East Coast Wine Trail

East Coast Wine Trail
East Coast Wine Trail

Sunday, 30 April 2023

Another one bites the dust: Hyatt swoops for Mr & Mrs Smith



Another independent travel organisation has been snapped up by one of the big guys - although that is not the way they will spin it.

Hyatt Hotels is to buy the Mrs & Mrs Smith curated hotel booking platform, taking a 100% stake, Travel Mole reports.

Founded in 2003 by James and Tamara Lohan (above), Mr & Mrs Smith sells bookings for a collection of around 1,500 boutique and luxury hotels and resorts.

Hyatt says the deal will double its access to boutique and luxury hotels globally and it will employ over 100 Mr & Mrs Smith employees in its commercial services team, including the founders.

“We are excited by this planned acquisition and bringing World of Hyatt members even more global luxury offerings,” Hyatt said.

The Mr & Mrs Smith portfolio includes properties in over 20 countries where Hyatt has no presence.

Co-founder Tamara Lohan said she was "very excited to share the news that Hyatt Hotels Corporation is planning to acquire Mr & Mrs Smith."

She added: "20 years ago, James Lohan MBE and I were told we were crazy - that the world didn’t need another travel guide, that we’d never find a distributor or make a success out of hotel curation if we insisted on such rigorous standards. Sending reviewer couples out to make sure each and every hotel was perfect? Nuts! They said.

"Back then, we didn’t know how to publish a book, build a website or run a 24/7 travel team. We weren’t sure how to raise money or recruit a team of curators to seek out the very best hotels around the world. 

"We made it up as we went along, made plenty of mistakes, picked ourselves back up, and carried on. There have been times when things have been very challenging indeed, but we’ve always been able to adapt and survive - and now those two decades of working, learning and winging it have paid off."

The sale price is reported as being around $US66 million. 


Striking a blow: the French are at it again



Several airports across France will cancel flights due to more strike action planned for this Monday - May 1.

Stoppages are planned as air traffic controllers walk out, Travel Mole reports.

France’s civil aviation authority says the strikes are expected to heavily impact Paris airports Orly, CDG (above) and Beauvais, as well as Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes and Nice.

The next series of the long-running protests against the raising of the pension age in France are planned nationwide for May Day, with flights likely affected from today until early on Tuesday.

Air traffic controllers have also been conducting their own rolling strikes independent of the countrywide pension protests.

Even travellers flying over French territory could be affected.

The DGAC civil aviation authority has asked airlines to cancel one-third of scheduled flights at Orly Airport and 25% at Charles de Gaulle, Nice and Beauvais.

It wants 33% of flights grounded at the other airports too.

Around 3,700 flights overfly France every day.



Could you unintentionally break the law when travelling?



Every country has different customs and laws that could land the unwary traveller in trouble.

Tourists have this week been warned of bizarre laws in popular destinations which could see them hit with fines, or even jailed, should they unknowingly break them.

A spokesperson for StressFreeCarRental.com said: “Tourists should always research before jetting off on vacation so they don’t cut into their holiday budget by unknowingly breaking the law.

“Although some laws may not seem to make sense, holidaymakers must respect them else they could be fined or even locked up.

“Most tourists will not be intentionally setting out to break laws but will be unknowingly caught by unusual foreign rules they have never heard of before."

Here are some of the potential pitfalls identified by the StressFreeCarRental.com team.

They include apparently harmless acts, like wearing high heels or stepping on money, which are illegal in particular parts of the world.

Malaga, in Spain, has recently introduced a flurry of fineable offences, including bans on inflatable sex dolls and blow-up penis costumes - likely only to be of concern to pissed-out-of-their-heads Brits.

In Greece, by law, it is forbidden to wear high heels to famous tourist attractions like the Acropolis (above) and the Epidarus Theatre in the Peloponnese region. This is to preserve the history and ancient stone ruins of iconic sites.

In Thailand, stepping on Thai currency is a crime and even accidentally standing on Thai notes could get tourists a hefty jail sentence. The act is seen as disrespectful to the king because Thai notes and coins contain an image of his face.

Jaywalking is walking in the street or road unlawfully without regard for approaching traffic, which is illegal in New York. Tourists from abroad who cross the road whenever they deem it safe often unknowingly break these laws and are issued fines by police officers.

In Dubai, public displays of affection, including kissing, hugging, and holding hands, is illegal and those found to be breaking the law could be imprisoned or deported.

More bizarrely, kissing at train stations is illegal in France. 

Farewell kisses were causing delays of train departures over a century ago. The law has been in place since 1910 to avoid delays and overcrowding on platforms, but nowadays there is no formal penalty imposed.



A Prosecco toast to the coronation of King Charles III

There is nothing sacred when it comes to marketing opportunities. 

The coronation of King Charles III next week - an event I am doing my best to avoid - has seen a torrent of "tribute" products released.

And the wine industry was not to be left out with the release of a special release from Prosecco Bottega to mark the grotesque event on May 6 at Westminster Abbey in London.

The press release says: "The Bottega winery, closely linked to the United Kingdom, which represents one of its first commercial markets on a global scale, has produced a Prosecco dedicated to the new King in a limited edition for the special occasion.

"The Treviso-based company wished to commemorate this historic event with 'Bottega Platinum Coronation', an exclusive platinum-coloured metallised bottle. The label and capsule are customised with a reproduction of the crown enriched by the shades of the British flag."

OK.

Bottega Platinum Coronation is a Prosecco DOC made from glera grapes harvested in the province of Treviso.

It retails for around £25.00 ($47.50 in Aussie dollars), so it is not cheap.

It is, apparently, "great with pizza".

I wonder if it also goes well with quiche?

Saturday, 29 April 2023

Wolf Blass unveils new luxury releases



No matter what your price point is, there will be a Wolf Blass wine to match it.

If you are looing for a cheap tipple, then the brand created by German migrant Wolfgang Blass back in 1966 will have something to match your budget.

But Wolf Blass, now part of Treasury Wine Estates, also has several prestige wines in its new luxury collection, this week releasing five across three ranges - from $40-$200.

Chris Hatcher, the Wolf Blass chief winemaker, believes that the 2023 Luxury Collection captures the essence of the brand’s premium origins.

“Wolf forged a new path in luxury Australian wines, always setting a much higher standard amongst his peers and this philosophy remains as relevant today to the 2023 Luxury Collection as when he first began over 50 years ago,” Hatcher said.

The new collection’s wines feature three in the ‘grey’ range, and one each in the ‘black’ and ‘platinum’ ranges.

They are:

# Grey Label Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2022 – RRP $40

# Grey Label McLaren Vale Shiraz 2021 – RRP $45

# Grey Label Langhorne Creek Cabernet Shiraz 2021 – RRP $45

# Black Label Barossa, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale Cabernet Shiraz Malbec 2021 – RRP $130

# Platinum Label Medlands Vineyard, Barossa Valley Shiraz 2021 – RRP $200

“The Grey Label range - the first wines to bear the Wolf Blass name back in the day - represent the benchmark styles of their regions, showcasing varieties that carry a definite sense of place," says Hatcher.

“Black Label, the first ultra-premium wine made by Wolfgang in 1973 - and the record four-time winner of Australia’s most prestigious wine trophy, the Jimmy Watson Trophy - put the winery on the map and this embodies the history, style and quality of Wolf Blass, establishing itself as one of Australia’s greatest wines..

“To complete the collection, Platinum Label, our ultimate wine, is the manifestation of unique terroir and vineyard excellence, enhanced with our winemakers’ experience and skill.

“Individually and collectively, these wines have been consistently recognised the world over. Sophisticated and multi-layered, they are equally traditional yet contemporary, showcasing the Wolf Blass hallmarks of power and elegance.”

The outlier in the range, the Adelaide Hills chardonnay, was the nicest surprise for me; very elegant, classic Australian cooler-climate chardonnay with real personality.

The Grey Label Langhorne Creek cabernet shiraz is one for the cellar. Inky with dark berry and cassis notes, it is still tightly wound. 

For now I would go with the delightful Grey Label McLaren Vale shiraz; intense and juicy but smooth on the finish. Think black and blue fruits, power and intensity.

The Black Label cabernet shiraz malbec blend is impressively; deep and long with dark fruit notes and charry oak.

My first thought on the Platinum Label wine was that it merits another 20 years in the cellar. It is a huge wine, high in alcohol - although the label claims only 14.5%. Drink the others first. Save this one.

Visa rules a blow to Chinese tourism to Thailand



Tourism operators in Thailand are fearful new visa rules might threaten their business models aimed at attraction visitors from China.

Inbound operators are calling for clarity on the new visa procedures, which they believe could have significant impacts on tour groups and meetings and incentive groups catering to the lucrative Chinese market.

The National News Bureau of Thailand reports that from May 8, the Thai Consular Office in China will require every visitor to apply for an individual visa, regardless of whether they travel as part of a tour group.

Additionally, the number of applicants per travel agent will be limited, and applicants must submit a hotel reservation document and a financial document showing they are in possession of at least 10,000 yuan (around $2,200 in Australian dollars).

Some agents can only reserve visa applications three days a week with 20-30 applicants per round.

The new visa rules also require travel agents to present a certified document allowing foreign visa applications and a "yellow card" issued by the Chinese government, which must be renewed every one or two years, our Thailand correspondent reports.

Many Chinese agents’ cards expired during the pandemic, however, and a slow renewal process caused by a lack of officers made it impossible to renew them.

There are concerns that these new regulations could prompt Chinese travellers to opt for other destinations like Vietnam, Hong Kong, or Macau - adversely affecting Thailand’s target of attracting 5 million Chinese visitors this year.

The Association of Thai Travel Agents also reported that many Chinese tourists have been overcharged by taxi drivers in Thailand, noting that the issue could further compound concerns over the new visa procedures.

Image: Sonam Parmar, Scop.io  



Culinary royalty to grace Dark Mofo Winter Feast in Hobart



Hobart's Dark Mofo festival has pulled off a culinary coup by enticing one of Europe's leading chefs to Tasmania for its Winter Feast.

This culinary superstar is not from France, or Italy, but from Slovenia: world renowned Ana Roš from Hiša Franko has for the past decade been regarded as one of the world's most innovative pan handlers.

She will join Rodney Dunn and Stephen Peak from The Agrarian Kitchen to showcase the best of Tasmanian produce in an exciting collaboration.

For those not familiar with Roš, she is the chef/patron of Slovenia’s two Michelin starred Hiša Franko and has been named ambassador of gastronomic tourism by the World Tourism Organisation.

Roš featured in the Netflix documentary Chef's Table, and named world's best female chef by The World's 50 Best Restaurants academy in 2017.

Her restaurant Hiša Franko was named one of the world’s best 30 restaurants by Travel + Leisure.

This remarkable talent speaks Slovenian, English, Italian, French, Croatian and Spanish fluently and "some" German

The City of Hobart Dark Mofo Winter Feast returns for its 10th year with eight nights of feasting and entertainment over two weeks.

The dates are June 8-11 and June 15-18 and there will be 90 stallholders, fire, music, and fun.

The events will be spreading across Salamanca Lawns and Princes Wharf Shed 1 on the Hobart waterfront.

“Both Ana Roš and The Agrarian Kitchen have elevated regional dining in their respective countries by taking a bold and innovative approach to their food," says Winter Feats food curator Amanda Vallis.

"We’re thrilled to be able to highlight such incredible artists of the culinary world.”

The Agrarian Kitchen duo and Roš will be delivering a four-course menu so guests can expect Slovenian-inspired dishes made with seasonal Tasmanian produce.

The dinner will take place in a newly constructed cooking-and-dining structure that seats 50 people around the perimeter, providing an intimate dining experience.

Read more on the website.


Friday, 28 April 2023

This new Bangkok hotel looks a bit special

Gourmet on the Road receives a swag of press releases about new hotels.

Some are accompanied by pictures of building sites, so the media can imagine what the end result might look like when work is completed.

Others go the cheap route and employ photographers with very little talent.

The smart ones Others wait until they are on the verge of opening and send stunning render shots.

That's the case with INNSiDE by Meliá Bangkok Sukhumvit, the first INNSiDE hotel in Thailand, and set to open in July.

I have had previous good experiences with the Melia Group - and Bangkok, crazy, noisy Bangkok, is one of my favourite travel destinations.

Situated in the heart of Bangkok’s lively On Nut (also known as Upper Sukhumvit) neighbourhood, the 208-room INNSiDE by Meliá Bangkok Sukhumvit’s design draws its inspiration from some of Bangkok’s most famous landmarks.

A sky-high transparent infinity pool, pool bar and a Spanish tapas bar (Melia is a Spanish hotel group) crown the new hotel’s two uppermost floors, the 34th and 33rd floors. Views await.

“Together with my imaginative team, INNSiDE by Meliá Bangkok Sukhumvit would have to be, hands down, the most dynamic hotel project I’ve worked with hitherto; the buzz is palpable,” said the hotel’s general manager Aarron Nelson.

“Our new hotel challenges convention by offering the unexpected, with its endless opportunities to seek stimulus, inspiration and adventure with every step – and occasionally time to relax too.”

The hotel is a 30-minute ride from Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Here are a few images that whetted my appetite, and hopefully yours.








A Mickey Mouse lawsuit? Disney v DeSantis


The Walt Disney Corporation has declared war on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Disney, one of the biggest employers in the US state, has accused DeSantis of organising a campaign of "government retaliation" and filed a lawsuit against the smarmy politician.

The legal action escalates an ongoing battle between the entertainment group and the Republican politician, Travel Mole reports.

The two sides have been at odds since Disney chiefs criticised a state law banning discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in primary schools.

The lawsuit came after state officials voided a development deal involving the firm's Florida theme park.

There has been weeks of bad blood between DeSantis and the people behind Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck since Disney's public opposition to Florida’s "Don't Say Gay" law.

Disney said DeSantis' moves to assert control over its operations threatened its business and violated its constitutional rights.

It asked the court to negate the moves.

"Disney regrets it has come to this," the company's parks division said in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Florida.

"But having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponise government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain state officials."

Disney opened Walt Disney World (above) in Florida in 1971 and now operates four theme parks in the Orlando precinct.

The legal action was filed after a board appointed by DeSantis voted to take away control from Disney for its resort areas in Orlando.


The resort paradise that is also a violent crime hotspot



The Mexican resort of Cancun has a global reputation as a beach paradise.

Just recently, however, it has become a dangerous crime hotspot.

Travel Mole reports that police have recently found eight bodies dumped in two different locations in the resort region, believed to be victims of drug cartel violence.

The US State Department has issued a level 2 advisory for Americans, recommending travellers exercise increased caution while in the local Quintana Roo region, due to crime and kidnapping concerns.

The Canadian Government travel website warns "theere are high rates of violent crime, such as homicides, kidnappings, carjacking and assaults, including in popular tourist destinations such as the Mayan Riviera (Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Tulum), and Acapulco.

"Criminal groups and drug cartels are present in tourist areas. Inter-gang and cartel fighting has taken place in restaurants, hotels and nightclubs frequented by tourists.

"Innocent bystanders have been injured or killed. You may be in the wrong place at the wrong time and become a victim of violent crime."

The Australian Government's Smartraveller website says: "Exercise a high degree of caution in Mexico overall due to high levels of violent crime".

So consider yourself warned.

In Cancun, state authorities have urged people "not to share on social networks false news that only damages the image of Quintana Roo".

Over 100,000 people have been reported missing in Mexico, Travel Mole says.

Five bodies were found in an abandoned building and three in a wooded area outside the resort area.

Earlier this month, Four men were killed in the main resort area after a gang dispute.

Four Americans were also kidnapped and two of them were killed.



Thursday, 27 April 2023

Wine Victoria pushes the sustainability message

Sustainability is the key buzzword in the wine industry right and Wine Victoria has announced a series of sustainability workshops to make sure the state's wine producers stay ahead of the sustainability curve.

The workshops are part of the Growing Victorian wine into the future program in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture.

Working with the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) the workshops will cover two key areas:  Sustainable Winegrowers Australia (SWA) certification and moving towards carbon neutrality in the vineyard and winery. 

The first series of workshops are to be held in May and June across five locations and are aimed at supporting Victorian vineyards and wineries seeking sustainability certification (SWA).

Participants will be provided with a set of customisable templates and resources to support their preparation for audit and maintenance of the program.

The second series of workshops, also held in May/June 2023 across five locations, will be are focused on working towards carbon neutrality. 

According to SWA’s 2022 Impact report, 78% of Australians want action and consider a brand’s social and environmental actions when making a purchase. 

Additionally, 54% of global wine drinkers only trust sustainable wine that is officially certified - although I've never come across one of them. In my experience, a large proportion of wine drinkers buy because the label is eye-catching, or they like the price. 

“There has been strong growth in the uptake of the Sustainable Winegrowers Australia certification," says Wine Victoria chair Stephanie Duboudin. 

"Wine Victoria is strongly committed to providing the opportunities for our winemakers and growers to gain this important certification to ensure that our members have the skills and accreditations required for a future-focused industry. 

For a full list of workshops or to register, see https://winevictoria.org.au/growing-victorian-wine-into-the-future/ 

Pretzel logic: Meet the gourmet festival that will celebrate a humble snack



The Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf will host Australia's first pretzel festival this weekend (April 29-30).

The town has proud German links and is well known for its pretzels, which are served at local restaurants, bakeries, and cafes in many different forms.

Whether your tastes are savoury or sweet, Australia’s oldest German settlement promises to have something to please your palate.

Think pretzel ice cream, pretzel cocktails, pretzel beer, gin, wine and pretzel matching, pretzel colouring in, pretzel pizza, naan pretzel. pretzel pasta, pretzel making, pretzel jewellery, competitions, sweet pretzels, sour pretzels, pretzel fudge, pretzel latte, pretzel chocolate flowers, gingerbread pretzels, pretzel fashions and .... OK, you get the picture.



The new festival is the brainchild of the Hahndorf Business and Traders Association.

"It is actually surprising we haven’t run a festival celebrating the pretzel until now,” says festival director and Hahndorf marketing manager Mikyla Gilbert.

The pretzel is thought to have originated in Europe, possibly created by monks in monasteries. It has gained huge popularity in the US, where it is a billion-dollar industry.

Hot pretzels are popular as street snacks and crunchy crispy smaller pretzels are served in bars across the globe.

“Being Australia’s oldest German settlement as a village we should take pride in celebrating the pretzel with visitors," says Gilbert.

“We are encouraging the entire trader community to celebrate the doughy, salty pretzel in as many ways as possible."

And, of course, once you have had you fill of pretzels, Hahndorf is surrounded by several of Australia's best wine producers.  

For more details see https://hahndorfsa.org.au/pretzel-festval/




Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Rex cuts flights; can't find enough pilots

Oops. Upwardly mobile Australian airline Rex is cutting its flights on nine regional routes across four states from May 1, citing a "chronic" shortage of pilots.

Among the destinations affected by the schedule changes will be Cairns, remote Bamaga, Broken Hill, Wagga Wagga and Mount Gambier.

As well as the pilot shortage, Rex says it is also suffering from a lack of engineers and aircraft parts shortages that are affecting its fleet of Saab 340 turboprop planes, Travel Mole reports.

“These adjustments are necessitated by the chronic shortage of airline professionals, particularly pilots and engineers,” said Warrick Lodge, Rex GM of network strategy. .

“We pledge to reinstate the services once the situation has stabilised.”

The Mildura-Adelaide service will be grounded completely while another four routes will see new schedules.

Airline shuts the door on buyers of bargain tickets it sold in error



Bad news for canny flyers who snapped up some ridiculous air ticket bargains after an error made by Japanese airline ANA.

The discounted fares appeared on ANA's Vietnamese website on April 17 as the currency conversion rate was miscalculated.

Passengers were widely reported to have bought business class tickets for under $400 and first class tickets for less than $1,000. Fares for these routes can reach as high as $10,000.

After first saying it would honour the fares, the Japanese carrier today decided to cancel and refund the tickets that sold at a fraction of their face value.

Which looks like a double PR blunder.

Why did ANA initially announce it would honour the tickets?

Today, the airline confirmed in a statement that it would issue cancelations and refunds as the extent of the incident became clearer, the website simpleflying.com reported.

Customer service is ANA's top priority, and we strive to maintain safety and quality in our operations every day," the airline said is a statement. "We truly regret that this issue occurred, and deeply apologize to our customers for any inconveniences.

"For the flights which were erroneously processed, ANA will cancel and fully refund all itineraries. ANA will notify each customer affected by the error."

The flights sold at absurdly low fares mainly consisted of flights from Jakarta to locations in North America and the Caribbean, with stopovers in Tokyo.

ANA did not disclose how many tickets were sold at the erroneous fares. 

Avani hotel brand to expand its global footprint



Minor Hotels has big plans for its Avani brand.

Launched in 2011, Avani Hotels & Resorts currently has 38 properties in 20 countries across Asia, Australasia, the Middle East, Indian Ocean, Africa, and one hotel in Europe in Portugal.

Now Minor Hotels, which operates 530 hotels in 56 countries, has announced the expansion in Europe of its lifestyle brand targeted at "millennial-minded travellers"

Avani Hotels & Resorts will add five properties in key cities in Europe: one in Spain, two in Italy, one in Germany and next year, one in the Netherlands.

Coinciding with the European expansion, Avani will also launch in Central and South America with hotels to be added in Mexico and Colombia.The first of the strategic additions will see Avani make its debut in Spain in June, with the rebranded 101-key Avani Alonso Martínez Madrid Hotel (above).

In Italy the brand will launch with the rebranding of two hotels – first the 65-key Avani Palazzo Moscova Milan Hotel in June, followed by the 144-key Avani Rio Novo Venice Hotel in the summer.

Later in the year Avani will also debut in Germany with the rebranded Avani Frankfurt City Hotel with 256 keys.

Also in Europe, Avani will enter the Netherlands in 2024 with the launch of a 163-key hotel in Amsterdam: the rebranded Avani Museum Quarter Amsterdam Hotel, located in one of the Dutch capital’s most vibrant districts.

Regional operations in the Americas will start in one of Central America’s leading tourist destinations with the launch of the 140-key Avani Cancun Airport Hotel in Mexico in Q3, followed in Q4 by the 66-key Avani Royal Zona T Bogota Hotel in Colombia.

Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotels, says the expansion of the Avani brand’s footprint into Europe and Latin America reflects the group's strategy of continuing to expand and diversify its hotel offerings in the upscale tourist segment.

“Avani is now a well-established brand in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and known for its great value proposition, its design philosophy and unique service offering," he said.

"The work of recent years has prepared us to commit strategically to the expansion of Avani’s footprint into new regions of operation and marks a significant milestone for Minor Hotels.”


Meet the whiskey that pays tribute to Elvis in a very strange way



Celebrity endorsements are nothing new in the drinks business, but you have to wonder what the late Elvis Presley would think of a new whiskey named in his honour.

South Carolina-based Elvis Whiskey has launched a new peanut butter, banana and bacon-flavoured whiskey into its portfolio.

Which sounds downright absurd to me - but is probably considered normal in the land of the crazies.

The new whiskey was apparently inspired by Elvis’ favourite sandwich, the flavours of which just so happen to create “a perfectly balanced blend of sweet, savoury, salty and smoky” notes when recreated in whiskey form, the makers say, tongue firmly in cheek, I hope.

Or perhaps not, as their website blurb says: "Midnight Snack delivers the hunka hunka burning love for peanut butter, banana and bacon flavor you’ve been dreaming of."   

The singer was known for his food cravings and the Midnight Snack is the third product to come from Elvis Whiskey, joining the brand’s flagship offerings Elvis Tiger Man Tennessee Straight Whiskey and Elvis The King Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey.

Elvis Whiskey is produced by Charleston-based Grain & Barrel Spirits, The Drinks Business reports.

“Elvis is one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century and continues to inspire his fans today, as we’ve seen by the massive success of the recent Elvis movie, both in its record-breaking box office numbers and awards,” said Matti Anttila, founder of Grain & Barrel.

Grain & Barrel Spirits recommends serving Midnight Snack as a straight pour, on the rocks, or as a shot or in a cocktail.

The whiskeys are part of a licensing collaboration between Grain & Barrel Spirits and Authentic Brands Group, who bought the Elvis brand from Presley's family.

The Tennessee-bottled whiskey is priced at US$34.99 so is clearly aimed at an, ahem, distinct market segment.


Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Museum to honour Kiwi soldiers to open in France



A new $15 million museum will open in Le Quesnoy, France, in October, to commemorate the New Zealand soldiers who liberated the town from four years of German occupation during World War One.

The museum will be the first in European for Kiwi soldiers who died on the continent during the war, and will be called the New Zealand Liberation Museum – Te Arawhata. 

"The museum will be Aotearoa's tūrangawaewae on the Western Front," said Sir Don McKinnon, chairperson of the New Zealand Memorial Museum Trust (NZMMT).

"It will be a memorial that commemorates the approximately 12,500 New Zealanders who died in France and Belgium during World War One."

Te Arawhata will open officially on October 11.

Its name means "the ladder" in te reo Māori, after the way Kiwi soldiers used a ladder to scale the town's walls on November 4, 1918.

It also refers to a "pathway to higher things, which enables learnings from the past to be used to reflect on the price and value of freedom and the importance of friendship to support a better future", a statement announcing the museum's opening said.

"It will be a place that honours our past, highlights the importance World War One continues to hold, and tells the extraordinary stories of Kiwi men and women who served in Europe," McKinnon said.

He said allied nations including Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, and the US built commemorative museums in Europe after the first World War, but New Zealand has never had one.

The museum will feature an "immersive storytelling experience" from Wētā Workshop to highlight those stories.

"Visitors will experience a mix of cinematic, sensory, and emotive environments," said Andrew Thomas, senior creative director at Wētā Workshop.

"They will be able to immerse themselves in the dramatic storytelling, sculptural artworks, soundscapes, and projections to connect on an emotional level and remember the people involved in what is a hugely significant event."

Among the exhibits will be a giant "hyper-realistic" soldier.

A number of place names in the town are inspired by the connection between Le Quesnoy and New Zealand, including the Place des All Blacks and the Avenue des Néo-Zélandais.

Le Quesnoy is in northern France, less than three hours from Paris near the Belgian border. 

The town railway station is a one-hour train journey from Lille TGV train station. Lille is a one-hour TGV train ride from Paris and less than 1.5 hours on Eurostar from London.

The New Zealand Liberation Museum – Te Arawhata is located in a renovated mansion house which was the former mayoral residence and later the headquarters of the local Gendarmerie (French Police). The NZMMT purchased the building in 2017 and have been renovating it over the past two years.

Full details of the museum project and fundraising efforts can be found at nzliberationmuseum.com



For King and country: a £25,000 bottle of whisky


Distillers Gordon & MacPhail have unveiled a special single malt whisky from 1948 - the year of his birth - to mark King Charles III’s Coronation in May.

There will doubtless be many companies jumping on the coronation bandwagon to sell all sorts of tat, but few will be as expensive as The Private Collection 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery.

The whisky was filled into a first-fill Sherry cask on April 10,1948, by Gordon & MacPhail. 

Only 281 bottles will be available of this ultra-rare release which was bottled on December 15 - the anniversary of Charlie's christening.

Priced at £25,000 per bottle - that's around $47,000 in Australian pesos - the whisky retains a cask strength of 50.4% after more than seven decades of maturation.

I is described as "a vibrant and fragrant single malt packed with festive spices, mulled berries, a hint of raisin and lemon zest."

Gordon & MacPhail also released a 70-year-old single malt to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. And the family has links with the distiller.

HRH Prince Charles - as he was known then - officially reopened the company's Benromach Distillery in 1998.

To celebrate the release of The King Charles III Coronation Edition, a donation of £25,000 will be made by Gordon & MacPhail to The Prince’s Foundation. How very generous of them.

Stephen Rankin, Director of Prestige [what a great job title] at Gordon & MacPhail, said: “This exceptional whisky is a fitting tribute to His Majesty, who has continually promoted and protected British tradition and excellence over many decades.

"This release has been carefully nurtured for over seventy years and is testament to great patience, long term thinking and commitment to creating high quality products; principles that have been handed down through generations of people working for our family business.

“For more than 50 years, King Charles has placed a firm focus on sustainability and supporting communities. Our donation to The Prince’s Foundation will support his vision of a more sustainable world and aims to help create future legacies.”

Founded in 1895, Gordon & MacPhail has bottled spirit from over 100 Scottish distilleries.

For more information see www.gordonandmacphail.com

Cyclists on the right track in Slovenia

 

Regular readers will be aware that Slovenia is among my favourite European destinations.

It it is clean, green, beautiful, affordable and accessible.

And as Slovenia is a relatively small country, much of it can be explored by bike, or e-bike.

The small country is, of course, home to two of the world's top cyclists in Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogacar.

Slovenia, well set up for tourists, has several themed cycling routes linking destinations and providers sharing the Slovenia Green label.

The Slovenia Green cycling routes are for cyclists who want to explore an unknown country on their own, or with friends, but do not want to be part of a group.

Cyclists who don’t want to waste time looking for the best routes, sights and accommodation, but are happy to stumble up on them.

In all there ar six Slovenia Green cycling routes, which link nature, culture and cuisine.

The Slovenia Green Gourmet Route, perhaps of the most interest to readers of GOTR, features a journey through Slovenia by bike and with stops along the way, where you’ll be spoilt for gourmet treats.

The 11-day experience from Ljubljana to Maribor passes through wine-growing and framing regions as well as featuring Michelin-rated restaurants.

For full details see https://www.slovenia.info/en/stories/slovenia-green-routes-sustainable-cycling-routes

Cycling is one of the most sustainable ways to explore Slovenia. This is especially true if you ride along one of the themed cycling routes linking destinations and providers with the Slovenia Green label

Monday, 24 April 2023

More air routes between New Zealand and the US



American Airlines has announced a new seasonal service linking Auckland with Los Angeles for the southern hemisphere summer.

Launching on December 21, the new route marks the airline’s second Auckland route. It launched Dallas/Fort Worth New Zealand flights in late 2022.

The introduction of LAX flights is part of American Airlines’ focus on strengthening its Asia-Pacific footprint, Travel Mole reported.

“The response we had from the New Zealand public when we returned last year was overwhelmingly positive,” said Kyle Mabry, VP of Operations, EMEA & APAC.

“Working closely again with our partmers, we aim to provide customers with a sustainable, seamless travel experience.”

The southern hemisphere daily service from LAX will operate until March 3 using a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

American also offers a codeshare service between Auckland and LAX operated by oneworld alliance partner Qantas.

Shining a light on Sydney's attractions



The festival that changes the face of Sydney, Vivid Sydney, returns to shine many lights on the city from May 26-June 17.

The free Light Walk will this year be an 8.5km adventure with 60 light attractions including Dark Spectrum, a completely new experience opening up Wynyard Station's secret tunnels to the public for the very first time.

The festival's Music, Ideas and inaugural Food programs range from Hollywood duo Mike White and Jennifer Coolidge to an all-star tribute night to Archie Roach plus one-off culinary experiences like the Vivid Sydney Dinner, a multi-sensory feast with a menu from Danielle Alvarez and Ben Greeno.

You can check out the full program to start planning.

And pre-planning is definitely needed with Sydney hotels and eateries promising to be packed during the event.

Vivid Sydney, which started on a much smaller scale in 2009, is an annual festival of light, music and ideas that includes outdoor immersive light installations and projections. performances by local and international musicians, and an ideas exchange forum featuring public talks and debates with leading creative thinkers.

The centrepiece is light sculptures, multimedia works and building projections that transform various buildings and landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Image: Destination NSW 


Sunday, 23 April 2023

Thailand pushes back start of new tax on tourists



Thailand has pushed back the implementation of its new tourism tax until at least September.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told local media that tax, which will see arrivals In Thailand pay 300 baht ($AUD13), has been pushed back from its original implementation date of June 1.

The reason given: an inability to prepare the system in time.

The new date is now supposed to be in September of this year, coinciding with the formation of the new government, The Khaosod English website reported.

The start of the tax was previously pushed back due to problems processing the fee through airline systems.

The fee will be waived for foreign nationals who enter Thailand using a border pass or border crossing letter.The new entry fee is separate from the departure tax that has been included in airfares for decades. 

The exit fee varies based on the airport, with Bangkok’s main Suvarnabhumi Airport charging the most, at 700 baht.

Since the pandemic, the Tourism Authority of Thailand's focus has shifted from increasing traveller volume to attracting long-stay and high-spending tourists.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports the number of daily Covid-19 cases in Bangkok has surged from 400 to 700, nearly twice the number of cases reported before the Songkran festival, which sees people spray water at each other.



Meet the most expensive destinations on earth. And the cheapest.



Do you prefer to travel in conspicuous style, or on a budget?

Whether you love luxury or are  a backpacker, here is a list of the most expensive destinations on the planet - and some of the cheapest.

Using data from various sources, including average hotel and food prices, transportation costs and attraction prices, the website Traveller’s Elixir has ranked the world’s least and most affordable places to travel. 

It is their list, not mine, so please argue with them if you disagree. 

Top of the list for expensive getaways is Monaco (above), which Traveller’s Elixir suggests will set you back $2,258 ($AUD3,374) for a five-day trip.

In contrast, the least expensive destination is Delhi in Indi, where a stay would cost you $181 ($AUD 270) for he same number of days.

Here are the 10 most expensive destinations and the average cost of a five-day stay in US dollars:
1. Monaco ($2,258)
2. St Barts ($2,181)
3. Gstaad, Switzerland($2,065)
4. Reykjavic, Iceland ($1,919)
5. Bora Bora ($1,918)
6. Honolulu ($1,914)
7. San Franscico ($1,885)
8. New York City ($1,779)
9. Grand Cayman ($1,637, £1,316)
10. Venice ($1,548)

And the 10 most affordable destinations based on the average cost of a five-day stay:
1. Delhi, India ($181)
2. Phnom Penh ($224)
3. Kathmandu ($229)
4. Tbilisi ($249)
5. Medellin ($255)
6. Ho Chi Minh City ($259)
7. Chiang Mai ($286)
8. Cairo ($289)
9. Luang Prabang ($291)
10. Bangkok ($292)



Meet the nuns who'd like to sell you a bottle or two of their wine


It was a good vintage in 2022 for winemakers in the south of the Netherlands. 

Which is why the nuns from the the Sint Catharinadal monastery in Oosterhout have too much wine in their cellar. 

The enterprising nuns have started an online campaign to sell the excess stock, Breda Vandaag newspaper reported. 

“The dry, warm and sunniest season ever produced beautiful, full bunches of grapes last year,” Prioress Sister Maria Magdalena told the newspaper. 

"We were able to make 64,000 bottles of rosé and white wine from this, almost twice as much as in a normal season." 

But it has proved a challenge for the nuns to get rid of their stock, so they have linked with the Breda Maakt Mij Bliij (Breda Makes Me Happy) online platform. 

Bottles of the 2022 white blend (pinot blanc, pinot gris and auxerrois blanc) are on offer from  €14.50 a bottle, along with the 2022 rosé made from pinot noir and gamay. 

The nuns started making wine in 2014 to fund the maintenance of their convent’s buildings. 

Thibaud van der Steen, co-founder of Breda Maakt Mij Blij, which helps producers, farmers and growers sell excess goods, said the nuns called him a few weeks ago to ask for help.

Image: Breda Vandaag

Saturday, 22 April 2023

That gold must be somewhere: massive heist at Toronto airport



Toronto's Lester Pearson Airport was a complete shambles when I was unfortunate enough to use it last year.

So it comes as no surprise to hear that millions of dollars worth of gold and other-high value goods went missing at the airport - and no one has a clue how it happened.

Canadian police are investigating the theft of at least $20 million in gold from a container that was being shipped through the airport, Travel Mole reports.

The entire container apparently disappeared without anyone noticing.

“Our investigators have got their eyes opened to all avenues - we’re looking at all angles on how this item was stolen,” said Peel Regional Police Inspector Stephen Duivesteyn.

“What I can say is that the container had a high-value shipment. It did contain gold but was not exclusive to gold and contained other items of monetary value.”

Local media reported that more than 1,600kg of gold was in the container.

Police said there was no impact to normal airport and passenger operations.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority said the thieves accessed the cargo holding area via an adjacent company which has its entrance outside secure areas of the airport.

No arrests have been made yet. 

Champagne tourism route celebrates 70 years

In Australia, along with many other wine producing countries, wine tourism is a recent arrival.

In the Hunter Valley 40 years ago there was barely anywhere to stay other than a couple of motels in Cessnock.

Now wine tourism is massive from the US to South Africa, Argentina to Italy.

In some parts of Europe - definitely not all - wine tourism has been a thing for quite a while.

This year, for instance, marks the 70th anniversary of the Route Touristique du Champagne, the tourist trail of Champagne.

The route is made up of several well-signposted circuits that take visitors through the different terroirs of the appellation - and every turn has its own potential Champagne discovery.

The routes include the Montagne de Reims; the Marne Valley; the Coteaux Vitryats; the Côte des Blancs and the South Slopes of Epernay; the Coteaux du Sézannais and Petit Morin; the Massif of St Thierry and the Ardre Valley; the Marne Valley West and finally the Côte des Bar.

There are a number of events taking place throughout the year to mark the anniversary and these will be posted via most Champagne social media networks and via this link: https://www.tourisme-en-champagne.com/

Friday, 21 April 2023

More Heathrow chaos predicted in time for coronation

I personally have zero interest in the coronation of a rather dweebish king.

I just think he and his equally unappealing consort should pay for their own ghastly extravaganza and not expect struggling British taxpayers to foot the bill.

If you are heading for the Charles and Camilla show, however, you might want to make sure you get to London in plenty of time.

Because, as certain as the fact that night follows day, there is talk of another transport strike.

Travel Mole reports that more "Inevitable disruption and delays" are expected at Heathrow Airport next month as 1,400 security officers plan yet another an airport strike.

The industrial action is likely cause some disruption for travellers arriving for the ghastly event.

Security guards also took part in a 10-day airports strike over Easter.

“This dispute is bound to escalate with more workers being balloted and disruption set to continue throughout the summer,” said Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham.

The last strike involved the security officers based at Terminal 5.

Heathrow is acting all defiant.

“We will not let Unite disrupt the flow of visitors to the UK during such an important period for the country,” it said in a statement.

Airport management says it has offered a 10% pay increase plus a lump sum.

The strike could overlap with more industrial action at Passport Office locations.

Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members plan strikes from May 2-6.

Cheap airfares to Asia on sale - but for three days only



Fancy a break in south-east Asia?

Flights from Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur (above) are on sale now for three days starting from $139/NZ$169.

The AirAsia X sale also features fares from Auckland to Sydney starting from NZ$129 each way.

The three-day sale runs until midnight on Sunday and features fares valid for a travel period extending from April 24 to November 30.

“We are thrilled to be back in Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, as two of our most popular mid-range destinations and Asia’s low-fare leader, we will continue to offer the best-value fares for our guests Down Under and this sale certainly delivers on this promise," says Karen Chan, AirAsia Group Chief Commercial Officer.

“We expect these unbeatable low fares to sell out fast so we encourage bargain seekers to get in quick to avoid disappointment.

“The sale enables our Aussie and Kiwi passengers to experience the wonders of Malaysia in the vibrant and metropolitan capital city Kuala Lumpur, or continue on throughout south-east Asia on our extensive network to over 120 leisure-favourite destinations like Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, or even to the wider Asian countries, to Korea, Japan, China and India."

AAX also features premium flatbeds for those seeking extra legroom and comfort which are included in the sale starting from NZ$319 from Auckland to Sydney and from $529 from Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur, all inclusive, one way during the sale.

Book through the AirAsia super app.



Discover 18 days of fun and games in Darwin



Looking for an excuse to visit Australia's Top End?

How about the 18-day Darwin Festival in August?

The Darwin Festival returns this year from August 10-27.

The program features music, theatre, comedy, dance, cabaret, visual arts, and family events with a full program to be unveiled at the end of May.

Festival Park is the heart of the Festival with a range of entertainment options from theatre shows to free music gigs on the Power and Water Bamboo Bandstand.

The park also features bars perfect for a pre-show aperitif and long communal tables at which to linger and savour festival food offerings.

For more information about the Darwin Festival see www.darwinfestival.org.au

Image: Helen Orr  



Thursday, 20 April 2023

Another tourism hotspot plans to tax visitors



Regular readers will have noticed a trend towards destinations imposing taxes on the visitors they try so hard to attract.

From entry taxes to bed taxes, holiday destinations are increasingly looking for their pound of financial flesh from tourists.

The South Korean resort island of Jeju - known for its many beach resorts - is the latest spot investigating new ways to gouge visitors.

It is one of the country’s top leisure destinations and is predominately visited by domestic tourists, although its popularity is growing with foreigners.

Local officials noted Jeju's popularity has led to growing garbage and sewage issues, Travel Mole reports.

Jeju is contemplating a number of different series of tourist fees, including imposing an entry fee.

It also is planning a KRW1,500 ($AU1.50) fee per night, while visitors renting a car or minivan will pay KRW5,000 and KRW10,000 respectively.

Officials at Jeju Special Self-Governing Province said the average total tourist fee would be around KRW8,170 per day, which is a fairly hefty $9.20.

How to turn your Monnet into a work of cocktail art


The craze for white spirits including gin, vodka and tequila has seen cognac, armagnac and other brandies somewhat sidelined.

But brandy-based cocktails are back and being heavily promoted for Mother's Day on May 14.

Monnet Cognac has a history dating back to 1838 but is a relatively recent arrival in the Australian market.

There are six Monnet brands available at Dan Murphy’s stores with the VS ($72.99) perfect for creating a range of cocktails.

Cognac is, of course, one of the most versatile spirits for the way it can be consumed either straight, on the rocks, within a cocktail, or paired with a meal.

Monnet Cognac has become famous through Leonetti Capiello’s renowned poster, ‘Sunshine in a glass’, which was illustrated for Monnet in the 1920s.

True to tradition, Monnet uses a copper pot still double distillation to produce its cognacs, which are aged for a minimum of two years.

The Monnet VS is aged in Limousin oak casks for a minimum of three years. Here are three cocktail suggestions.



1. ‘Because I Said So' Marauder

In a mixing glass: 50ml Monnet Cognac, 10ml strawberry liqueur, 30ml cranberry juice (sweetened), 5ml lime juice (freshly squeezed). Method: Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with skewered raspberries.

2. Spicy Mama (above) 

Ingredients: 20ml Monnet VSOP, 30ml Monnet Salamander, 15ml 4-spice syrup, 40ml fresh orange juice, 40ml fresh pineapple juice. Method: In a shaker, pour Cognac Monnet VSOP and Salamander, syrup and fresh juices. Shake vigorously and pour into a long glass filled with ice cubes.

3. Mum’s Sidecar

Ingredients: 60ml Monnet Cognac Sunshine, 30ml of Triple Sec, 15ml-30ml of lemon juice to taste. Garnish with a lemon twist. Method: Cut a notch in a lemon wedge, then run the lemon around the rim of a cocktail glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of superfine sugar. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice and shake until cold. Strain the drink into the prepared glass. Garnish with lemon or orange twist.




Wednesday, 19 April 2023

Hotel chain hit for imposing "hidden charges"



One of the most aggravating aspects of booking a stay at a US resort is the imposition of hidden "resort charges".

This is where the price for a night is listed at a certain price, but when you book you are hit with extra resort charges for using the pool, or the gym, and other facilities you might have absolutely no interest in visiting.

These fees can be hefty. At the Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas, resort fees are $45 per day on top of your room rate.  

Now Marriott has been hit with a $225,000 fine (chump change to a big corporation) to the state of Pennsylvania for not complying with an agreement over "hidden" resort fees.

PA Attorney General Michelle Henry said Marriott was given multiple extensions to the 2021 settlement and failed to meet a February deadline, Travel Mole reported.

As part of the settlement, Marriott was required to list all mandatory fees clearly at all stages of the booking process.

The state accused the hotel group of "drip pricing", which means only showing the true cost at the final booking confirmation stage or when checking in at the hotel.

Marriott will pay the fine for failing to meet compliance deadlines.

“What the settlement demands is simple: be up front with consumers and do not hide fees for hotel stays,” Henry said.

"I am thankful that Marriott has agreed to comply with the terms of settlement agreement without the need for litigation."


Leading Australian wine brand puts vineyards up for sale



Banrock Sation, one of Australia's highest-profile wine brands, has put its vineyards and facilities up for sale.

Owned by Australia's second-biggest wine company, Accolade Wines, Banrock Sation is selling a 235- hectare Riverland vineyard on two titles that produces an average of 5,700 tonnes of grapes annually.

Most of the vines were planted between 1993 and 1996, agents Langley & Co says on their website.

The vineyards are planted with shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, semillon and chardonnay plus a mix of alternative varieties.

The sale, by expressions of interest, includes a 1,619 ml annual water licence and "extensive building improvements" including a modern visitor centre, two houses and shedding.

The winey plant and equipment are for sale by negotiation.

The package includes the Wine Centre and "world-renowned wetland" subject to a long-term lease with Accolade Wines.

Expressions of Interest are invited to be lodged by May 5.

New restaurant aims to deliver local flavours



Wellington is a funny city. It can be cold and wet - and is also very hilly.

But the New Zealand capital is also home to several terrific bars and eateries, with a new one to be unveiled later this week.

The InterContinental Wellington will open GPO, a new restaurant that pays homage to the General Post Office that once occupied the same site, on Friday.

Chef Carl Maunder will head a kitchen brigade that will serve dishes using local produce inspired by the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Maunder has worked in Auckland, Adelaide, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Dubai but is returning to his home town. 

Think dishes like a seafood platter (above) with oysters, Cloudy Bay clams, Mills Bay mussels, tiger prawns and Ruakaka kingfish.

Small plates might include Wairarapa organic vegetable crudités with Anabelle goat's fromage blanc, and duck manti, described as ‘Turkish ravioli’ with pomegranate, garlic yoghurt and paprika butter.

Mains might feature linguine vongole with Cloudy Bay clams, jamon, red chilli and chives, or Strait speared butterfish with South Coast seaweed butter, lemon and capers. Hawke's Bay organic beef will also be showcased.


InterContinental GM Scott Hamilton says: “The new restaurant adds to InterContinental Wellington’s reputation as one of the city’s top destinations for both business and pleasure.

“It is exciting to unveil GPO as a strong culinary concept that will appeal to both locals and visitors, giving guests even more reason to stay with us."

New Zealand brand Temuka Pottery has crafted bespoke crockery for the new restaurant, while there will be a team of in-house sommeliers.

For details see www.gpo.co.nz.


Tuesday, 18 April 2023

How to master your intimidating air fryer



We have an air fryer at home: it is a terrifying looking thing.

Luckily, we have an equal division of labour in the kitchen. My wife, Tereza Dobbin, cooks. I open the bottles of wine.

So when I was offered the chance to review Nathan Anthony's Bored of Lunch: The Healthy Air Fryer Book, I handed test duties over to her.

She also decided to write her own review. So here is is:

I’ve had an air fryer for a while but have never embraced it with any enthusiasm. 

Another kitchen gadget that I had to get my head around, when what it does could just as easily be done in the oven. That’s what I thought until I leafed through this cookbook and felt inspired to give it a go.

The appearance of the book is a bit daggy with various fonts and bright colours but it is the content that counts.

Each recipe is well laid out with an introduction and a photo of the finished dish, along with a calorie count.

I first tried the beetroot burgers - cooking half in the air fryer and half in the oven - as it was already on.

To my surprise the two versions were completely different: crispier and tastier from the air fryer in less time than those cooked in the oven.

For this week’s work lunches, I have made the falafels with tahini sauce which have turned out well - though the aubergine on the side looks a bit bland and dry.

Don’t be fooled by the title, there is much more to this book than lunches. It includes chapters on snacks, dinners, “fake aways” and sweets.

All well set out, easy to follow and quick to prepare and cook. Written by a home cook who become an internet sensation during the pandemic.  

I am now a happy convert and look forward to choosing my next healthy lunch box filler.

Bored of Lunch, The Healthy Air Fryer Book by Nathan Anthony. Published May 9 by Penguin/Random House. RRP $39.99.

Record number of airlines now using Sydney Airport



Sydney Airport now handles flights from 50 airlines, the highest number in its 103-year history.

The 50th airline, Vietjet, had its inaugural flight this week from Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietjet is the sixth new airline Sydney Airport has welcomed in the past 12 months. The others are Batik Air Indonesia, Bamboo Airways, Sri Lankan Airlines, Thai AirAsia X and T'way Air.

Vietjet will be offering three return services a week from Ho Chi Minh City a week on its A330-300 fleet.

Sydney Airport now has four airlines flying to Vietnam, a rapidly growing tourist market which attracted more than 317,000 Australian travellers in 2019.

“For the first time in our proud 103-year history, we have 50 airlines flying through Sydney Airport,” said Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert: 

“This is an incredible achievement when you consider air travel was almost non-existent through Covid.

“Attracting airline networks to rebuild capacity to Sydney is key to supporting the recovery of international tourism, business travel, student travel and the broader New South Wales economy.

“We're thrilled to welcome Vietjet to Sydney Airport, as the airline will be providing a further low-cost option to this sought-after and popular destination. "

Vietjet vice president Nguyen Thanh Son said: “Australia plays an important role in our business strategy. Connecting Sydney with Ho Chi Minh City demonstrates Vietjet's strong commitment to provide a new choice for Australians to explore Vietnam and other Asian destinations."

Image: Sydney Airport