Celebrity Cruises first cruise line to offer legalised same-sex marriages at sea

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity Cruises’ CEO & President, today in Sydney named the cruise line as headline sponsor of the 2018 Australian LGBTI Awards, at the same time revealing Celebrity as the first cruise line in the world to offer legalised same-sex marriages at sea.

Lutoff-Perlo, visiting Sydney for the first time ever this week, said partnering with the 2018 Australian LGBTI Awards was a natural fit for the luxury cruise line which is committed to diversity and inclusion throughout its operations.

“At Celebrity Cruises, we’re committed to opening up the world to everyone, and championing diversity in all its forms. This partnership further cements our commitment to the LGBTI community in Australia, and I’m thrilled to support awards which recognise the incredible efforts of Australians working tirelessly to protect and promote LGBTI rights.”

Lutoff-Perlo also announced Australia’s highest-rated ship, Celebrity Solstice – along with the rest of the line’s 12-strong international fleet – will offer legalised same-sex marriage ceremonies in international waters under Maltese law from today, just in time for Celebrity Solstice’s first Australian sailing when she returns for her sixth local season down under on 20 October 2017.

“Australia is a significant market for Celebrity Cruises, ranking as the third largest source market worldwide. More than 50,000 Australians cruise with us each year – both in Australia and overseas – and we’re thrilled to be the first line to offer legalised same-sex marriage ceremonies, officiated by the Captain, just in time for the new season.”

The motion follows a transformative vote in Malta, where a majority of the Celebrity fleet is registered, which passed the country’s parliament 66-1. The long-awaited referendum opens the door for Celebrity to legally recognize same-sex marriages performed onboard, and have the fleet’s captains officiate the ceremonies.

To learn more about the Celebrity Weddings program and The Wedding Experience, visit www.celebrityweddings.com. For more information about the Australian LGBTI Awards head to www.australianlgbtiawards.com.au, and for Celebrity Cruises, visit www.celebritycruises.com.au/.


I had the fantastic experience of spending the first official night in a brand new spanking hotel in Sydney, as a guest of the Sofitel Darling Harbour.

And hey, who doesn’t like a hotel room?

The much-anticipated Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour opened its doors making it the first new-build, international luxury hotel to open in Sydney’s CBD in more than 15 years.

Centrally located opposite the International Convention Centre, the $500M Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour will play a major role in the ongoing revitalisation of the vibrant Darling Harbour precinct. It also heralds the renaissance of new hotel development in Sydney, with over 40 hotels scheduled to open in the next five years to support the city’s tourism growth.

“It is incredibly exciting to be opening Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour – Sydney’s first new-build internationally branded luxury hotel since the 2000 Olympics,” said Simon McGrath, Chief Operating Officer of AccorHotels Pacific.

The hotel will offer 590 stylish guestrooms including 35 coveted suites, boasting some of the best views in Sydney.  All the hotel’s guest rooms feature the Sofitel MyBed™ and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Darling Harbour and the city. The suites feature an in-bathroom television, double shower heads and luxurious soaking tubs for the ultimate pampering experience.

The Bellerive Suite is the hotel’s pinnacle of accommodation and features a separate living room, dining room and butler’s pantry.

Exclusive to guests staying in the Club Sofitel rooms and suites on levels 28 – 34, the Club Millesime Lounge, located at the very top of the hotel on level 35 will offer breathtaking views over Darling Harbour and the city. Offering a refined environment, Club Millesime Lounge will present an array of personalised services.  These include private check-in, use of the meeting room for more intimate gatherings and access to other special privileges.

The hotel was designed by renowned multi award-winning Sydney architect Richard Francis-Jones from Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp architects. Dreamtime Australia Design and the A+ Design Group all collaborated to create this visually inspiring property which was built by Lend Lease.

On arrival, guests will be greeted by the hotel’s imposing 35-storey glass exterior featuring triangular accents representing sails and a striking red ochre and blue exterior colour palette which pays tribute to the indigenous clans of the Eora nation who lived around Tumbalong – the name given to Darling Harbour.

A stylish porte-cochere leads guests inside the building. The hotel’s public spaces and guestrooms continue to pay tribute to the maritime location and the industries that formerly occupied the site including extensive use of timber representing Sydney’s strong wharf heritage through to the rope and sandstone motifs in the carpets.

While recognising the links to the location’s history, the hotel’s cutting-edge design places sit squarely at the centre of Darling Harbour’s future. Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour will meet sustainability targets as part of a transformed tourism precinct with a 6-star green rating, as well as feature spectacular external lighting to enhance Darling Harbour at night with 6000 LED lights providing Sydney with stunning light displays.

Three sophisticated bars and the stylish signature restaurant, Atelier by Sofitel will anchor the hotel as the place in Sydney to meet for a drink or a memorable dining experience.

With its’ French inspired rotisserie and grill, Atelier by Sofitel on the third floor, is the hotel’s restaurant, serving the very best local seasonal produce combined with the culinary techniques that highlight the origin of Sofitel’s French heritage.  A contemporary deconstructed Bouillabaisse designed by Executive Chef, Matt Coates, and his team will become a signature guest experience.

The Champagne Bar, perfect for a pre-or post-dinner drink, is the largest Champagne bar in Sydney, offering 20 different types of Champagne, from the smaller houses such as Canard-Duchene and Pol Roger to the houses of Louis Roederer and Pommery. There will also be a special Louis Roederer Champagne from the 2009 vintage in collaboration with artist Philippe Starck, representing the mix of innovation and French heritage.

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour will also be the only hotel in Australia to acquire a special edition 3L Jeroboam of Cristal Brut valued at $22,000.  The bottle is encased in 24 carat gold-dipped latticework handcrafted by two master goldsmiths over four days. Esprit Noir lobby bar, located on the ground floor, offers an elegant space to relax and enjoy a cocktail.

Channelling the relaxed sophistication of a Mediterranean beach meets the urban energy of Sydney, Le Rivage Pool Bar on the fourth floor will become one of the city’s highly sought-after outdoor spaces.  It will be emblematic of the hotel’s vibrancy and Darling Harbour’s transformation – an idyllic place to laze the day away while sipping cocktails, swimming in the inviting 20m infinity pool or working out in the SoFit gym, while overlooking the magnificent city skyline.

With nine flexible meeting spaces, including a grand 450-person Magnifique Ballroom, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is also well-positioned to host any style of event, from fashion showings to gala dinners, and large-scale meetings or conferences with state-of-the-art audio visual technology.

Every Sofitel around the world is culturally linked with a city or region in France that shares similar attributes in terms of culture, landscape and design. Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is culturally linked with Marseille, the epitome of vibrant waterside sophistication. From industrial ports to sophisticated harbours, the energy of transformation which runs through Marseille and Sydney’s Darling Harbour make them an appropriate pairing.

Each Sofitel hotel internationally has a number of identifying elements which they adopt to help bring the hotel to life and as the flagship property in Australia, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour will become the new benchmark. From a signature fragrance, to evening candle lighting ceremonies, a welcome drink, to the implementation of Sofitel Wine Days – a month of celebrating French wine and art-de-vivre – Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour will become a destination in its own right.

Sofitel continues to expand its global portfolio with recent openings of Sofitel Baltimore in Paris, Sofitel Foshan, Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara, Sofitel Guiyang Hunter and the latest Sofitel Singapore City Center in Asia. Sofitel Surabaya Majapahit will soon open along with several SO hotels around the world.

To celebrate, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is offering a Grand Opening Package which includes overnight accommodation in a Superior Darling Harbour View* room, buffet breakfast for two at Atelier by Sofitel restaurant, a Champagne degustation served at the Champagne Bar for two people, a selection of Ladurée sweets and late checkout of 3pm.  The Grand Opening Package is priced from $529 and bookings can be made at www.sofitelsydneydarlingharbour.com.au

Source: Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour

Melissa was a guest for 1 night at the hotel

New boutique hotel, Larmont Sydney, draws on luxury from around the globe

Ever felt like you were living out of a suitcase? Then spare a thought for Lancemore Group CEO Julian Clark who spent the past decade visiting 100 of the world’s most luxurious boutique hotels in 20 countries for inspiration.

Taking the best bits from each, he plans to transform the Australian boutique hotel market with his latest project in Potts Point.

How about a mini-bar stocked with Dom Perignon? A choice of luxe spa products to pamper yourself in room? A private balcony for your fur baby to sunbathe in solitude?

Larmont Sydney is Australia’s newest 5 star boutique hotel, set to open its doors on October 9, 2017. The first CBD property for the family-owned company, the hotel seamlessly brings together European luxury with Scandinavian simplicity.

Just as the iconic old Coca-Cola sign in Kings Cross made way for a sparkly new LED billboard, The Larmont marks a pivotal point in the area’s rejuvenation. Heralding the start of a modern age of luxury, the harbourside suburb is undergoing an upgrade as the thriving restaurant and bar scene soars to new heights.

“We selected the site because its location allows you to live amongst Sydney’s most privileged locals and still be a short walk from the CBD. You get the best of both worlds with spectacular city and harbour views,” Clark said.

“We wanted to create a hotel that draws on the best features of hotels around the world to bring together foodies, wellness enthusiasts and design conscious guests alike. Our ethos of true generosity is evidenced by integrated luxury, technology and genuine hospitality.”

Global architecture firm, Hassel Studio worked closely with Clark to curate a memorable guest experience like no other.

“We wanted Larmont Sydney to speak to the Sydney boutique hotel scene yet remain true to the Lancemore ethos that focuses on prioritising the guest’s needs. This is where the idea to take the hotel from Kings Cross into Potts Point with a dash of Darlinghurst was born,” Clark added.

“Our guests have pretty great homes to live in when they’re not travelling, so with every choice we asked ourselves ‘is this better than what I can get at home?’”

The hotel’s generously proportioned 103 rooms and suites across 7 floors are fit for business and leisure travellers alike. With harbour and city views, The Larmont creates a sense of escape and serenity so guests feel the essence of being at home.

Luxury finishes include marble benchtops, leather bed heads, a free standing bath and separate rain shower are combined with must-have technology such as a Samsung 55” Smart TV, Apple TV with Netflix, Bose Sound Touch and USB ports where you need them.

The mini-bar will appeal to the discerning traveller with Dom Perignon and wines rated 93+ by James Halliday. Guests can order food from local restaurants via Deliveroo and UberEats or dine in adjoining restaurant, The Hyde led by Executive Chef Christian Colognesi. Room amenities have also been considered with guests offered a choice of products from Malin + Goetz, Molten Brown or Appelles.

Larmont Sydney is ideal for all types of modern families, with pet-friendly suites offering a private balcony for fur-babies. All guests have access to one of Sydney’s most iconic yoga and pilates studios, Body Mind Life and 24 hour access to Anytime Fitness.

Lancemore Group prides their brand on generosity of spirit, with free ultra-fast Wi-Fi, two free items from the mini-bar (with the rest at retail prices) and happy hour with guests’ first drink and canapés complimentary with any booking.

Source: Larmont Sydney

2017 Gold Award for BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort in Airlie Beach has once again been awarded the top honour in the Whitsunday Tourism Award category “Caravan and Holiday Parks” at the gala industry awards night on Hamilton Island.

Owned by the McKinnon family for 24 years, the family have worked consistently over this time to develop the park and create a nationally recognised holiday resort in Airlie Beach with extensive facilities, a choice of quality accommodation and a friendly environment for holiday makers set amongst 10 hectares of beautiful tropical gardens.

Owner Greg McKinnon said, “2017 has been a really challenging year with the unwelcome arrival of Cyclone Debbie in March. We had all our plans ready for the new mega Waterslide Park but it took a few months longer with the extensive clean-up that was required after the cyclone.

It is fantastic to again receive this award and see the Whitsundays recovering and moving forward. Our tourism industry is stronger and more resilient than ever before.”

Opened in September, the Waterslide Park has added a whole new level of exceptional family entertainment for guests of the resort. Built especially for young families, the mega Waterslide Park includes 13 colourful slides and water-based activities linked by wading pools, bridges and stairways.

The area of the Waterslide Park is equivalent to an Olympic swimming pool and features vibrant slides in a rainbow of red, blue, yellow, orange and green colours. A massive tipping bucket sits at one end of the pool and there are fun smaller features for toddlers in the shape of a frog and octopus. Luxurious sun loungers are positioned for parents to relax nearby while keeping one eye on their water babies.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort aims to be innovative and continually improve facilities and services while maintaining a focus on offering a home-grown holiday that reflects the easy and enjoyable Australian lifestyle.

With the new Waterslide Park, BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort offers the ideal Australian family holiday with so much to do within the resort and located in the most superb tropical waterways in Australia.

Set amongst lush landscaped grounds the resort caters for a variety of budgets and tastes with a wide range of accommodation options from camping and caravanning sites to designer decorated three bedroom condos.

The holiday park is located in Airlie Beach and has easy access to the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach and a vast array of trips, water activities and truly memorable Australian holiday adventures.

Source: Big 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort


Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce hosted dinner for 100 guests at Qantas’ head office in Sydney to celebrate a successful 20 years of partnership between Qantas and Rockpool. Special guests included the man of the moment Mr Neil Perry and Maggie Beer who has been supplying her Maggie Berry Quince Paste to Qantas since 1998.

Qantas also hosted it’s loyal Platinum One Frequent Flyers, Accor representatives (Accor manages the service in Qantas lounges), the Rockpool team, media, some of its food and wine producers – Fishtales, Grosset wines, Botanica, Pepe Saya butter and Fishtales.

Other guests included Collette Dinnigan and husband Bradley Cocks and David Caon – Qantas Industrial designer whose recent work for the airline includes the interior design of the 787 Dreamliner and new Noritake crockery range.

This month, Qantas and Neil Perry celebrate their 20th anniversary as culinary partners – the longest relationship of its kind in aviation industry.

Two decades on, Mr Perry is Qantas’ Creative Director, Food, Service and Beverage. His team of chefs, sommeliers, mixologists and service experts oversee the design of the domestic and international in-flight menu, as well as First and Business Class food and beverages. Since 2015, Qantas Rockpool Sommeliers have selected the airline’s in-flight wine, while Rockpool mixologists create the airline’s lounge cocktails.


“It’s impossible to imagine food and wine on Qantas without Neil’s influence, which shows you the way he’s made it his own over the past two decades,” Mr Joyce. “We say that when you step on a Qantas flight overseas you’re already in Australia – and a Neil Perry meal is part of that experience.” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce

“Twenty years ago, we put tagine on the menu and had to call it Moroccan braised lamb, but now we use terms like baba ganoush and garam masala without thinking twice.

“Listening to customer feedback, engaging with the crew who prepare the menu inflight and being sure to create dishes that use the best seasonal produce across each destination that Qantas flies to, are the three vital components to creating a successful menu each season,” said Neil Perry.

The Rockpool signature steak sandwich with tomato relish is the one menu item that has been a constant on the Qantas’ First Class in-flight menu for the past 20 years.

An attempt to rest it briefly in 2009 was met with protests from customers and the steak sandwich was promptly reinstated to the menu, where it remains a firm favourite today. Qantas serves up more than 600,000 steak sandwiches each year worldwide.

Other popular “can’t-take-off-the-menu” dishes include the chicken schnitzel sandwich (in-flight), the salt and pepper squid with green chilli dipping sauce (First Lounge and Chairmans Lounges) and the Signature Pavlova (First Lounge and Chairmans Lounges). Neil Perry’s signature chicken club sandwich (First Lounge), Zucchini soup (Business Class in-flight) and Garam Masala Fish with noodles (Business and First Class in-flight) are also popular favourites.

To mark the 20-year anniversary, Qantas will re-introduce some of the most popular menu items from the last two decades to both in-flight and lounge menus over the next six months. The most loved dishes of the past 20 years include:

• Stir fried crab omelette with oyster sauce
• Korean style yellowfin tuna tartare with sesame dressing
• Lobster with XO sauce, lo mein noodles, bok choy and sesame seeds
• Grilled salmon with chilli, garlic, cherry tomatoes and squid ink noodles
• Chermoula lamb rack with vegetable tagine, couscous, harissa and coriander yoghurt
• Rockpool Bar & Grill style beef fillet with “mac and cheese” and green beans
• Spice Temple inspired caramel, chocolate and sesame ice cream sandwiches

Source: Qantas