Arctic travel and Northern Lights specialists, Off the Map Travel, have this week launched a range of new experiences for guests interested in experiencing the best of the Northern Lights, culture, adventure and food of the Arctic region.

Whether dining in a private mobile restaurant; floating under the Northern Lights; glamping in the wilderness with a clear view of the night sky – or the world’s only Snow Sauna, there are plenty of new experiences for those planning an Arctic adventure this winter.

1. Go wild with the Aurora Hideaway dinner:

The Aurora hideaway is a destination dining experience with a difference. The hideaway is a mobile restaurant on skis meaning it can be moved by snowmobile to the most stunning and remote areas of the Swedish Arctic wilderness. Guests can indulge in a candlelit dinner inside the hideaway of locally sourced delicacies cooked on an open fire, and then step out into nature, under the night sky and (conditions permitting) the Northern Lights.

2. Get into the Scandinavian spirit at the world’s most northerly distillery:

The Arctic, with its local herbs, berries and melting glacier water offers the perfect conditions for distilling spirits and guests can experience an immersive tour at the world’s northernmost distillery. Guests will be guided by passionate experts and will see, feel and smell the Arctic ingredients as they experience the art of Arctic distillation, learning about Viking drinking customs and Northern Norwegian drinking habits along the way. Extending the AuroraSpirit distillery with snowshoeing or photography in Lyngenfjord; and dinner, a hot tub and Northern Lights hunting from the distillery’s Arctic setting – and you have a full arctic experience.

3. Immerse yourself through dogsledding and fine dining:

For those looking to combine great food and an Arctic adventure, a new experience in Norway run by a husband and wife team has been launched, which combines their passions for dogsledding and gourmet food in a new immersive luxury Arctic experience. The adventure starts at the home of Johnny Trasti, Trine Lyrek and their Alaskan huskies, a spectacular Eco Lodge nestled in the forest. During the day, guests will not only learn to drive (or mush) their own dogsled team, but will also return to the lodge to enjoy a fine dining experience which blends traditional and modern cuisine with local ingredients.

4. Hunt for the Northern Lights from your remote luxury Aurora wilderness Camp cabin with a clear roof:

This new experience offers a new and exciting way to sleep under the Arctic night sky, with a mobile wilderness camp including cabins complete with a clear roof, allowing you to hunt for the Northern Lights from the comfort of your wilderness bed. Aurora Wilderness Camp in Kilpisjärvi, Finland, includes two mobile sleeping huts which are placed in the best possible Northern Lights spotting locations, and around an Arctic fire, on which you cook your dinner and learn more about local culture and the Northern Lights from your guide. The night is then spent getting back to nature, with the comfort of your glamping cabin to retire back to.

5. Celebrate New Year twice the Scandinavian way in Finland and Sweden:

This once in a lifetime experience offers guests a chance to travel back in time and see in the new year twice once in Finnish and again in Swedish Lapland, and all in a perfect sport to experience the majesty of the Northern Lights. Guests will be treated to champagne from the ice bar, a 3-course gala dinner, fireworks, bonfires and a traditional sauna, all in the Arctic wilderness on the frozen river Kalix. The New Year’s celebrations are enjoyed by locals as well as guests so there will be a chance to mingle, dance and sauna with the local Finnish and Swedish people as well as family, friends and other guests. The time difference of one hour between the countries allows for leisurely enjoyment of both New Years.

6. Take an Arctic dip with Aurora and Arctic floating:

Taking a dip in a frozen lake is not the first experience that comes to mind on a luxury Northern Lights adventure, however many are raving about this quirky new Arctic experience. Off the Map Travel have uncovered two of the best ways to experience the Northern Lights and Arctic scenery where guests wear a head-to-toe high-quality rescue suit, allowing them to comfortably take a dip in the frozen Arctic waters, lie back and relax. Whether in Finland under the night sky hunting the Aurora, or in Sweden whilst taking an adventure on an Arctic icebreaker, this is one to add to your Arctic travel bucket list.

7. Feel the health benefits of the world’s only snow sauna:

Guests can now experience pure rest and relaxation in the world’s first sauna made from snow, at the Arctic Snow Hotel and Glass Igloos in Finland.  This is a truly unique sauna experience where the snow creates an instant blast of steam, making the health benefits for mind and body the equivalent to a steam room. The snow sauna is the latest edition to their suite of amazing snow architecture and their spa offerings, which also includes a traditional Finnish sauna, and jacuzzi under the Northern Lights.

8. Escape modern life through yoga and husky therapy:

Dog lovers looking to experience a mixture of Scandinavian hospitality, relaxation and mindfulness should look no further than this wellness experience. In the welcoming cocoon of a family run farm in Rovaniemi, Finland, guests can refresh both body and mind in spectacular surroundings. This holistic experience combines a variety of yoga sessions with a trained specialist in a custom-built yoga shala on shore of the lake, with either dog sledding or hiking (depending on the season) alongside the family’s eight adorable Siberian huskies.

“The Northern lights are the top of many travel bucket lists and for good reason, experiencing them is humbling and almost spiritual and that’s why we are dedicated to bringing new and excited ways for our guests to enjoy this natural wonder for themselves,” says Jonny Cooper, Aurora travel expert and owner of Off the Map Travel. “The team have pulled together new culinary, therapeutic and high-octane adventure experiences which are both luxurious and distinctive.”

Source: Off The Map Travel

Loquet London Christmas Gift Ideas - ok, ok, it's not that far away!

Loquet London is a British Luxury jewellery concept created by Sheherazade Goldsmith and Laura Bailey that Launched in June 2013.

The gold framed crystal ‘Loquet’ is designed to open and be personalised with collectable charms and birthstones. From a lucky horseshoe, a gold initial, a September sapphire or a diamond studded shooting star, each ‘Loquet’ is a unique and bespoke gift, a love letter coded in charms.

Sheherazade Goldsmith has taken a contemporary approach to the age old idea of a keepsake locket and created Loquet London in collaboration with her friend Laura Bailey.

A true labour of love, Sheherazade and Laura have developed Loquet London alongside a wealth of young creative talent and worked closely with established London jeweller Michael Ventura.

“Every ‘Loquet’ tells a story. Each charm represents an emotion, a special memory – What’s in your world? What’s in your heart?” says Sheherazade Goldsmith.

The bespoke brand is going from strength to strength and is now stocked at over 50 leading retailers across Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East as well as their own e-commerce site. The collection has evolved enormously and now includes Loquet rings, Loquet bracelets earrings.

Source: Loquet London


Qantas has unveiled its latest marketing campaign, celebrating its people and their efforts to bring the world closer using the newest addition to the national carrier’s fleet, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The campaign is part of an ongoing series, profiling the stories of real Qantas people who are involved in the preparation and delivery of Qantas’ Dreamliner; a pilot, an engineer, and cabin crew.

Qantas Chief Customer Officer Olivia Wirth said the campaign celebrates the dawn of a new era led by the Dreamliner and the dedication of its people.

“Customers have more options than ever when it comes to travel, but it’s our people’s dedication and passion for what they do, combined with our desire to innovate, that makes travellers want to fly Qantas,” she said.

“This aircraft opens up new routes around the globe which were previously unreachable, such as our nonstop Perth to London service. While the Dreamliner will bring the world closer, we’re keeping safety, service, and a refined sense of comfort at the forefront of everything we do.

“It was important to feature real Qantas people as they offer an authentic passion and excitement for the arrival of the 787 Dreamliner. The look on their faces when they see the Dreamliner for the first time says it all.”

The campaign profiles a pilot whose curiosity for flying began while his mother worked at the airline in the 1970’s; an engineer’s early passion for mechanics and aviation started on a farm; and a flight attendant who immigrated to Australia at a young age and is passionate about making people feel comfortable and at home.

The campaign will be launched on Sunday 22 October and feature on TV, outdoor, digital and social media channels. Filming took place in regional Queensland, Melbourne, Sydney and the Boeing facility in Seattle, Washington.

Qantas’ first Dreamliner will arrive in Sydney on 20 October and will operate on selected domestic flights before beginning services between Melbourne and Los Angeles from 15 December. Perth to London direct flights take off in March next year.

Source: Qantas


I have been incredibly fortunate to be part of the media posse invited to Seattle for the official unavailing of a new plane. But this isn’t just any old plane – it is the game-changing Boeing Dreamliner.

And while there are airlines already with the 787–9 this is the first time Qantas will add them to its existing fleet. With business, premium economy economy seats there is more space and a lower person to count and a whole lot of other advantages that the airline hope will entice even more flyers to get into ‘Dreamliner’ mode. The flight most people are excited about is the flight direct from Perth to London, which is expected to start flying next year.

The latest addition to the Qantas fleet, the 787-9 Dreamliner features next generation seating in Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class, with more space and a lower passenger count than most of its competitors.

Other Dreamliner features include larger windows to create a greater sense of space, better air quality to help reduce jetlag and ride dampening technology to minimise the effects of turbulence. It is also quieter, more fuel efficient and generates fewer greenhouse emissions than similarly-sized aircraft

At a ceremony at the Boeing factory in Seattle, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the first Dreamliner signaled the start of an exciting new era for the national carrier and for the travelling public.

“Taking delivery of a new type of aircraft is always an important milestone for an airline and the 787 is a game-changer. From the distance it’s able to fly, to the attention to detail we’ve put into the cabin design, it will reshape what people come to expect from international travel.

“The Dreamliner makes routes like Perth to London possible, which will be the first direct air link Australia has ever had with Europe. And it means other potential routes are now on the drawing board as well.

“There are lots of elements that combine to make the Qantas Dreamliner special. The seats, the lighting, the entertainment, personal storage, right through to the special crockery, cutlery and glassware that weighs on average 11 per cent less.

“We’re working with sleep specialists, dieticians and other scientists at the University of Sydney to see how adjustments to our inflight service can improve wellbeing and help people adjust to new timezones,” added Mr Joyce.

The interiors of the aircraft and seating were shaped by Australian industrial designer David Caon who has collaborated with Qantas on cabin upgrades and its lounges in Singapore and Hong Kong.

A total of eight Dreamliners will be delivered to Qantas by the end of 2018, enabling the retirement of five of the airline’s 747s.

Two Dreamliner routes have been announced so far – Melbourne to Los Angles starting in December this year and Perth to London starting in March next year. Additional flights from Brisbane have also been flagged.

The name Great Southern Land was chosen for the first aircraft out of 45,000 suggestions from the travelling public. Each Dreamliner will be named after something that is uniquely Australian, including animals, places and literature.

As part of the aircraft unveiling in Seattle, Australian band, Icehouse, performed its anthemic 1982 song Great Southern Land, the inspiration for which came to singer and songwriter, Iva Davies, as his Qantas flight crossed the country’s red centre.

The Dreamliner is painted in Qantas’ updated livery, first revealed in late 2016 in preparation for new aircraft entering the fleet and the airline’s centenary in 2020. This marks only the fifth time the iconic Flying Kangaroo has been updated, with those updates traditionally coinciding with the introduction of a significant new aircraft type.

The Dreamliner, registered as VH-ZNA, is scheduled to land in Sydney on the morning of 20 October after it performs a flyover of Sydney Harbour, weather and air traffic control permitting.

Source: Qantas

*Melissa is a guest of Qantas on the first Dreamliner delivery trip back to Australia

Qantas Dreamliner: on its way to Australia this week

I am currently in Seattle in the US, with a posse of fellow media peeps, gearing up for the first Dreamliner to fly into Sydney from our national carrier, Qantas.

The plane which is smaller than the current and very popular A380 really ups the ante when it comes to technology. Because of a better air filtration system and the fact it is pressurised internally at 6000 feet as opposed to 8000 feet, the Dreamliner hopes to get us to our destination feeling fresher and not as jetlagged as we once often are. And that can only be a good thing, right?

While it will take a number of years for more and more of the planes to be rolled out, both Alan Joyce, the boss of Qantas, and Gareth Evans the Qantas international chief, gathered at the Boeing factor in Seattle today to talk up their latest flying baby.

With the airline having a continual profit turnaround, there should be eight of the 787 is in service by November, 2018. The route that most people are excited by is the direct flight from Perth to London but in the meantime, Qantas are keeping some of their roots under wraps with perhaps Brisbane-Perth-Paris or maybe a Brisbane to Chicago non-stop on the cards.

And then one so many are waiting on – a possible Sydney to London non-stop route – but there is still a little work to do on that.

Stay tuned and I’ll give you more details as we go along.

*Melissa is a guest of Qantas on the first Dreamliner delivery trip back to Australia