Saturday, 19 September 2020

Welcome to Quincy: the latest hotel brand to debut in Australia

Meet Quincy - the latest hotel brand to launch in Australia. 

Signature dining destinations and a quirky approach to room service are among the promises being made for the brand-new Quincy Hotel Melbourne, when it opens later this year. 

TFE (Toga Far East) Hotel's CEO Antony Ritch said his team was excited to introduce the "colourful"  brand - which started in Singapore - into Australia.

“With Quincy we are bringing the sights, sounds and, most importantly, flavours of South-East Asia to Australia," he said. 

“And, while we have a way to go before opening, our team are busy setting the benchmark for Quincy Hotels Australia and putting the finishing touches on what we think is Australia's most exciting new hotel brand.”

The 241-room hotel will "immerse our guests in a colourful and contemporary experience unlike anything that's currently available in Australia” Ritch said.

Positioned in the upper mid-scale category, Quincy is aimed at social urbanites. The hotel will feature distinctive building and interior design, three food experiences, a rooftop pool with views of Melbourne CBD, and exclusive club levels and lounge access.

“And we've got a street address to match,” he said. “Right in the middle in one of Australia's best lifestyle precincts at the top of Flinders Lane (across the road from the Rialto and five minutes from the Crown Casino complex).”

Friday, 18 September 2020

West Coast attraction back on the rails

One of Tasmania's biggest tourism attractions is back on the rails.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway ran two preview trips this week ahead of re-starting journeys for visitors to Queenstown from Tuesday, September 22. 

“We are excited to be running these journeys this week and be joined by the minister and fellow tourism industry operators on board as we prepare to welcome back visitors next week” Anthony Brown, West Coast Wilderness Railway general manager said.

The railway was forced to suspend operating railway journeys in April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In the months since the suspension, the railway has maintained its core staff of year-round employees despite not qualifying for JobKeeper subsidies due to Government ownership. 

The team have completed a number of projects, such as scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on the track and rolling stock, station improvements across four remote stations along the line, upgrading on-board audio and visual delivery and adding an augmented reality experience.

“The shutdown has been hard on the team and we are very excited to be able to get back to doing what we do best," Brown said. 

"We’re really proud of the effort the entire team have put in over the last six months and especially in the last few weeks to get us ready.” 

The West Coast Wilderness Railway will run journeys from Queenstown from September 22.  Strahan journeys are due to resume in January 2021 on the completion of a planned track replacement project that was delayed due to the pandemic.

Major cruise line throws in the towel on 2020

P&O Cruises has again pushed back its planned restart date, with all sailings now cancelled until 2021.

All Caribbean cruises are cancelled until the end of January 2021 and cruises from and to Southampton are cancelled through February.

The cruise line had hoped to resume operations at the end of November, but said coronavirus restrictions have meant further changes to the planned schedule, Travel Mole reported.

P&O has already announced cruises on Arcadia and Aurora have been cancelled through to the end of their spring world cruises next year.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: "With evolving restrictions on travel from the UK, unfortunately it is necessary to cancel these itineraries.

"These further cancellations vary according to ship as well as complexity and length of itineraries, advice and guidance regarding ports of call and current air availability for fly/cruises.

"We are continuing to monitor the overall situation closely and will certainly reintroduce cruises should the opportunity arise and it is feasible to do so."

Ludlow said the company is working with several of the "'most brilliant minds in science as well as government at the highest level" on approved and enhanced health protocols, which will be in place once the company resumes sailing.

"Whilst adherence to the protocols on board and ongoing vigilance will be critical, this will always be coupled with providing the well-deserved and memorable holidays for which we are known, with all the standout moments on board and experiences on shore. This is what we have always done and will continue to do.

"We cannot wait for restrictions to ease, borders to open and for us to once again be able to set sail for a new beginning."

All guests with bookings on a cancelled cruise will be notified and will automatically receive an enhanced 125% Future Cruise Credit or alternatively a 100% refund by filling out a web form.

Criminal investigation into pilots who flew without valid licences

Pakistan International Airlines is currently banned from flying to both Europe and the United States after a scandal involving dozens of pilots who had fake licences.

Now Pakistan has started a criminal probe into dozens of pilots and at least five aviation officials over the fake pilot licence scandal.

It comes after numerous pilots were grounded after bogus credentials were used to get their licenses.

The criminal investigation by the Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency is targeting up to 50 pilots and aviation officials who allegedly facilitated the scam. 

It aims to prove 'alleged corruption, violations, malpractices in issuance of flight crew licences'.

"The Cabinet was told that FIA has opened proceedings into the pilots whose licences were revoked, and the civil aviation officials who connived with them," according to the Reuters news agency

The scandal came to light after officials opened an audit into Pakistan International Airlines following an air crash.

It found dozens of pilots received their licences even though they paid others to take pilot exams on their behalf.

The Express Tribune reported that 82 pilots had been using fake licences but the remaining 180 pilots under investigation had been cleared. 

The pilots investigated included 141 at state-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which employs 450 pilots. The remaining pilots worked for private airlines and charter services. 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Fly direct from Hobart to Flinders and King islands

The Tasmanian Government has announced new direct flights from Hobart to King and Flinders islands - which will be a boon for golf enthusiasts.

Sharp Airlines will be operating three services per week to each island on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on its 18-seat aircraft. 

It will be the first time flights have been offered as a regular passenger transport service to the islands direct from Hobart.  

There will be early arrival times on Wednesdays and Fridays and a later departure from King Island on Sundays – maximising the opportunities for golfers.

King Island has two new golf courses in Ocean Dunes and Cape Wickham (above) which are ranked among the best in the world.

King Island is also famous for food exports with a range of produce being sought by the world’s top chefs. Succulent beef, rich gourmet cheese and crayfish plucked from the Island’s crystal clear waters

Flights from Hobart to King Island will start at $460 return with Hobart to Flinders Island starting at $478 return. The first flights start on September 30, ahead of the school holiday period.

The Tasmanian Government is supporting the services for an initial 18-week trial period. If the demand remains then the services could be offered on regular basis.

Tourism Tasmania will be promoting the flights through the Make Yourself at Home campaign with print ads, content and a special lift-out booklet on Tasmania's island experiences in newspapers statewide. 

Flights can be booked now via

Clare Valley winemaker thriving in "retirement"

What do you do when you retire from the family business after 40 years of crafting fine wines - particularly riesling. 

If you are Neil Pike you start your own wine label, and relax by spending some time in the kitchen. 

Pike retired from the family Clare Valley winery last year but has now started his own label: Limefinger, with a 2020 riesling grown just a couple of minutes from Watervale Township. 

The Limefinger 2020 The Learnings Riesling was made in tiny quantities - just 3,000 bottles - and retails for $37.50. 

"After 40+ vintages working in the Clare Valley/Watervale one learns a few things along the way," Pike says. It has been a privilege to be able to apply those learnings to such a gorgeous parcel of fruit." 

Pike has also been cooking up a storm, including crafting some Limefinger lemon/lime oil pickle that he recommends using when cooking chicken. Paired with riesling, of course. 

See (soon).      


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Auckland's latest five-star hotel opens its doors

New Zealand's newest hotel, the Park Hyatt Auckland, opened its doors this week, offering a new luxurious place to meet, drink and dine in a prime waterfront location. 

The first Park Hyatt in New Zealand is a 195-room hotel that features four restaurants and bars, a day spa and fitness centre as well as versatile event spaces. 

Park Hyatt Auckland also marks the return of Hyatt hotels to the land of the long white cloud. 

“We are delighted to welcome the first guests to Park Hyatt Auckland, a waterfront location steeped in New Zealand's rich culture," said hotel general manager Brett Sweetman. 

"Discerning domestic travellers as well as the local community can expect a host of exciting gastronomic delights and rare culinary moments, delivered with intuitive personalized service.

“As part of Hyatt's global care and cleanliness commitment, we have enhanced safety and cleanliness protocols to protect the wellbeing of our colleagues and guests ensuring their peace of mind throughout their stay.”

The hotel has been designed by Ali Reda from ar+d in Singapore in collaboration with local Bossley Architects, the hotel's architecture is conceptualised as a Māori wharenui (house) – to be a place of gathering that brings families and communities together. 

The hotel's double-layered exterior echoes a Māori cloak. 

The culinary team is led by executive chef Brent Martin, a New Zealander who has returned home after a career spanning six countries and more than 20 years managing restaurants in some of the world's top hotels.

Guests booking a Waterfront Escape package before October 31 to stay at the hotel before December 31 will receive NZD$50 credit per night to spend on site, as well as a complimentary room upgrade to a room with waterfront views.