The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa has a makeover

The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa has undergone a six week renovation transforming the Resort restaurant, bar and central facilities into a key destination for 2018.

Joining forces to transform the reimagined destination, The Byron at Byron appointed leading interior designers Luchetti Krelle and one of Australia’s most recognised chefs, Executive Chef Matthew Kemp to take the Resort to new heights.

Lyn Parche, General Manager, The Byron at Byron comments; “The concept of the refurbishment was to personify the well-travelled Australian and to bring a more residential quality to the resort’s hub. This stunning refurbishment and refined kitchen direction, teamed with our uniquely intuitive service will ensure The Byron at Byron remains at the forefront of Resort accommodation in Australia.”

Newly appointed Executive Chef, Matthew Kemp will serve up a crafted menu that will be continuously evolving at The Restaurant. The thoughtful menu will reflect the region, seasons and the climate of Byron Bay. Kemp fuses European Cuisine and Asian flavours in his own individual way.

Matthew Kemp, Executive Chef, The Byron at Byron says; “We will be concentrating on flavours that are beautiful, light, healthy and fragrant to create a cuisine unique to the Resort and Byron Bay. Using the finest local produce we will create an elegant and sophisticated experience focusing on inspiring flavour combinations.”

Highlight features of the restaurant and central facilities include a new statement copper island bar gracing the restaurant whilst servicing the verandah and conference guests, a monumental sandstone reception desk that will greet guests upon entry and a stunningly appointed flagstone breezeway, perfect to while the afternoon away.

The veranda becomes an extension of the living space creating a feeling that is more ‘interior’ than ‘exterior,’ while inviting nature inside. There is a sense of luxury with a considered curation of beautiful Italian furniture and European lighting from SPACE, mixed with antiques, art and curiosities that you would only find eclectically collected during many years of travels.

Emerging artist and finalist of the 2014 and 2015 Archibald, Julian Meagher has been commissioned by Luchetti Krelle to paint a series of contemporary still life paintings featuring Australian natives. The works will be hung along the verandahs of The Byron at Byron together with suspended double-sided landscapes marking the transition from restaurant to courtyard.

The Byron at Byron; for guests who expect the exceptional.

Source: The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa

Legendary actor Bill Murray to perform at Sydney Opera House with classical music trio

The Sydney Opera House has announced that the legendary actor and comedian Bill Murray will make his Concert Hall debut in November, performing with acclaimed German-American cellist Jan Vogler & Friends in a magnificent collision of American greats and European classics.

The show, New Worlds, follows Murray and Vogler’s 2017 Decca release of the same name, which blends classical music (Ravel, Schubert, Saint-Saëns and Bach) with spoken word excerpts from American writers (Twain, Hemingway and Whitman) and classics from the American songbook, including Gershwin, Bernstein and Foster.

The album and show owe their existence to a chance meeting in an airport security line. Murray and Vogler bonded over the unwieldy size of Vogler’s cello and a mutual love of the American greats. The ensemble also features Vogler’s wife, renowned Chinese-American violinist Mira Wang, and Venezuelan-American pianist Vanessa Perez accompanying Murray, as singer and narrator, and Vogler on cello.

Bill Murray describes the collaboration as “the collision of America and Europe,” in part reflected in the backgrounds of each of the four members. “We are from four different continents,” he said. “And when the continents come together, the music moves right across the peninsulas from one to the other. It’s just a short journey from one continent to the other.”

Sydney Opera House Head of Contemporary Performance, Olivia Ansell, says “The collaboration between Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends is timely and thought-provoking, charged with the passion of American visionaries – from Twain to Gershwin and Bernstein, and reimagined in a spirited new performance full of heart, empathy and hope. It is thrilling to present this genre-shifting performance as part of the Contemporary Performance program at Sydney Opera House.”

Over forty years, Murray has forged one of the most independent careers in Hollywood, weaving comedy and depth into some of the most memorable roles in cinema. With his comedic timing, deadpan performance and soulful rasp, he’s covered artists like Bob Dylan (St. Vincent), Roxy Music (Lost in Translation) and even the Star Wars theme (Saturday Night Live). His soulful performance of “The Bare Necessities” as Baloo in The Jungle Book is one of his most memorable.

Vogler’s distinguished career has pushed the boundaries of classical music. He has performed with many of America’s greatest orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra as well as being the youngest player to hold the position of principal cello in the history of the Staatskapelle Dresden.

Wednesday, 7th November @ Riverside Theatre, Perth, WA
Friday, 9th November @ Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, NSW
Saturday, 10th November @ Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, NSW
Wednesday, 14th November @ Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, NZ
Friday, 16th November @ QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday, 17th November @ Plenary at MCEC, Melbourne, VIC

Tickets on sale to the general public Monday 19 February, 9am AEDT

Source: Sydney Opera House

Google Mardi Gras Parade Grant Helps Fund 31 Fab Floats for 40th Anniversary Mardi Gras Parade

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

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

The 2018 parade marks the very special 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. As such, the Google Mardi Gras Parade Grants Program has invested further funds to support a greater number of community and not-for-profit groups and organisations. A total of $80,000 in grants has been divided among 31 applicants from all over Australia to help create extra fabulous floats in celebration of the anniversary.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu said: “The Google Parade Grants Program is designed to provide capacity and access support for community groups, and non-profit organizations, so we can help them spread their message around the world on Parade night.”

“From Selamat Datang, who want to show their Indonesian LGBTQI brothers and sisters that they stand with them in solidarity as the constitutional courts classify homosexuality as a mental disorder, to Trans Sydney Pride, who have a something special planned for President Trump, the recipients of these grants all have a powerful message to share,” said Casu.

KJ Pittl, who leads Google Australia’s Gayglers group of LGBTQ employees and supporters said: “The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the biggest highlights of the year for many Googlers, and we are proud to continue our partnership. We want to assist as many people as possible to get involved with Mardi Gras – the SGLMG Parade Grants Program was a big success last year, and we’re thrilled to be able to help so many community organisations create fabulous floats for this year’s parade.”

Some of the 31 Community Parade Grant recipients include:

Selamat Datang GLBTQI: Selamat Datang was created to show support for LGBTQI people in Indonesia and their struggle for acceptance in Indonesian society. Recently, the national Constitutional Court narrowly rejected a petition to have homosexual acts banned. The backlash from this has been phenomenal. There is now a debate being conducted by the national House of Representatives to introduce a new criminal code that would seek to ban homosexual acts between two consenting adults. Selamat Datang will use their float to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQI community in Indonesia

Trans Sydney Pride: TSP is a Sydney-based social and support group founded by binary transpeople for binary, non-binary and gender queer transpeople. Their vision for their will be to create a Trans Army to fight back against the Trump administration’s blatant disregard for trans people serving in the military.

twenty10: twenty10 provide social support, counselling, housing and mental health support for young LGBTQI people in Sydney. Their Parade entry is themed; ‘Flaming Futures: Be yourself but don’t leave anyone behind!’ and will depict what an evolved future free of discrimination and oppression could look like.

People With Disability Australia: PWDA’s float theme is “Evolution to Inclusion”. Disability rights, similar to LGBTIQ rights have evolved substantially over the last four decades and PWDA aim to celebrate and embrace this with their entry.

Departure Lounge: This float proudly proclaims “Rock Out With Your Croc Out” and will showcase the unique and fabulous LGBTQIA+ community in the Northern Territory. With a large contingent of locals from the NT attending, including many Sista Girls and Brotha Boys from the Tiwi Islands, Daly River and other remote parts of the NT, the float will be led by a giant inflatable Territory crocodile.

FOBGAYS: FOBGAYS is a grassroots community network of Friends and Family of Brown (South Asian) LGBTQI identifying people. Their float will be transformed into a giant colourful wedding party, called a baraat, travelling down Oxford Street in celebration of marriage equality.
In Memory of Carmen Rupe: A grand dame of Mardi Gras, Carmen Rupe is a legendary kiwi icon who called Sydney home for most of her life and who passed away five years ago. This float will celebrate the life of a trailblazer who spent her life championing equality.

Inner City Legal Centre: The LCLC is a non-profit community based legal centre that has been providing support to the LGBTQI community for over 30 years. Their float will see participants dressed in their 70’s finest in celebration of the original 1978 marchers as well as the significant LGBTI law reform that has occurred over the past 40 years.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee: The title of this float is ‘The Handmaid’s (Fairy) Tale’. The float is an homage, with a twist, to the 2017 hit TV series, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and features lesbian handmaids who are happy, gay and free, unlike the imprisoned characters in the show.
Tasmanian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby Group: TGLRG’s float celebrates LGBTQI Tasmanians and the 30th anniversary of the formation of the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, Tasmania’s leading LGBTQI rights group.

The Kirby Institute: The Kirby Institute has worked closely with the LGBTI community towards eradicating HIV and other infectious diseases in Australia and globally. The theme of their float is “Agents of Change” and aims to highlight and celebrate developments in HIV prevention and treatment over the years.

The Mardi Gras Parade is Mardi Gras’ flagship event and takes place along Oxford Street on Saturday 3 March, 2018. The Parade attracts more than 12,000 participants and is the largest LGBTQI parade of its kind in the world.

Source: Mardi Gras

How to visit Kokomo: Fiji’s most glamorous island

Now that we are all back in work mode, it’s time to start thinking and saving for a serious dose of island luxury, courtesy of Australian property developer, Lang Walker.

Simplicity, luxury and exclusivity are first nature on Fiji’s Kokomo Island, a destination where guests get the luxe vibe as soon as they arrive via a private Kokomo chopper from Nadi. Let’s get one thing out of the way, Kokomo is not an inexpensive holiday exercise, but as the owners say, “Kokomo Island embodies his life enthusiasms: living near the water’s edge, waterfront development and enjoying activities on the water.”

And yes, that’s pretty much what you do most of the day if you’re not eating, swimming, nodding off or in full-on vacay mode. Let me tell you, the water surrounding the resort is pretty special as it sits on the edge of the Kadavu Island group, in the Great Astrolabe Reef, the fourth largest in the world.

It was 2013 when Lang Walker got a phone call about a private island for sale. The Australian billionaire and developer—an avid sailor and diver who has spent 40 years adventuring among the picturesque waters of Australasia—was tempted by promises of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

When Mr Walker arrived in Fiji, he discovered a pristine isle that would, four years later, become the spectacular new Kokomo Private Island. After having officially opened just last April, Walker fondly dubbed the resort not after the famous Beach Boys song of the same name, but after his first sailing dinghy.

Appropriately, Kokomo is a PADI five-star dive resort, outfitted for water play of all sorts, from stand-up paddle boarding and outer-reef surfing to deep-sea fishing and laser sailing. The marine life—think billfish, tuna, giant trevally, manta rays and seasonal visits from humpback whales—swim just meters from the shores of Kokomo Island, where you can marvel at their beauty while diving, snorkeling, fishing and kayaking on the island nirvana.

As far as the waters-edge villas are concerned, they are nothing short of spectacular and cater to everyone from couples to larger families. There are in-house chefs who tailor to your every need, along with butlers and nanny services and individual spa treatments available.

There are 21 exclusive bedroom Beachside Villas which offer a private pool and ocean views and are spread sparingly along the Island’s two longest beaches, complete with absolute privacy and direct beach access. Each villa is open planned with a generous master bedroom, walk-in wardrobe and ensuite leading out to a separate outdoor shower. The villas also feature a large lounge area and kitchenette, along with a private deck and infinity pool.

For those with an appreciation of the arts, each villa has an individual, vibrant abstract piece of artwork, painted onsite by renowned Australian artist Chris Kenyon. And for bigger families, there are five Luxury Hilltop residences nestled amidst a rainforest with an infinity pool, complete with some of the best views the island has to offer. Featuring three to six bedrooms, each residence has its own unique floor plan and an expansive open-plan living space with a kitchen, butler’s pantry, laundry and linen store.

If you’re not into water sports, you can climb to the summit of Kokomo Island for sweeping views, explore the outer Great Astrolabe Reef, venture off to the neighbouring island and head to underwater caves and grottos, visit the nearby manta ray cleaning station—where mantas come to get freshened up by wrasse fish—or swim with the rays.

Alternately, you can savour the simple pleasure of a cocktail while experiencing the spectacle of a Fijian sunset on the deck at the Beach Shack. You can also head out to the reef by boat and catch your dinner which can be cooked to order by the Kokomo Private Island chefs or go on a private art tour and view the 200 works commissioned by prominent Australian artist Chris Kenyon, who lived on Kokomo Island for six months while he undertook this giant project.

Kokomo Private Island also caters for children of all ages with their five-star Kids Club—an interactive, fun and engaging space which is completely separate from adult activities—as well as a program designed especially for teenagers. For those with younger children, a personal nanny is also available to care for your infants in the comfort of your private villa.

Kokomo Private Island head-chef Anthony Healy has worked with his culinary team to ensure the island’s cuisine is at one with the Kokomo experience and dining options range from the Beach Shack Restaurant located on the water’s edge, Walker D’Plank tucked within a small cove behind the arrival jetty overlooking the water and Pool Cabana, an all-day casual affair which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Kokomo really has been designed to meet the needs of intergenerational travelers who like serious barefoot luxury, with the all-inclusive daily rate covering meals and beverages, accommodation, a spa treatment and activities starting from just $US1995 a night for up to two guests.

Life on Kokomo Island focuses on ease, indulgence and experience and the island is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH). With over 500 hotels in 80 countries across the globe, SLH carefully selects each one of their properties to celebrate their individuality, quirks and character. Every one of these small, independent hotels has one thing in common: excellence, and excellent is what our short and exquisitely special stay was.

*Melissa Hoyer was a guest of the Walker family on Kokomo Island and flew to Fiji on Virgin Airlines

This article originally appeared on

Chinese New Year: Celebrating The Bally St. Bernard

To celebrate the Lunar New Year Bally presents an exciting capsule for men, inspired by the Year of the Dog. The collection is composed of a series of pieces featuring Bally’s very special Swiss mascot, the St. Bernard.

The quintessential dog of Switzerland is combined with the cutesy, cartoony style of popular Far Eastern toys in an ode to Chinese New Year.
Accessories and small leather goods are available alongside a pair of embossed slip-on sneakers to celebrate this important milestone.

An exclusive selection of pieces to set off the New Year, including leather bags, everyday accessories, and new season ready-to-wear are also available for women.

Source: Bally