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Friday 31 May 2019

Jetstar cops fine for misleading customers

Anyone who has used the Jetstar website to book a flight will probably have a horror story. 

The confusing format; the constant up-selling.

Mind you, anyone has flown with Jetstar will probably also have a tale of woe. I have a policy of not flying with Australia's budget carrier if I have to be somewhere at a specific time.

It comes as no surprise, therefore that Jetstar has just been ordered to pay a $1.95 million penalty for misleading customers over refunds and consumer rights on its website.

The airline was not explicit in fully explaining its obligations to refund passengers.

The Australian Federal Court found that it stated some fares were not refundable despite them being covered by automatic consumer guarantees.

It said customers could only get a refund on more expensive fares, even in the event of significant delays or cancellations.

"Jetstar's representations were false or misleading because all flights come with automatic consumer guarantees that cannot be excluded, restricted or modified, no matter how cheap the fare," said Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims.

"If a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, passengers may be entitled to a refund under the consumer guarantees. All consumers have the right to a remedy, such as a refund, if services are not supplied within a reasonable time."

Between April 2017 and March 2018, the Jetstar website stated consumer guarantees did not apply to its flight services.

As well as the fine Jetstar is obliged to remedy its policies and practises to comply with all consumer laws.

Don't expect to read much about this is in mainstream media. Jetstar are major advertisers. 

Thursday 30 May 2019

Whatever happened to commonsense and manners?

Is hospitality dead? On the evidence of three encounters I had today, it is definitely pushing up the daisies. 

Initiative and manners, too, seem to have fallen by the wayside.    

First up, I stayed overnight at the Hobart Travelodge last night following a wine dinner. 

I was roused at 7.15am by a loud alarm and a recorded voice shouting "Emergency, Emergency: Fire alarm. Please vacate your rooms".

I threw on some clothes and joined maybe a hundred other guests on the pavement on a particularly chilly Tasmanian morning. The fire brigade arrived, found it has been a false alarm (the fault of hotel system maybe) and a half hour or so later we were told we could return to our rooms.

No apology. 

When I checked out a few minutes later there was once again no apology for the interrupted sleep. It was is if the whole incident had never happened. 

If I had been the hotel manager I would have been in the lobby explaining to guests what had happened, and maybe offering them a complimentary cup of tea or coffee for the inconvenience and to warm some chilled bones. 

An hour later I was shopping in a deli that I use regularly (Salamanca Fresh at Kingston). I had purchased some porchetta for lunch and thought a small portion of coleslaw might be a nice accompaniment. 

But the only way to buy coleslaw is in a tub for $4.50. Not wanting to waste three-quarters of a serve, I asked for a half tub. "No, not possible". Why not? Just put a half serve into one of the many empty tubs on the counter? "That's not the way we do it".

Considering this spectacular idiocy and a lack of initiative, I asked to speak to the manager. "You can talk to her," I was told. She wasn't a manager and she wasn't prepared to show any nous to keep a customer happy. 

So they've lost a customer over $2.50 worth of coleslaw because they employ numpties (or have numpties making the rules).

Next stop a fast food chain for breakfast. I order a meal deal that was clearly advertised above my head for $6.70. 

"That'll be $8.15," says the counter person. "Actually no, it will be $6.70," I reply. 

She tries again. This time it rings up at $6.70. "I don't know how that happened," she says blithely. No apology. I wonder how many people pay over the odds at this particular store? 

Oh, and the fries were soggy. 

Have a nice day.    

Star Australian chef goes global

Thai real estate and hospitality major Dusit Thani is expanding into the food business along with world-renowned Australian chef David Thompson.

It unveiled plans at the THAIFEX World of Food Asia 2019 trade event, and plans to leverage its experience in food and beverage service for a new revenue stream.

Dusit plans to market its own premium instant food brand, named Khong Thai, alongside celebrated Thompson, famous for his food at Sailor's Thai in Sydney and Nahm in Bangkok.

The new business will be positioned as offering healthy, natural and organic produce supporting local communities.

It is starting with four premium recipes, namely Green Curry, Massaman Curry, Yellow Curry and Laksa, and other recipes and condiments will be launched soon.

Dusit Foods Co Ltd is targeting the international market, initially in the independent restaurant business.

Dusit Foods also recently invested in two food companies - NR Instant Produce Co Ltd, a manufacturer and exporter of instant food and beverages, and Epicure Catering, which provides catering to international schools in Thailand.

"Our initial marketing mix is 90% overseas and 10% domestic, with a particular focus on the United States because of the large consumer base and popularity of Thai food," said Jate Sopitpongstorn, the managing director of Dusit Foods Co Ltd.

The company is marketing to online and offline markets and will launch the food range in the US in September, and later in Europe.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Rosé boom could lead to wine shortage in Provence

After two small harvests, grape prices in Provence have more than doubled over the past two years and one key producer has suggested there will be a possible Provence rosé shortage over the northern hemisphere summer. 
Philippe Marion, sales and marketing director of Barton & Guestier, told The Drinks Business: “The hardest aspect of making rosé in Provence at the moment is getting hold of the right grapes - availability is a big issue this year.

“There is high demand for grapes and over the last two years we’ve had a couple of low crops in Provence, so grape supply is an issue and grape prices have increased off the back of it.

“Grape prices in Provence have more than doubled over the space of two years - grenache, syrah and cinsualt from Provence all sell for around the same price. Everyone is putting their wine prices up in Provence after two short harvests.

“Those price increases are being passed on to the consumer and rosés that used to be priced at around US$12.99 are now selling on the shelves for $18 - but we’re finding that some people don’t trust the quality of rosés under $US20.”

Provence is now facing increasing competition on the rosé front from other French regions such as the Languedoc, Roussillon and smaller Ardeche, along with the likes of Italy and Spain, all of which are keen to emulate its delicate pale, savoury pink style.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Tasmania comes alive as the mercury plummets

It is an old joke that Tasmania hibernates in winter, as the mercury drops and locals huddle in front of their wood fires. 

Nowadays, Tasmania comes alive in the colder months as locals and tourists alike embrace the winter chill. 

Dark Mofo kicks off the festivities but you may have left tour run too late if you want tickets for the wacky avant garde festival of the good things in life. 

Next up: 

The Festival of Voices June 28-July 14 

The Festival of Voices is Australia’s premier celebration of the voice, attracting an audience of over 30,000 people to the two-week event in Hobart and on Tasmania’s East Coast. Performances are held on large and small scales, from recitals halls and bars to pop-ups. Enjoy performances by Dami Im, She Persisted, Holy Holy and Electric Fields, as well as emerging musical talent. The City of Hobart Big Sing Bonfire on Sunday, July 7, is loved by people of all ages – gathering at the large bonfires at Salamanca Place to sing along in unison to contemporary and well-loved tunes. Tickets are on sale now.

Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival July 12-14 

The hugely popular Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival is a celebration of centuries-old pagan traditions, storytelling and winter feasting. This year the festival is moving to their new location at the Ranelagh Recreation Grounds, 30 minutes south of Hobart. The festival commences on Friday night with an Aboriginal ceremony to cleanse the spirits. After much feasting and music, the night will culminate in the burning of the two-storey wicker man, ‘Big Willie’. There will be food and beverages on offer from a selection of local stallholders throughout the festival. A new addition to this year's Saturday program is a long table lunch by Wild Grove and Season & Fire. Saturday night features the tradition of wassailing – the crowd will shout, sing and bang pots and pans to awaken the apple trees in the hope of a good harvest. Buses from Hobart and Cygnet will operate on Friday and Saturday, as well as a free Huon Valley shuttle service throughout the festival. For full details see

Tasmanian Whisky Week, August 12-18

Tasmanian whisky is known globally for its quality. Tasmanian Whisky Week is a week-long celebration of whisky and the people who make it. Events are being held across Tasmania and include full-day bus tours visiting distilleries, the launch of a film about whisky, Scotch: The Golden Dram, tastings with distillers and a progressive dinner through four of Hobart’s best restaurants matched with products from four distilleries.

Meet Melbourne's new luxury hotel - and snag a bargain price

Discover Melbourne's newest luxury hotel: Shadow Play by Peppers in the city's thriving Southbank arts and entertainment district.

Developed by luxury property developer Jonathan Hallinan of BPM Corp, the 46-storey Shadow Play by Peppers hotel features a selection of spacious one- and two-bedroom apartments with "avant garde design elements" throughout.

The hotel also boasts the onsite Edwin Wine Bar & Cellar, along with an array of guest spaces including a heated pool, gymnasium, sauna and steam room, guest lounge and library with an adjoining patio, and an enclosed garden space on the 46th floor complete with a free-standing fireplace and commanding bay views.

Accor Apartments & Leases Senior Vice President Operations, Mark Hodge, said he and the team are proud to have officially opened Accor's second Peppers hotel in Melbourne.

“Visitors to Southbank can now experience Peppers' renowned style of service, which is always attentive yet never obtrusive,” he said.

“Shadow Play by Peppers is a landmark hotel with a range of high-end amenities designed to appeal to the city's increasingly selective global market that is looking for quality, location and facilities of a world-class calibre.

“New hotels in key precincts like this play a critical role in promoting a vibrant visitor economy, while meeting the needs of growing visitor numbers to Melbourne by attracting first-time and returning domestic and international travellers.

“We're thrilled to partner with local developer BPM Corp on this project, which is a win for the economic growth of Melbourne from both a tourism and jobs creation perspective.”
In the heart of the city and within walking distance to the Eureka Skydeck, Melbourne Arts Centre, the National Gallery of Victoria, Crown Casino, the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, and the city's best shopping and dining precincts, Shadow Play by Peppers is designed as a stylish urban retreat. 

To celebrate the official opening, Shadow Play by Peppers is offering an opening special from $239* per night in a one-bedroom Apartment including wifi and valet car parking. To book, visit or call 1300 737 444.

Shadow Play by Peppers, 308-320 City Road, Southbank VIC.

Monday 27 May 2019

On the right track: exploring Latin America by train

Latin America is a continent of stunning contrasts; from the snow-capped Andes, wild jungles, exotic wildlife and ancient civilisations, to glamorous beaches and chic bars. 

The region is also home to some of the best train trips on the planet, providing a perfect way to enjoy the scenery from the comfort of a rail carriage.

Australia’s longest-running travel specialist for Latin America, Contours Travel (with whom I had an outstanding trip to Peru), has released a list of the top seven train trips in Latin America.

1. Copper Canyon, Mexico
Mexico only has one passenger train but what it lacks in company it certainly makes up for in quality. Known as ‘El Chepe’ by locals, the Copper Canyon Railway takes passengers from the desert to the Pacific Coast in north-west Mexico, passing sheer canyon walls, waterfalls and plains along the way. The railway stretches over 650km from Chihuahua to Los Mochis on the coast via 36 bridges and 87 tunnels and has been running for over 50 years.

2. Panama Canal Railway, Panama
Linking the city of Colon on the Atlantic Coast and Panama City on the Pacific, the Panama Canal Railway offers spectacular views of one the world’s less-travelled tourism destinations. The glass-domed train is perfect for travellers wishing to relive the heyday of luxury train travel. 

3. Tren Crucero, Ecuador
This luxury, vintage train has just four carriages - two dining cars and two lounge cars – ensuring passengers have an intimate experience as they journey from Ecuador’s capital, Quito, through the Andes over mountains and past volcanoes before arriving in the bustling coastal city of Guayaquil.

4. Tren a Las Nubes, Argentina
Regularly ranked among the world’s top rail adventures, the ‘Train to the Clouds,’ which reaches heights of 4200 metres, connects north-west Argentina with the Chilean border in the Andes mountain range. The journey is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Perhaps the most impressive part of the journey is passing over the spectacular Viaducto la Polvorilla. 

5. End of the World Train, Argentina
Considered the southernmost operating railway in the world, the ‘End of the World’ train ride takes travellers from Ushuaia to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. The heritage railway follows the historic convict train route through stunning landscapes, from Patagonian lakes to snow-capped peaks. 

6. Machu Picchu, Peru
One of the most beautiful rail routes in the world, this trip takes passengers from Cuzco to the base of the world-famous Machu Picchu Incan ruins in the Peruvian Andes. The route follows the river along a narrow valley, passing small communities, farms, snow-capped mountains and lush forest. Carriages range from the Explorer - perfect for those on a budget - to the Hiram Bingham Deluxe - one of the most luxurious carriages in the world.

7. Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
Launched in May 2017, the Belmond Andean Explorer is a luxurious train journey filled with breathtaking views of the Andes mountain ranges. Among the highest train trips on earth, the Belmond Andean Explorer reaches heights of 4300 metres.The luxury sleeper train takes pampered passengers from Cusco – the ancient capital of the Inca Empire - through the Andean plains to beautiful Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America. 

Contours Travel offers hosted group tours and tailor-made itineraries for independent travellers throughout Latin America. To book or make enquiries call Contours Travel on 1300 135 391 or visit

Sunday 26 May 2019

Major hotel booking sites come under fire

I frequently use hotel booking sites when I need a quick night somewhere and want some choice. 

But the major hotel booking sites are still skewing search results, using pressure tactics and claiming false discounts despite a major clampdown, according to new Which? research reported by TravelMole.

In February, the British Competition and Markets Authority accused Expedia,, Trivago,, Agoda and Ebookers of using unfair practices and ordered them to stop using measures that could mislead customers.

They were given until September to comply, but an investigation by Which? has found that sites are still using tactics to pressurise customers, including not displaying full costs upfront, giving a false impression of a room's popularity and dishonestly claiming that rooms are discounted.

For example, Trivago's site advertised a deal with Expedia for the Paris's Millesime hotel for £244 in February, which it claimed was a saving of 63%, but this was only compared with the most expensive price on another site, not the average, said Which? 

When its researcher clicked through, the 'pricier' site was actually offering the same room for £240 - £4 cheaper than Expedia.

Trivago also has really annoying TV ads
Pressure tactics such as "one room left at this price" and "booked four times in the last 24 hours" can manipulate customers into parting with their cash quickly by giving the impression that the offer is time-limited, Which? reported.

The consumer organisation said 44% of its members agreed that seeing the prompt "only one room left on our site" would influence their decision to book.

In some cases, however, Which? found that these claims were bogus. For example, when was advertising 'the last' double room with private external bathroom at the Balmore Guest House in Edinburgh, Which? reported there were another seven doubles available with en suites at the same price.

Buyer beware. And consider booking direct with hotels to get the best deals. 

Laugh yourself silly on Norfolk Island

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival roadshow will be rolling onto Norfolk Island - the perfect getaway for anyone looking for a quiet break with a belly load of laughs thrown in. 

Five of the festival’s star comedians from Australia and New Zealand will hit Norfolk Island on August 3. 

The cast includes Urzila Carlson (from my hometown and who used to work on the same paper as me, just a few generations earlier). 

You'll know the South African-born comic from Have You Been Paying Attention and Spicks and Specks. 

Others on the bill include Bob Franklin, Xavier Michelides, Mel Buttle and Dane Simpson. 

The Norfolk Island Travel Centre has announced three-night and seven-night Norfolk Island Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow packages including return Air New Zealand economy class ‘seat plus bag’ airfare to Norfolk Island, pre-paid airline taxes, meet and greet at Norfolk Island airport, return airport transfers on Norfolk Island, three or seven nights’ twin-share accommodation, three or seven days’ car hire, entry to Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow on August 3, plus discounts and bonuses. 

The package is priced from $1199 per person twin share ex-Sydney August 2-5 or $1299 per person twin share ex-Sydney August 2-9. Similar deals are available from Brisbane. 

For Norfolk Island Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow packages, contact Christan Davies at Norfolk Island Travel Centre on Toll Free 1800 1400 66 or

Saturday 25 May 2019

MONA unveils new entertainment precinct in Hobart CBD

The operators of Hobart's MONA are to open a new 24-hour entertainment precinct in Hobart city centre.

After two years of planning, Melbourne’s Riverlee and MONA's DarkLab have announced a new $5 million cultural and entertainment district to be known as ‘In the Hanging Garden’.

Encompassing nearly an entire city block, ‘In the Hanging Garden’ will be a live music and cultural precinct opening at 8pm on June 5 to coincide with the start of the 2019 Dark Mofo festival. 

After the festival concludes, the precinct will remain open and operated by DarkLab year-round, seven days a week.

The first stage of the development has the Odeon Theatre at its heart and encompasses the renovated former Tattersall’s Hotel, and extensive outdoor dining, beer garden, and entertainment areas with food trucks, rotating pop-up kitchens and night markets.

The precinct fronts Liverpool Street, Watchorn Street, and Murray Street.

Riverlee development director David Lee said: "“It was actually David’s [Walsh] suggestion that at first, we open up our doors and let the city in. We agreed that before we can design a ‘cultural’ precinct for the people, we first need to bring the people into the precinct - to give them the opportunity to explore the site, interact with the space, and to create their own culture.

“It has been an enjoyable journey thus far, and we are both excited and humbled with the opportunity to partner with DarkLab on this project, to deliver something truly unique for the city. And with our partners, we are committed to our vision - to transform this site into a vibrant cultural precinct for the city and the people of Hobart.”

DarkLab director Leigh Carmichael said if Hobart is to assert its reputation as a cultural leader in Australia, these types of projects are essential.

“We have a vision for this site to become a significant cultural facility in the heart of Hobart," he said. "We hope it inspires a reinvigorated CBD, and that other businesses can also capitalise. There is momentum building in Hobart at present, and this project has the potential to be a game-changer for the city centre.”

The Odeon Theatre will feature live music at weekends with a capacity of 1200, while there will be outdoor dining, a beer garden and pop-up kitchens seven days a week. 

Altar will offer live music on ground floor of former Tattersall’s Hotel, while High Altar will be a nightclub on the first floor. 

After Dark Mofo concludes, the Odeon will be programmed and operated by DarkLab, with an increase in programming from a dedicated team. Post-festival programs will be announced in July.

See and

Friday 24 May 2019

Pawesome! Luxury hotel chain welcomes dogs in rooms

A leading hotel chain has launched a new initiative that will allow dogs to accompany guests in their hotel rooms.

Ovolo is introducing dog-friendly rooms to all its properties across Hong Kong and Australia.

This new offer will provide pet-friendly rooms in every hotel for an additional cost of $AU80 per night.

Each room will be decked out with a plush dog bed, a no-mess eating and drinking mat and separate food and water bowls.

Dogs that sign up for the V.I.Pooch' plan can also enjoy a designer 'Doggy Bag' containing woof-worthy dog toys, healthy dog snacks and handy poop bags to bring along on walks, hikes and adventures all around town.

Up to two furry friends are permitted per room, giving dog-owners the opportunity to travel to top destinations in Hong Kong and Australia, staying in the cosiest of spaces with their best friends.

“Dog-friendly rooms across Ovolo? Why not?," says Girish Jhunjhnuwala, founder & CEO of Ovolo Hotels Group.

"Most hotels decline to welcome prized pooches to their properties, particularly in Hong Kong, but we're not most hotels. We're thrilled to offer this unique perk to extend our ethos of effortless living.

"Trips are more fun with your best friend, so why put your V.I.Pooch in a kennel? Your furry friend can snuggle into their own bed and dig in to a special doggie bag curated just for them."

For more information and to book, visit:

Thursday 23 May 2019

Qantas vs. fat flyer

An obese man has claimed he was "fat-shamed" by Australian national airline Qantas after being told he was too large for his pre-booked exit row seat.

Darren Beales, from Geelong, made a major media fuss by claiming the request to move seats on the flight from Melbourne to Brisbane amounted to public fat-shaming.

Mr Beales had pre-booked an exit row seat.

But when he boarded he asked cabin crew for a seat belt extension, as the regular belt is too small to fit him.

He was then told he couldn’t sit in the seat he had booked and was made to move once everybody was on board.

Which seems fair enough to me. People in the exit row are required to help in the case of an emergency. This bloke could only have got in the way.

Under Civil Aviation guidelines, passengers who are travelling with an infant or child or someone who requires assistance in an emergency are not permitted to sit in an exit row.

Safety comes first; not bruised egos.

Which is commonsense - something this bloke appears to be severely lacking.

Radio 3AW reported Qantas have since contacted the fat flyer and offered him a $120 refund for the extra leg room he purchased but did not get to use.

Terracotta Army invades Melbourne

The Terracotta Warriors will tomorrow invade Melbourne for a landmark exhibition at the National Gallery on Victoria International. 

In a dual presentation of Chinese art and culture past and present, the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series presents China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors alongside a parallel display of new works by one of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists Cai Guo-Qiang. 

 Developed and curated by the NGV, Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality is a large-scale presentation of the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors, which, discovered in 1974 in China’s Shaanxi province, are regarded as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century and widely described as the eighth wonder of the world. 

The exhibition features eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from the Imperial Army, as well as two half-size replica bronze chariots, each drawn by four horses.

Presented in parallel, Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape features all new art works by contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang inspired by his home country’s culture and its enduring philosophical traditions

Created especially for this exhibition, highlight works include the installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds, Murmuration (Landscape), 2019. 

Spiralling over visitors’ heads, the birds create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors.

Tony Ellwood AM, the director of the NGV said: "Thirty-six years ago, in 1982, the National Gallery of Victoria presented the first international exhibition of China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors only several years after their discovery. 

"History will be made again in 2019, when the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Army will return to the NGV for the 2019 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series – this time in a sophisticated dialogue with the work one of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang."

This exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in partnership with Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, Shaanxi History Museum, Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, and Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum of the People's Republic of China.

It will will be on display from May 24-October 13 at the NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Members $24, adult $30, concession $25, child $10, family (two adults + three children) $65. 

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Calling cheese and chocolate lovers

Swissôtel Sydney is going back to its Swiss roots by serving cheese and chocolate fondues again this winter in Sydney CBD. 

Fondue is a uniquely Swiss culinary experience and its history dates back to the 18th century. At Crossroads Bar in Swissôtel Sydney, the culinary team has recreated a traditional fondue recipe best enjoyed during the colder months.
The Swissôtel Sydney fondue recipe is a combination of two Swiss cheeses - Emmental and Gruyère, Kirsch (a clear fruit brandy), white wine, garlic and a secret ingredient, all blended together and served in a pot. 
The house-made Swiss fondue is enjoyed with crusty baguette bread, cornichons, pickled onions and cos salad. 
Diners can personalise the flavour of their fondue dip to suit their tastes by adding Fourme d'Ambert blue cheese, Gorgonzola Dolce blue cheese, truffle or all three. 
Dipper options will include kipfler potatoes, spiced meatballs, slow-cooked flat iron steak (served pink), seasonal vegetables (carrot, capsicum, broccoli), grilled portobello mushrooms, pork salami, beer-battered chips, potato rosti, prawn cutlets and baguette bread.
To complement the experience, Swissôtel Sydney has curated a special beverage menu, which pairs perfectly with the fondue, including Swiss-inspired cocktails, Josef Chromy Pinot Noir, Pike's Riesling, Kirin Apple Cider and mulled wine.

For those with a sweet tooth, Swissôtel's chefs have created a blend of Swiss chocolate fondue accompanied by marshmallows, pound cake, strawberries, pineapples, kiwifruit, crushed peanuts and almond flakes. 
Dippers include churros, waffle sticks, pretzels, mini doughnut balls, ice cream, bananas and strawberries. 
Lorraine Mercuri, general manager of Swissôtel Sydney said: “The overwhelmingly positive feedback from guests last year encouraged us to bring back the traditional Swiss fondue experience to Swissôtel Sydney this winter. 
"Fondue is an authentic Swiss culinary tradition, which is best enjoyed with friends and family during the colder months, and our culinary team have introduced new fondue dippers to make the experience more exciting for all.”
The Swiss fondue is available at Crossroads Bar in Swissôtel Sydney, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6pm-9pm from May 30 to August 31. 
The gourmet experience is priced at $34 per person with a minimum of two people per booking. Accor Plus members can enjoy a complimentary glass of house wine and 10% discount. 

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Now there is an Irish pub with no beer

It sounds like an April Fool's joke.

A new pub has opened its doors in Dublin with an unusual twist; it doesn’t serve alcohol.

“Can you lose the booze and keep the craic?”

Vaughan Yates, a co-founder of The Virgin Mary, which opened in Dublin earlier this month, is kicking against the trend.

Dublin is home to 750 pubs and the Guinness brewery.

The Virgin Mary, which sits on Capel Street, provides a sober alternative to a few pints after work, The Drinks Business reports.

The low-and-no alcohol category is one of the fastest-growing sections of the alcohol industry.

The Virgin Mary’s shelves are stocked with alcohol-free beer and wines, while the staff have also curated a menu of alcohol-free cocktails. Drinks start at €4.50 ($7.30), while cocktails are between €7 and €8.

The bar stocks a range of low ABV beers from both mainstream and craft brands.

Punters also have the option to create their own low ABV cocktail by combining a non-alcoholic spirits of their choice with any mixer from Irish soft drinks maker Poacher’s.

The pub, located a 10-minute walk from whiskey maker Jameson’s distillery on Bow Street and less than two miles from Guinness’ brewery, has already gained plenty of attention.

But crazy ideas tend to do that. I'd give them three months tops.

Open from 4pm to 11pm each day, the bar aims to recreate the buzz and atmosphere of any other late-night venue with “lighting, music, and conversation”, The Irish Times reported.

Monday 20 May 2019

The global rise and rise of rosé

When giant multi-national corporations start taking an interest you know that a trend has become more than a fashion blip.

Moët Hennessy announced today that it is to buy Château du Galoupet, a Cru Classé wine producer in the Côtes-de-Provence region of southern France.

Château du Galoupet produces 90% rosé wines and has a history that dates back to the 17th century.

There are 68 hectares of vines on the property.

The wines will be the first rosés in under the Moët Hennessy umbrella.

Moët Hennessy is the wine and spirits division of LVMH, the world's leading luxury products group. Moët Hennessy is the largest luxury wine and spirits company in the world. 

Its brands include Hennessy, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart, Krug, Mercier, Belvedere, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, Chandon, Cloudy Bay and Cape Mentelle,

An intriguing new way to explore behind-the-scenes Japan

A new series of tours hope to give visitors a peek behind the scenes at distinctive aspects of Japanese culture: the ritual of bathing in onsen hot spring baths, and savouring fresh seasonal delights.

At the invitation of the Onsen Gastronomy Tourism Association, Walk Japan, specialists in small, authentic group tours, have unveiled the first of a new series of Onsen Gastronomy tours: Oita & Kumamoto in Kyushu, Japan's most westerly main island, and Gifu and Nagano in Honshu, central Japan.

Each tour lasts up to five days and has a special focus on the two distinctive aspects of Japanese culture. 

Leisurely, guided walking is over what is described as "easy terrain" with distances each day limited to 10 kilometres but averaging between six to eight kilometres, allowing time to visit local sites of interest.

Like all Walk Japan tours, the Onsen Gastronomy tours are led by expert tour leaders, with a maximum group size of 12 people.

Tourists get to be immersed in the traditional Japanese way of bathing and every evening stay in a delightful local inn, almost always with their own onsens. 

They will also enjoy exceptional Japanese cuisine. 

Onsen hot springs, featured on many of Walk Japan's tours, are found throughout Japan. The Onsen Gastronomy: Oita and Kumamoto is a fully guided five-day, four-night tour starting in Beppu and finishing in Oita City on the island of Kyushu.

The Onsen Gastronomy: Gifu and Nagano is another fully guided five-day, four-night walking tour, taking in central Gifu and western Nagano prefectures, largely a remote area. 

For details see

Sunday 19 May 2019

Discover Kangaroo Island at your own pace

SeaLink has launched a new range of self-drive Kangaroo Island short-break packages.

The deals are aimed at tourists who want to discover the island at their own pace, whether they favour food and wine, beaches, wildlife or simply exploring. 
There are six ready-made self-drive packages including the three-day American River Adventure, three-day Food and Wine Lovers, three-day Island Hideaway, three-day KI Family Escape at Vivonne Bay, four-day Emu Bay Wine and Wildlife tour and five-day Experience Kangaroo Island tour.
For example, visitors can experience local produce and the spectacular scenery of the Dudley Peninsula while staying at Kangaroo Island Seafront in Penneshaw on the three-day Food and Wine Lover's package.
This deal includes return SeaLink ferry travel for two adults and a standard size vehicle; two nights' accommodation including daily full buffet breakfast at Kangaroo Island Seafront, Penneshaw; welcome bottle of Kangaroo Island wine; $60 dinner voucher at Penny's Restaurant; gourmet lunch at Dudley Wines including a shared platter, gourmet pizza and a glass of wine and premium wine tasting and local produce platter at Bay of Shoal Wines.
The package starts from $493 per person, twin share or from $656.50 per person, twin share including on-island hire car option.
For further information and bookings contact SeaLink on 131301 or visit

Saturday 18 May 2019

One down, Australia's First Families of Wine and Chinese Whispers

It is just a decade ago since I was invited to the launch of Australia’s First Families of Wine, a group of 12 wine producers representing multi-generatational wine families.

The 12 have suddenly become 11 (more on that later) but will be returning to China for a third time this week as part of Wine Australia’s 2019 China Roadshow.

"In a rapidly changing wine landscape, AFFW is looking forward to continuing to build its profile in China and connecting with key players in the wine trade and media, telling the stories behind each bottle of wine they craft,” said AFFW chairman Stephen Henschke.

"And as AFFW heads towards its 10th anniversary, their rich stories of longevity, history, provenance and craftsmanship continue to resonate with wine-interested Chinese guests.

This will be AFFW’s second trip with Wine Australia to China, an opportunity Henschke says will “strengthen a highly valued relationship” that has been built over many years

“As AFFW, we made our first solo visit to China in 2013, followed by a second visit with Wine Australia last year, in order to help raise the image of Australian wine,” Henschke said.

“It’s fascinating to see how rapidly the Chinese market is developing and changing each time we visit. Chinese wine consumers are gaining more confidence as they learn to appreciate wine. AFFW embodies the spirit of historical, multi-generational wine producing families, and with the next generation of AFFW at the fore, they are able to provide the touch points for the younger Chinese wine lovers of which there are many. 

"As a group we agree, and as the export figures show, the Chinese market is still very much the future for premium Australian wine.”

Kicking off on May 21, the 11 families who make up AFFW will visit Tianjin, Hangzhou, Kunming and Shenzhen during the eight-day tour, with two dedicated AFFW MasterClasses highlighting Wine Australia’s itinerary.

The first MasterClass, an in depth look into the classic Australian variety, Shiraz, will take place in Tianjin on the opening day of the roadshow. The event will be hosted by Lu Yang MS, the first ever and currently the only Chinese Master Sommelier. 

He is widely regarded as the most important and influential sommelier in Greater China and is currently the Corporate/Group Director of Wine for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, overseeing the wine program and sommelier team for over 100 hotels of the entire group.

Concerning  De Bortoli's sudden absence from AFFW, Henschke said: “AFFW's shareholder agreement and membership criteria both stipulate that each AFFW member must be a member of the national Australian wine industry representative body which, until recently was the Winemakers Federation of Australia, and is now the newly incorporated Australian Grape and Wine Incorporated.

" The De Bortoli family has chosen not to become a member of this newly formed industry body and therefore no longer meet AFFW’s criteria.”

So there.

Thursday 16 May 2019

How a small town in Tasmania reinvented itself

A small town in Tasmania has cleverly reinvented itself by encouraging artists to create murals on walls of buildings and in a local park.

The rural northern Tasmanian town of Sheffield suffered a severe downtown before locals decided to take action.

The town made itself an instant tourist attraction and now holds an annual festival.

Sheffield, in the foothills of Mount Roland, is 30 minutes from Devonport and under hour from Launceston. It is a gateway to Cradle Mountain and promotes itself as a “Town of Murals”.

There are more than 140 murals to discover, some of the main street, others in Mural Park, and others tucked away. 

The artworks feature the history of the area and range from traditional to ultra-modern in style.

Take the audio tour, available from the visitor information centre, to interpret the stories the murals tell.

Sheffield is also home to several cafés and eateries, as well as quirky stores such as World of Marbles, The Emporium and The Contraptuary,

A sneak peek at Tasmania's new Tarkine wilderness walk

The Tarkine is a large tract of protected wilderness in north-west Tasmania. It is a jaw-droppingly beautiful region; the largest expanse of temperate rainforest in the Southern Hemisphere. 

This week I got to walk the newly refurbed Julius River Rainforest Walk, a short but stunning stroll through rainforest and eucalypt forest alongside a pristine wild river. 

The relatively flat walk has recently been given a new non-slip surface without impacting on the authenticity of the experience. 

One of the best things about the Tarkine is that it is accessible, yet remains wild and rugged. Many great opportunities exist to experience the extraordinary natural and cultural values the Tarkine represents. 

Recreational opportunities in the Tarkine include short and long walking tracks, kayaking, rafting, fishing, photography, camping, self-touring, wildlife viewing and nature appreciation.

Officially opened in 2015, the Tarkine Drive provides predominately sealed access to the area. 

The Julius River Rainforest Walk was only completed a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully these images tempt you to make a visit, and also to the nearby Arthur River. 

The Julius River region has excellent picnic facilities, parking and a public toilet.