Tahiti sounds (very) nice . . .

Tahiti Tourisme has announced the launch of a dedicated portal for guesthouses across the Islands of Tahiti, providing travelers with not only alternate accommodation options but also the opportunity to completely immerse themselves in Tahitian culture.

The portal provides a comprehensive listing of guesthouses across the Islands, with the ability to search by location and to take a peek inside an array of homes that could be where you lay your head next, plus facilitating direct contact with the property. From stunning multi-family lodges to basic beach bungalows for two, the range of guesthouses creates a wealth of alternate accommodation options.

Already well regarded as a luxury destination, Tahiti’s lesser known guesthouses – or pensions – make for a very affordable holiday and the most perfect embodiment of local hospitality you could ask for. As most guesthouses are usually traditional Polynesian fare in locations that are not yet too well known, the surrounds are often incredibly scenic and staying in this style of accommodation not only opens the door to authentic Tahitian hospitality, but also parts of the islands that travellers may not otherwise venture to.

Staying in a small family-run guesthouse is an opportunity for total immersion in the daily life of a Polynesian family, and in addition to the home-stay-style accommodation, hosts provide the opportunity to share, see, understand, feel and experience life in the islands as if you were a family member returning home. Examples of shared activities include fishing in the lagoon with your hosts; discovering local products and cuisine, or hiking the mountains with the family’s children in search of waterfalls and pools to swim in.

Different styles of guesthouses can be found on almost all of the Islands, and cater to the needs of tourists looking for something other than a resort. Bed and breakfast guesthouses include furnished rooms or bungalows (four rooms at most) that are located adjacent to the family home, and come equipped with private or shared bathrooms.

The overnight stay includes breakfast served in your room or in a common area, which could be the family dining room. Farés or “family residences” are guesthouses that include furnished bungalows (nine units at most), located near the family home and are equipped with private bathrooms and facilities for cooking and relaxing. They have a front desk, a common area reserved to guests and, if desired, they will provide daily housekeeping.

The welcoming and spontaneous warmth of a Polynesian family synonymous with a guesthouse stay is a unique experience that combines tourism in search of authenticity with friendliness, quiet and intimacy, discovery and open space. Staying in a guesthouse is also a way to play a role in safeguarding and protecting local heritage and the environment.

And far from an expensive holiday, you may find yourself budgeting to stay forever! (Well, at least a few more days than you initially planned.)

Source: Tahiti Tourisme


Japan soars up the ranks as an Australian travel favourite

It’s a fact, Australia has a yen for Japan, and the land of the Rising Sun is only getting hotter with the outbound travel market. While waiting for second quarter figures, statistics for the first quarter of 2018 with increases across the board (March increased 19% from 39, 965 in 2017 to 47, 500 in 2018), indicate Japan is on track exceed half a million Australian visitors this year*. (*Source: JNTO Statistics )

The exponential rise in Japan visitation has been noted in all sectors of the travel industry. Increasing from 167, 525 Australian visitors in 2011, to 495, 000 in 2017, Australians now stay an average of 13.2 nights (other markets 9.1 nights), 50% stay over two weeks and Australia sits at number 2 on visitation from international markets, after the USA (excluding Asian markets). In response, air routes have increased, including the launch of All Nippon Airways back into the market in 2015 after a 16 year absence, and a Sydney-Osaka Qantas route in December 2017.

Who’s visiting? In short, everyone. For Australian ski enthusiasts, Japan is highly regarded for it’s ‘Japowder’, however, this niche market is not accounting for the increase in over-all visitation, with the areas of Tokyo, Chiba, Kyoto and Osaka as the top 4 most visited by Australians (the skis area Hokkaido comes in 7th).

However, these early destination adopters may have a role to play in propelling awareness of Japan to other travellers. Harry Sargant, Sales and Marketing Manager of InsideJapan Tours says, “Those original skiers had their interest piqued on the slopes, and now have gravitated to other areas of Japan. Behaviours have changed, instead of a ski vacation and a few days in say, Tokyo, they are doing a Japan trip, and tacking on a few days of skiing. Plus we have the gourmet, nature and culture lovers. In general, people are dispersing, going beyond the bigger hubs and discovering the magic of regional areas”.

In what is often considered an unfamiliar culture, Australians have been relying heavily on word-of-mouth. In regards to inspiration, 56%* said they have used offline sources, being recommendations from family and friends, to collect information for an upcoming trip. (*Source: Consumption Trend Survey for Foreigners Visiting Japan 2017, Japan Tourism Agency).

Japan aims to have 40 million international annual visitors in 3 years, the year of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

FIVE REASONS FOR JAPAN’S RAPID RISE

Air access – there has never been more easier, and cheaper ways to access various points in Japan.

All-Season Attractions – From Cherry blossoms in May to Leaf Peeping n August, the snow of December and idyllic summer days, every season has an allure all it’s own, there is no true off-season.

Culture & Charisma – whether dipping in a toe, or aiming for a completely immersive experience, the charming, intriguing and safe nature of this ancient culture is beguiling. Tour operators are also making the general landscape more navigable and familiar for those who may initially have found the linguistic and lifestyle differences intimidating.

Repeat Visitation – once bitten… completely addicted. As Sargant says, diversity is what entices Aussies time and time again. “You might first discover Japan on a ski trip, but then fall in love with the frenetic pace of Tokyo, and return to check out the temples and shrines of Kyoto, or one of the uplifting pilgrimage hiking trails,” he says. “Once you tick off the classic sights, you soon realise there is so much more to see that a second or third trip to Japan is almost essential.”

Affordability – Not only has the destination taking centre stage, but it has never offered travellers better value, with the Aussie dollar having strengthened 13 per cent against the yen, according to the Expedia Currency Monitor report.

New itinerary launch

For clients keen to head away from the regular touristy areas, see the incredible natural beauty of the country, eat some great regional food, experience ryokans and soak in a hot spring or two, InsideJapan Tours is now launching a Romantic Road self-drive trip, encouraging visitors to accessing more-off-the-beaten path areas.

Starting in Nagano, the trip covers the most scenic 310km of the route in 5 days, allowing multiple pauses and explorations, through Gunma (via Kusatsu Onsen and Minakami with white water rafting April – October) into Tochigi (Lake Chuzenji and Nikko), and finishing in Utsunomiya. From $4182pp https://www.insidejapantours.com/self-guided-japan-holidays/i-rmr/romantic-road/

Source: Inside Japan Tours 


The Mumm Champagne Long Lunch, Thredbo Alpine Resort

And a real highlight of the long weekend in Thredbo?
The G.H. Mumm champagne ‘long lunch’ – where one very long table is placed down the Thredbo Village Square and the most extraordinary lunch was served to 150 people – it’s one lunch that sells out, well before it ‘officially’ goes on sale. They even had another 80 guests inside the restaurant of the Thredbo Alpine Hotel.

In between the social side of the ski season it was just so nice to wander around and get the chair lift up to the Eagle’s Nest cafe and have a hot chocolate and look out to what will, in a week or two’s time be full of snow. The team at Thredbo how old are so laid-back and relaxed and possibly full of some of the coolest ski peeps around.

The Denham, Keller, Schuss Bar and Thredbo Alpine Hotel were thumping. So the highlight: the G.H. Mumm lunch started with crispy chilled Mumm – of course – followed by a perfect winter lunch, created by the team at the Threbo Alpine Hotel.

We started with an extraordinary winter vegetable soup followed by shared platters of roast pork, creamed cauliflower & Baby carrots. Before the most luscious and most tender of lamb was served with winter greens. And the BEST trays of cannolis and tiramisu.

Considering the temperature outside was only just above freezing it was extraordinary to have all of the food arrive piping hot on the long, chilly tables.

A fun and very well-established lunch indeed, gearing everyone up for the start of ski season.

*For details and information about how to book visit the Thredbo website www.http://thredbo.com.au/stay


Ovolo Hotels teams up with Justin North to bring Mediterranean flavours to Darling Harbour

Ovolo Hotels has teamed with renowned Sydney-based chef, Justin North, on their latest project, Mister Percy, a dedicated Mediterranean-style wine bar and kitchen housed in the heritage-inspired designer boutique hotel, Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour. The venue will be a neighbourhood staple for Mediterranean wine varietals, share plates and friendly service with a touch of old-school cheek, slated to open late-July.

Mister Percy moves into an intimate space at the front of this former woolstore, reimagined by renowned interior designers, Luchetti Krelle, to incorporate an eclectic bistro-style aesthetic melding vintage decor with modern taste and sensibility. Comfortable lounge furniture in a mix of plush fabrics, leathers and cane bark will feature beside Venetian- style painted pieces in a palette of greens, red, blues and pinks, inspired by gum trees.

North has worked closely with the Ovolo Hotels team and head chef Luca Guiotto (ex-A Tavola, Catalina) to develop a coastal European menu, in good company with the drinks programme curated by consulting sommelier and author, Chris Morrison. Ovolo Hotel’s also welcomes Group Wine Curator Shun Eto (formerly of QT) to the fold, who has worked beside Morrison on the wine selection and will oversee the list’s ongoing direction and regular updates upon opening. The wine list will focus on Mediterranean-style wines and varietals such as Jamsheed Rousanne from Beechworth and Nick Spencer ‘Dry Red’ Touriga-Shiraz blend from Gundagai, with many available by the glass.

The edited menu will include a selection of pinchos and larger share-style dishes showcasing classic Mediterranean flavours anchored by local Australian produce. Expect a grilled Port Lincoln sardine tart with tomato, black olive and basil; chargrilled Clarence River baby octopus with local chorizo and pickled green chilli or, perhaps, local burrata with prosciutto dressed with pea shoots, fried potato skins and grissini.

Justin North said: “We’re taking our guests on a journey with beautiful wine matched with Mediterranean-style pinchos showcasing the best local ingredients. We’ve drawn on flavours from around the European coastline and it’s not surprising that it’s exactly what we like to eat and drink here.”

The name, Mister Percy, is a tribute to Percy Ewart, a former wool classer who worked at the original woolstore. Ovolo 1888’s General Manager, Amanda Cottome said: “When we came to choosing a name we jumped at the opportunity to pay homage to Percy and the building’s rich history. Percy’s name is engraved into one of the sandstone blocks in the hotel and has always been one of the many stories that can be told about the property.”

Mister Percy aims to be a comfortable meeting place for hotel guests, neighborhood friends and inner west residents to drink, graze and perhaps, spin a yarn, just like Percy.

Source: Ovolo


Ski season at Thredbo kicks off in fine party style.

Okay, it may have been the start of the Australian ski season, but the Queen’s Birthday long weekend is never really renowned for dumpings of snow!

Instead there is always so much going on in each of the ski fields that are gearing up for their seasons ahead including some pretty fabulous walks to the top of the mountains especially on bluebird days.

We ventured down to Thredbo over the weekend and while the snow wasn’t dumping the vibe was certainly thumping with events, gigs, ice sculptures, bobsledding, a Heiniken party, a Tinder (umm, hosted) party 😂😂 and a massive fireworks display – all part of what has become a really good fun weekend.

In between the social side of the ski season it was just so nice to wander around and get the chair lift up to the Eagle’s Nest cafe and have a hot chocolate and look out to what will, in a week or two‘s time be full of snow. The team at Thredbo how old are so laid-back and relaxed and possibly full of some of the coolest ski peeps around.

The Denham, Keller, Schuss Bar and Thredbo Alpine Hotel were thumping. We chose to stay at the Thredbo Alpine apartments – which were perfect as there were six of us and they’re great size – check them out.

So, good luck for the season all you ski bunnies!

Take a look at some of my pics & you’ll get the idea.

*For details and information about how to book visit the Thredbo website www.http://thredbo.com.au/stay