are Hot, Hot, Hot!

During spring and summer in Canada, the snow and ice gives way to sun, fun and festivities. Read on for seven of the best upcoming events, from coast to coast.
  1. Snowbombing Canada, Sun Peaks
This is the ultimate party on the slopes. Europe's biggest music festival on snow is a must-attend event when it lands in the British Columbia ski resort of Sun Peaks, for anyone who loves perfect powder and epic tunes. With world-class DJs and musical acts playing for three full days from 5 – 7 April 2019, Snowbombing is the perfect blend of dance tunes and incredible skiing or snowboarding. This year's line-up includes Illenium and Cypress Hill.
  1. Bluesfest, Ottawa
In July 2019, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest celebrates its 25th anniversary. Don't let the name fool you; the RBC Bluesfest includes acts of all genres of music, from KISS and Lady Gaga, to folk band City and Colour, to rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This year, Church joins Backstreet Boys at this two-week event in the heart of summer at Ottawa's LeBreton Flats Park on the grounds of the Canadian War Museum, from 4 – 14 July 2019.
  1. Winnipeg Folk Festival, Manitoba
Australia's own singer/song writer, Courtney Barnett headlined with Sheryl Crow last year at the hugely popular Winnipeg Folk Festival at the Birds Hill Provincial Park. Immerse yourself in Manitoba's great outdoors and soak up the foot-tapping beats with everything from world music, indie-rock, electronic, country, and Celtic, with more than 75 artists rocking nine stages throughout the festival. Don't forget the kids! The Chickadee Big Top and Family Arena serve up live children's music, puppetry, face-painting and crafts. The festival takes place from 11 – 14 July 2019 and this year's line-up to be announced on 6 March.
  1. Dawson City Music Festival, Yukon Territory
Kick up your heels with like-minded, music-loving souls in the heart of Yukon's Klondike at the Dawson City Music Festival, taking place in July 2019. Legendary for attracting the best of Canada's finest musical talent, there's no better setting for this eclectic festival than historical Dawson City and the spectacular northern wilderness. Yukon's most anticipated music event on the festival calendar includes evening performances and afternoon workshops in intimate venues. 
  1. Festival d'été de Québec
Is 11 days enough time to explore 300 shows and 10 stages? Find out at the Festival d'été de Québec from 4 – 14 July. As the festival takes over the historic district of Quebec City, you'll be treated to world-class musical acts like Sting and Peter Gabriel, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fetty Wap, Selena Gomez, Duran Duran, and more. With over 40 years of history, you know that this festival has good times and even better shows down to a fine art. Don't forget to check out the street performers and night festivities too!
  1. Calgary Stampede, Alberta
Now is the time to book your ticket to the world-renowned Calgary Stampede, the place where hides are raw, hearts untamed, and the world's toughest rodeo stock walk on two legs. From 5 – 14 July 2019 thousands of Aussies will flock to Alberta, Canada, donning cowboy/cowgirl boots and feasting on the Stampede's infamous carnival fare. The Calgary Stampede is as much about the music as it is about rodeo. Previous line-ups included Alessia Cara, Nelly Furtado, Ben Harper, KISS, and the Dixie Chicks. This year's line-up will be announced next month.
  1. Just For Laughs, Montreal
Every summer, the largest comedy festival in the world tickles Montreal into a laughing frenzy with galas, street art, theatre productions, and stand-up performances. Hosting some 1,700 artists from 19 countries as well as over 2 million festival-goers, Just For Laughs offers 1,600 performances, including 1,200 free outdoor shows. Watch a selection of last year's gags to get you in the laughing mood! The festival runs from 10 – 28 July 2019.
GETTING THERE
Air Canada offers daily direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane, with direct flights from Melbourne available three times per week. Year-round direct flights from Melbourne to Vancouver are also available, with connecting flights to the eastern provinces and northern territories. Direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver are also available on Qantas.

Crystalbrook Collection Unveils First Preview Image for Luxurious Port Douglas Marina Hotel Development

Crystalbrook Collection Hotels and Resorts has today unveiled the first much-awaited image of their proposed development at Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, Port Douglas.
The release of the image coincided with the owner of Crystalbrook Collection, Ghassan Aboud, travelling to the idyllic coastal town to hold meetings with Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu today.
The image provides a preview of a luxury 100-room five-star hotel and a 30-room ultra-lux hotel. Also included in the development is a destination Eléme Day Spa, a signature panoramic bar and café, 15 apartments and five waterfront villas.
The location of the development is to the right of the existing marina, enabling marina and retail operations to continue throughout construction.
While visiting Port Douglas, Mr Aboud said that he was very happy with how plans for the development were progressing: “Our CEO Mark Davie and his team have been working on these plans for some time now. I had a very positive meeting with the Council today and we are confident we will be able to deliver a great outcome for the community, the Council, visitors and for Crystalbrook Collection.”
Following today's meeting, Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said: “It was fantastic to have such a productive and positive meeting with Ghassan Aboud and his team. They have a really exciting vision for the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina that has the potential to revitalise Port Douglas and stimulate the local economy. We are particularly happy with their decision to support marina businesses during construction and create a vibrant area for the public. The initial concept designs have my full support and we can't wait for the formal development application to be lodged.”
Crystalbrook Collection said they intended to lodge the Development Application (DA) in the coming two – three months. The commencement of construction would depend on when approvals are receive

Website: crystalbrookcollection.com

Thailand Welcomes the World's Most Neighbourhood-Centric Brand Hotel Indigo in Phuket

The exciting neighbourhood of Patong, Phuket has welcomed the newly opened hip and chic 180 room Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong, a unique hotel experience that provides guests with a special connection to the buzzing local area.

Hotel Indigo draws its energy from the unique features of Patong, including the exciting nightlife, charming fishing villages, lush tropical rainforests, beautiful beaches, spectacular sunsets and turquoise waters off the Andaman Sea.
 
The Hotel is a gallery of local artworks and interior design elements highlighting the culture and history of this unique neighbourhood. It tells the story of the fishing villages with their intricately and brightly painted fishing boats and a feature a stylised representation of lantern-lit boats in the ocean. This canvas reflecting Patong's culture and history adds to the guest experience across the Hotel. 
Guests will be inspired and engaged by the friendly service, and localauthentic approach to dining sets the stage for a refreshingly different Patong journey.   
We are located in Patong Beach, one of the most exciting neighbourhoods of Phuket, said Mr Simon Douthett, General Manager of Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong. “There's no other place quite as electrifying as this. With authenticity at its very core, our design-driven property is locally inspired and serves as a good base to experience Phuket and what the island has to offer,” he added. 
“Our brand is committed to delivering an individualized experience, with a service ethos that will go the extra mile to help our guests take full advantage of all they can do in the local area,” added Simon. 
Vibrant and sophisticated, the 180 guest rooms and suites feature plush bedding and spa-inspired bathrooms, allowing guests an opportunity to experience Patong's serenity and authentic heritage in a fresh and inviting way. There are six categories of rooms and suites, including the Retreat View Room, a modern sanctuary with calming garden views; Oasis Pool Access Room, where guests can enjoy access to a personal terrace and the pool, and the Executive Suite — the ultimate indulgence with 72 square metres of stylish space. 

The World of Gastronomy   
There are several lifestyle dining offerings at Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong, helmed by Chef Morten Nielsen, who takes a very cosmopolitan approach to gastronomy.  
Guests and locals alike can enjoy the Hotel's contemporary restaurantButcher's Garden, which is authentic, social and local and an escape from the buzzing nightlife in the oasis of the Hotel's forest. To tease and please curious palates, the restaurant is a butchery, charcoal grill and wine shop all in one, offering fresh local meat and seafood  
Guests can stay plugged in to the beat of the Patong tune in the craft beer and cocktail garden, Pots, Pints & TikisOffering a casual street-front drinking experience, it features outdoor and indoor spaces and has a casual and rustic bar — the perfect venue for enjoying craft beers, small bites or Chalong Bay rum cocktails. 
No Name Bar is sophisticated hidden locale showcasing an ever-evolving, locally inspired crafted beverage experience, only accessible with a password. This is the only cocktail bar in town to deliver bespoke perfume-inspired drinks menu to create a taste and smell sensation, combined with the first and only cigar room in Patong allowing guests to engage in the rich culture of cigars.  

Leisure & Meeting Facilities 
Leisure facilities range from local cultural explorations to body and mind wellness. 
There are two flexible Conference, Events and Meeting facilities and a rooftop deck catering for everything from intimate meetings to large corporate events. 
stylish and fully-equipped 24-hour Fitness Centre, including a full-size Muay Thai boxing ring. A space for those wanting to keep active, it features minimalist decor and light color schemeVarious Muay Thai stances are prominently emblazoned on the columns in the gym and have been specially designed to inspire and educate guests.    
Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong offers three flexible meeting spaces, including two meeting rooms and a rooftop garden called The Cloud Rooftop Swimming Pool & Pool Bar.  With free off-street parking, onsite tech support and an inventive approach to gastronomy, it is an ideal venue for intimate meetings and large corporate events 
Kebsup Group Company Limited and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) have signed a management agreement to open the first Hotel Indigo® in Phuket. 
To find out more visit:  http://phuketpatong.hotelindigo.com/ and to book, please call +66 76 609 900 or email hotelindigopatong.reservations@ihg.com 

Community Grants help fund 24 fabulous Parade floats

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and supporting partner Google today announce the recipients of the third annual SGLMG Community Parade Grants Program.

The Mardi Gras Community Parade Grants Program is designed to fund and support a diverse range of community ideas and provide grants to individuals, community groups and not-for-profit groups to help lift their parade entries to a completely new artistic level. The program is proudly supported by Google.

A total of $66,000 in grants has been divided among 24 applicants from all over Australia, to help create extra fabulous floats in celebration of the anniversary.

 "Sydney Mardi Gras identified that many sections of our community need support to participate in the annual Mardi Gras Parade; its take a huge amount of time, people and money to create an amazing Parade entry and it’s important that our parade is accessible to all," says Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu. "With the support of Google, and through our own philanthropic fundraising, we’ve been able to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to LGBTQI non-profit and community organisations in this program over the past three years.”

 “From a stunning Rainbow Thylacine by the only community-run LGBTIQA organization in Launceston, to The Institute of Many’s passionate celebration of fearless love, the recipients of these grants each have a powerful message that we’re looking forward to seeing on Parade night,” said Casu.

Google’s Tea Uglow says: "Mardi Gras is only as awesome as the people it represents. We are delighted that for a third year Google can help grass-roots LGBTQIA communities amplify the epic (and sparkle) of their Mardi Gras floats. Google proudly affirms and supports LGBTQIA people and their allies and we’re excited to continue our partnership with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras."

The Mardi Gras Parade is Mardi Gras' flagship event and takes place along Oxford Street on Saturday 2 March 2019.
The Parade attracts more than 12,000 participants and is the largest LGBTQI parade of its kind in the world.

HERE IS THE FULL LIST OF PARADE GRANT RECIPIENTS:
Aboriginal Project ACON
We service the LGBTIQA+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community across NSW, providing holistic health services. Our message for the audience is education. We are the oldest thriving culture, a culture of acceptance and love. We will be showcasing our leaders within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LBGTI community. Leaders who had no choice but to be fearless in paving the way for us younger mob.

Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group
The peak national gynaecological cancer research organisation. Our consumers, members & donors are from the LGBTQI+ community. 'Save the Box' is our theme. It is about raising awareness about gynaecological cancer. It is never talked about and women are dying. It is time to break the silence and take some action. 'Save the Box' is about shouting it from the roof tops. Don't be embarrassed or fearful to talk about your lady parts. Talking about signs and symptoms with friends and Dr's could save your life!

Bentstix Hockey Club Inc
Bentstix was established in 1996 during the Mardi Gras festival as a network of like-minded players - growing to become one of the largest and most successful LGBTQI hockey clubs, with over 80 active members. Parade theme: FEARLESS CHAMPIONS. We are Fearless on the field - we play hard and wear our rainbow socks with pride in leagues across Sydney. We have experienced homophobic abuse on and off the field but are Champions in our game (with medals) plus won Gold at the 2018 World Gay Games, Gold at the 2017 World OutGames.

Bi+ Visibility
Bi+ Visibility is a partnership between Bi+ orgs around the nation, aimed to build community, fight bi-phobia and bi-erasure and address the significant mental health issues our community face. #Bseen - Bisexuals are ready to 'Be seen!' Bisexuality is real, Bi+ belongs in the parade & to the Bi+ community watching - ""We See You'. Our primary goal within the parade is to show bisexual+ individuals around the nation that they are represented, included and valued members of the LGBTIQ+ community. We want to show bi+ identifying people watching from the crowd or sitting at home who may have never met another bi+ identifying person, who may be experiencing bi-phobia, bi-erasure or discrimination based on their sexual orientation - that we are real, we are here and there is a huge community out there here to support them.

Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club
We aim to provide a social & fitness-focused sporting outlet for the LGBTQ community, friends, family and supporters. Our club's strongest asset is our team spirit with over 100 members. "We will be creating a circus theme with all the different characters to show our diversity, this will be lead by Part lioness, part dragon tamer, our parade lead is a gorgeous creature who will crack the whip. Supported by our figureheads all inspired by animals from the Chinese Zodiac." Fearless Freakshow - We want to show that we are fearless on the water and fearlessly fabulous off it. We will celebrate the diversity in our club with the characters you get at the circus.

Diversity Launceston
Diversity Launceston is the only active community-run, not for profit organisation in Launceston. We run events to provide the LGBTIQA community opportunities to meet and form connections. Our float celebrates the Tasmanians who campaigned tirelessly in their efforts to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania, and we pay homage to them through the recreation of the Rainbow Thylacine. Diversity wants to encourage Tasmania's LGBTIQ community to continue to live and love Fearlessly.

FOBGAYS+
We are a grassroots community network of friends and family of brown (South Asian) gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer+ identifying people. Our theme is FEARLESS TOGETHER. We want to celebrate and showcase the diversity of all our South Asian cultural identities. We will march as a procession of animals found throughout the jungles of different South Asian countries, wearing traditional South Asian clothes and textiles. Our marchers from all parts of South Asian will show that while we are made up of diverse communities and cultures, together we are strong and fearless in our support of queer people and rights.

freegaynhappy
FGNHAPPY started in 2004 and we aimed to support those in the LGBTQI+ who struggled to find their place in the community. It was created to give people a safe and loving family. The theme is unicorns and the float is called mirror mirror. We want to tackle people’s perceptions of themselves and others We will do this by creating a scene where everyone is dressed as a unicorn and looking into a big mirror and seeing how spectacularly special and magical they are.

Harbour City Wrestling Club
We are a not-for-profit LGBTIQ and straight friendly wrestling club based in Kings Cross.  Majority of the club members are a part of the LGBTIQ community. The theme is 'The Wrestlers of Oz' which is a take on the Wizard of Oz.  The message is that we are wrestlers of different, shapes, sizes, genders and sexuality from Sydney and our sister club in Melbourne. The Citizens of Oz are fearlessly taking on the Flying Monkeys in a battle for the Emerald City including a few LGBTIQ asylum seekers marching for the first time.

NSW Trans Youth Alliance
A Facebook group of nearly 200 trans young people and allies mostly aged from 16 to 22. The Theme is Trans and Proud- Trans is Beautiful. Many of these kids have had to be fearless to come out and be themselves. For many of them it also taken courage to march and show themselves to the world.

Party Passport
Our float is for LGBTQIA+ people from the Northern Territory & their supporters. It is run by Party Passport, a queer-owned & run, NT based events company. Our events celebrate diversity & inclusion. "Theme: RED HOT TERRITORY- FIREY, FEARLESS, FABULOUS – “you can be who you are, wherever you are.” Our goal is to promote visibility for rural and remote LGBTQIA+ people and giving NT presence on the international stage of Mardi Gras.

People with Disability Australia
PWDA has recently engaged LGBTQIA+ people through a Disability Support Organisation (DSO) that encouraged peer groups to come together to discuss the issues facing LGBTQIA+ people with disability. The need for accessible transport is our key message so that people can access the LGBTQIA+ community & events, removing feelings of isolation, dehumanisation and frustration. The fearless express will also promote the freedom to express our sexuality in a fearless manner. As people with disability (PWD), we will be fearless in the way we protest for human rights and access to transport. Moreover, like the LGBTQIA+ community, PWD will face daily attitudinal challenges.

R U OK?
R U OK?'s mission is to inspire everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. We continue to encourage support in the LGBTQI community.
Fearless Friends - They give strength to others when they need it most.  Our marchers will represent the diversity of these friends - they come from all walks of life, but are ready and willing to be there for their loved ones.  We will celebrate our Fearless Friends – they’re courageous, not afraid to step up and start what can be a difficult conversation when someone’s going through a tough time.

Renny Roccon – Wonder Mama and the Fearless Rainbow Super-Queeroes
We are a small group of LGBT friends who have entered the parade the last few years. We like to think our entries reflect fun and vibrancy of the parade and appeals to the fun aspect of Mardi Gras. Wonder Mama and the Fearless Rainbow Super-Queeroes represent the colours of the Rainbow flag and are the Defenders of Love and Equality. Each Super Queero will represent each colour of the flag and will be led by Wonder Mama! As Super Queeroes and Defenders of Love and Equality we believe we represent the fearlessness of our community in fighting for, and maintaining equality for all members of our community.

Rumba Latina
Rumba Latina was created in 2016, founded by Rosa Doyle, a Colombian who fell in love with Australia 5 years ago. Since then our group has been performing in several multicultural festivals and parades. Rumba Latina performs multiple dance routines to Latin rhythms in festivals such as Moomba Festival, Bondi Latin festival, Johnston Street festival and many more across both Sydney and Melbourne. We are a diverse group with different backgrounds, cultures, and views but with the same passion, dancing! Rumba Latina has LGBTQI dancers, who have brought great flair, passion, and creativity to the group. Our LGBTQI dancers have shown us how important and liberating it is to express ourselves in our performances. As a result, we feel a connection to the LGBTQI community of Sydney, and see Mardi Gras as the perfect opportunity for our dancers to support and promote LGBTQI rights with our own parade float!

Sydney Dance Company
Australia's foremost contemporary dance company since 1969. A diverse and inclusive organisation for fifty years, engaging the LGBTQI+ community with artists, staff, audiences and participants. 2019 marks Sydney Dance Company's 50th anniversary. A heritage born through a notably diverse alumni of artists, management and community. A renowned cultural leader,  SDC celebrates Fifty Fearless Golden Years of including the LGBTQI+ community through progressive works and activities for audiences nationally and internationally.

Team Sydney Inc
Team Sydney promotes sport, fitness & healthy lifestyles among Sydney’s LGBTIQ organisations.  We help connect & promote over 30 member organisations, representing thousands of individual sportspeople. The theme for the parade entry is 'Making A Splash'. The key message is the promotion of sport including our network on member sports clubs.     To make a splash means your actions are causing ripples through the water. You are facing your fears and pushing through the barriers as out and proud LGBTIQ athletes.

The Institute of Many
We are a totally unfunded, independent, grassroots, movement for people living with HIV, with the largest membership of any HIV org. in Australia. The majority of our members are LGBTQI. TIM will celebrate the breakthrough message of Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U). Our retro sci fi‚ themed float inspires people to consider a changing paradigm of HIV in the 21st century. Science now tells us that an undetectable viral load means we cannot transmit HIV to our sexual partners.  We are celebrating the future of HIV that people with HIV who have an undetectable viral load can be fearless when making love and loving other people and also love themselves fearlessly.

The Oz Fag Hags
We're a group of people who transgress the boundaries between gay & straight culture. Our relationship is based on empathy between two groups who seek positive change in the community.       Exercise Your Rights! We are reminding Australians that while people are still being discriminated against based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status, you need to get out there and exercise your rights. Our theme encourages everyone to Exercise their Rights to ensure that all people of the LGBTQI+ community can live openly without discrimination and enjoy personal autonomy, and freedom of expression.

The Star Observer
The Star Observer is Australia's longest running LGBTI media organisation, setting the LGBTI agenda since 1979. We have over 500,000 loyal readers who embrace our publications. Our theme is 40 years (our 40th birthday in 2019) of fearless reporting and journalism for the LGBTI community. Your news, your stories. The Star Observer has fearlessly reported news for the LGBTI community and has set the agenda for the LGBTI community, for the past 40 years.

The Students of the National Institute of Dramatic Art
NIDA is a conservatoire that promotes expression of upcoming storytellers.  We intend to celebrate the experiences of the LGBTQI+ community within our student body and employees.  Our theme is Storytellers of the Future, Learning and Teaching on Bedegal Land. We believe that to be able to tell the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community we need to be fearless in our approach. It is only through this fearlessness that we can be truthful and respectful.

Trikone Australasia
We are an organisation for GLBTIQ South Asians living in Australia. We offer a supportive and empowering environment for people to promote awareness and acceptance of their sexuality. (trikone.org.au). The theme of our parade is freedom. Only 2 of the 12 South Asian countries (India and Nepal) do not or no longer have homosexuality listed as a criminal offence. The float will showcase the recent decriminalization in India and that there is still much to be done in many South Asian countries. Freedom and decriminalizing of homosexuality in South Asian countries will come about from the FEARLESS few who make a voice and fight for justice.

Wett Ones Swimming Club
Wett Ones Swim Club is an inclusive, competitive and social swimming club for the gay and lesbian community and our friends in Sydney, called a family by members who range in age from 20s to 70s.  Themed swimlikeagirl, our float is dedicated to increasing the participation of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and cisgender women in swimming who make up only 20% of swimmers.  We will reclaim the meaning of the phrase and show the audience that female swimmers are fearless, courageous and strong. "We honour the fearless females who won 28 medals at the 2018 Gay Games & swimmer Kay Gravell who won 8 gold medals while having cancer in her spine, lungs and liver, just one month before she died."

Women In AFL
AFL Without Agenda - AFL is not about gender, sexuality or differences; it is about inclusion and the collective. There are occasions of individual brilliance on the field although the majority of the game is driven by teamwork. To women in AFL, to be fearless, means to take action. Challenging misconceptions, challenging barriers to equality, challenging agendas and challenging approaches to women’s sport.

Mardi Gras is 100% carbon-offset thanks to Powershop

For the first time, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras largest events are 100% carbon-offset in 2019 thanks to a new partnership with Australia’s greenest energy retailer, Powershop.

The festival’s three largest events, Fair Day, Party and the world famous Mardi Gras Parade - catering for a combined audience of over 600,000 - are carbon-offset making it carbon neutral. These changes will mean the carbon footprint of the festival is reduced.

Powershop CEO Ed McManus believes that this new partnership will be another great step forward for the iconic event. “What’s exciting about this partnership is it allows the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to share its positive energy - not just with hundreds of thousands of Australians every year - but now with the environment too.”

Mardi Gras Arts CEO, Terese Casu said, “Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has always been a leader in the issues that matter the most to the community so going carbon neutral was a natural fit. We’re so pleased to be able to carbon offset our major events, which are some of the largest in Australia. We hope that other significant events in arts and sport can learn from the work we’re doing with Powershop.”

The new partnership ensures the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras achieves certification against the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS), making it one of the few national public events to be carbon offset.

Launched on Friday 15 February and concluding on Sunday 3 March, the two-week Mardi Gras program is set to be bigger, bolder and more diverse in its representation of the LGBTQI+ community. Jam-packed with more than 100 community events, dance parties, theatre and music performances and family- focused fun, the festival culminates with the iconic Parade on Saturday 2 March.

NEW RIVERINA CAMPAIGN HIGHLIGHTS LOCAL EXPERIENCES

Local tourism attractions and operators will be showcased in a new tourism marketing campaign aimed at increasing awareness and promoting overnight travel to The Riverina.

Co-funded by the NSW Government, Destination Riverina Murray and a number of local councils, the Go with the Flow campaign kicked off on 18 February. The $125,000 NSW Government funding injection for the campaign, delivered through the Regional Tourism Fund, will help put The Riverina on the map for potential visitors.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said the campaign celebrates unique food, agritourism and nature-based experiences on offer in the region and would be in market until late April 2019.

“The NSW Government is committed to supporting tourism in The Riverina because when people visit overnight, they stay in local accommodation, visit local attractions, buy from local shops and eat at local restaurants and cafes, putting more tourist dollars in the pockets of local businesspeople and creating more jobs,” Mr Marshall said.

“The Regional Tourism Fund allows the NSW Government to match industry contributions to campaigns, dollar for dollar, and partner with local stakeholders to deliver a tailored and collaborative approach.”

In the year ending September 2018 Riverina received nearly 1.2 million domestic overnight visitors (up 16.1 per cent) who stayed over 2.9 million nights in the region (up 11.1 per cent) and spent $479 million (up 56.6 per cent).

With wine tasting at cellar doors, abundant fresh produce and intriguing heritage trails, the Riverina is a wonderful destination for travellers from far and wide.

The marketing campaign has been shared widely with local stakeholders and tourism representatives through a series of workshops to assist businesses on how to use the new Riverina branding and make the most of the campaign.

View the campaign video here.