The Italian Hotel Championing Zero-Food Miles

Italy is heralded for its fresh and seasonal gastronomy however Garden & Villas Resort on the island of Ischia is taking sustainable cuisine to the next level by serving genuine zero-mile products that tell the history of Ischia direct from their onsite organic garden. 

Tucked inside a lush 3-hectare organic garden on the island of Ischia, aka the green island, Garden & Villas Resort uses vegetables sourced exclusively from its onsite organic garden to create traditional dishes innate to the region on its menus.

Rita Buono, General Manager of Garden & Villas Resort said, “The cuisine distinctive to Ischia is the perfect combination of tradition and nature, and Garden & Villas Resort choses to respect these local traditions. The green island offers honest ingredients that tell the story of the entire area: from land to sea, a rich biodiversity and a delicate balance of flavours, for a real journey through enogastronomy, while respecting the environment.”

The garden is characterised by traditional dry-stone walls, aromatic plants, olive trees, carob trees, strawberry trees and a variety of fruit trees. Vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant are grown without using fertilisers and chemical pesticides. These vegetables form the basis of many a local delicacy such as Coniglio all’Ischitana (Ischian Rabbit Stew), seafood dishes and pizza.

Garden & Villas Resort was specifically designed to be environmentally friendly with 9-villas featuring the classic and warm Mediterranean architecture all surrounded by the charming 3-hectare garden. Strategically located within this green area, the villas provide tranquillity while maintaining a sense of connection to the green landscape for which the island is lauded.

Garden & Villas Resort offers a Long Stay Package including overnight accommodation & breakfast, dinner at “Il Corbezzolo” restaurant with pool views (drinks excluded) and three 50-minute massages per person. Rates start at €260.00* per room for two people. *Subject to availability and conditions apply.

Ischia is a 90-minute ferry ride from Naples departing Calata di Porta di Massa to Ischia Porto and Casamicciola Terme. A quicker option is the ferry in Pozzuoli, which is closer to Ischia, or one of the hydrofoils departing from Molo Beverello in Naples to Ischia, Casamicciola and Forio.

Source: Garden & Villas Resort 


BYO-Ex Valentine's Day Party at QT Hotels & Resorts

Waste not, want not this Valentine’s Day, as QT Hotels & Resorts adds a little spice to offset the sugar. On February 14th, the stars will align and Cupid’s arrow will be perfectly poised and ready to strike as QT bars Australia-wide host a singles mixer with a QT twist: you need to BYO-Ex. 

Maybe you’re still good friends? Maybe they’re the perfect sidekick, or maybe there’s a little flame still burning? Either way, two wrongs could make a night, so bring your ex and ignite a new spark (with someone else) in QT’s award-winning bars. It might have not worked out for the both of you, so why not move on together?

Not on speaking terms with your ex? No problem. Bring along a BFF, your “handbag” or that good old faithful plus one for a night of fun and frivolity.

Experience the love at the Rooftop at QT Melbourne, Santini Bar at QT Perth, Gowings Bar at QT Sydney, Lucky’s Speakeasy at QT Canberra and Stingray Lounge at QT Gold Coast.

If the love gods have been kind to you and you’re currently loved-up, why not turn up the romance and treat your significant other to one of the many QT experiences on offer. From the spa-addict to the discerning diner, sleeping beauties to art connoisseurs, here are Cupid’s picks for lovers of the quirky, playful and fun.

Treat that special someone to a spaQ gift voucher at one of QT’s contemporary day spas, which have been founded on an ethos of customisation and individualism. Or why not practise a little bit of self-love and pamper yourself?

Located at QT Sydney and QT Gold Coast, spaQ offers a full range of beauty therapies including body wraps, exfoliations, facials, massages and couple treatments.

QT Sydney’s adjoining Barber Shop will ensure the men are looking exceptionally sharp. Indulge in sinfully good haircuts, traditional wet shaves and beard shaves, all served with a side of gentlemanly chivalry.

To purchase a gift voucher visit https://www.qthotelsandresorts.com/spaq/

Bubbles, snuggle, spoil and cuddle… cast a love-spell this Valentine’s Day at one of QT’s award-winning restaurants, all of which pride themselves on using the best seasonal produce, high-energy service and an enviable drinks list featuring artisanal drops to mark any occasion.

QT Sydney’s Gowings Bar & Grill will be serving up a $149 per person 3-course set menu, which includes a glass of Perrier-Jouët ‘Grand Brut’ on arrival and a Dark Chocolate Mouselline, Liquid Salted Caramel and Hazelnut Centre for dessert.

Recently claiming a Chef Hat, Pascale Bar & Grill at QT Melbourne will offer an A La Carte menu, accompanied by a premium Champagne menu. The list includes Dom Pérignon, Salon, Louis Rodderer and Krug, and with any bottle purchased, lovers will receive half a dozen Sydney Rock and Pacific Oysters complimentary.

Capitol Bar & Grill at QT Canberra, home to the city’s Best Steak, will be turning up the heat with its award-winning A La Carte menu, accompanied by indulgent handmade Chocolate Truffles and a QT Kiss.

With Italian long recognised as the language of love, QT Perth’s Santini Grill with its Mediterranean flair, is the perfect setting for an $89 two-course, or $129 three-course menu complete with a glass of Prosecco on arrival and a QT Kiss.

Indulge in Bazaar’s full marketplace experience for $99 per person at QT Gold Coast and make it a date night to remember with live acoustic music and a fondue dessert ‘love station’. Next door at Yamagen, the hotel’s signature Japanese restaurant, lovers will be treated to a $99 set menu featuring favourites such as Thinly Sliced Snapper and Miso Black Cod. With live acoustic music, bubbles on arrival and a romantic gift for each guest, it’ll be your best V-Day yet. And in keeping with the romantic theme, FIXX Café will serve up a Valentines-inspired High Tea at $49 per person where you can expect a QT twist on the classic.

Across the ditch, local institution Hippopotamus located in the designer surrounds of QT Wellington will offer guests an Amor Vincit Omnia dessert and Cloudy Bay Pelorus pairing.

Why settle for mere long-stemmed roses when you can indulge in a Valentine’s sleepover with your lover? Guests will enjoy the luxe comfort of a bespoke QT Gel bed, designer bathroom and the luxury of QT experiences at ones doorstep. Awake to a fuss-free breakfast in bed or venture out to explore the neighbouring surrounds.

Sweet or sour, QT promises a night to remember. For more about QT Hotels & Resorts, please visit: https://www.qthotelsandresorts.com/

Source: QT Hotels and Resorts 


Qantas says ‘Bula’ to Fiji with direct flights from Sydney

Qantas is making it easier for customers to holiday in Fiji by launching new direct flights from Sydney, meeting a growing demand from customers wanting a premium travel option to the islands*.

From 31 March 2019, the direct service will operate four times per week to Nadi, the country’s main gateway, with a Boeing 737 aircraft, offering a checked baggage allowance, inflight entertainment and food and drinks all included as part of the fare, and the option to fly or upgrade to Business class.

The flights add to Jetstar’s direct services which also operate four times per week and will see the Qantas Group offer customers more than 75,000 seats on the route annually and the choice to fly to the popular holiday destination six days a week.

Qantas International CEO Alison Webster said the addition of Fiji to the Qantas network provided more choice for the growing number of Australians wanting to holiday on the islands.

“Fiji continues to be an incredibly popular holiday destination for Australian families, couples and adventure and luxury travellers, with a number of new luxury properties having opened up on the islands in recent years,” said Ms Webster.

“We have built flexibility into our network to respond to growing demand where we see it. In this case, it’s a return to Fiji after almost 20 years, a short four-hour hop from Sydney, helping extend the summer for Australians year-round.

“The combination of Qantas and Jetstar also means we can provide more options to a destination which caters to different budgets and tastes, with good interstate connections for passengers travelling from other parts of Australia.”

Qantas will also add its code to Jetstar’s flights between Sydney and Nadi, for travel from 1 February 2019.  Qantas customers travelling on the Jetstar codeshare service will enjoy additional benefits, including the opportunity for Qantas Frequent Flyers to earn points and status credits and a complimentary meal.

Qantas will continue to codeshare on Fiji Airways’ services to Nadi. With Fiji Airways now integrated as a oneworld connect partner, Qantas customers will benefit from more flight options and the opportunity to earn and redeem Qantas Points and Status Credits on Fiji Airways’ services between the two countries. Eligible Qantas Frequent Flyers will also have access to priority check-in desks, priority boarding and lounge access when flying on Qantas codeshare flights operated by Fiji Airways**.

Customers can book Qantas’ new Fiji service at qantas.com or through travel agents. To celebrate the launch, Qantas is offering sale fares starting from $269 one-way, available 21 to 23 January 2019, for travel from 31 March 2019.

Source: Qantas


Victoria steals the sunshine from the Sunshine State with Wotif Aussie Town of the Year awards

Leading online travel site Wotif has revealed the winners of the 2019 Wotif Aussie Town of the Year awards, recognising ten deserving locations across the country that have made a unique contribution to Australian tourism. Looking beyond traditional domestic hotspots and backed by Wotif’s 18-year Australian heritage, the awards aim to support local communities by encouraging Aussies to discover more of their own backyard.

Now in its second year, the Wotif Aussie Town of the Year awards are based on Wotif pricing and demand data and for the first time, traveller reviews, unearthing 2019’s up-and-coming destinations.

Wotif General Manager Daniel Finch said: “After almost two decades of facilitating travel for Australians, Wotif has access to an incredible amount of insight when it comes to what Aussie travellers look for when they travel, informed by traveller-reviews from more than two million locals as well as a depth of demand data.”

“We know from traveller research that Aussies cite discovering more of their backyard as the number one reason for travelling domestically (30 per cent) and with the quintessential road trip the preferred method of travel (nearly 55 per cent travel by car vs 45 per cent flying). The Aussie Town of the Year awards seek to give Aussies a helping hand when planning their next local holiday, as we continue to help great Aussie destinations attract travellers” continued Finch.

After Queensland’s Mackay took home the trophy as last year’s inaugural winner, the Victorian town of Port Fairy has stolen the sunshine from the Sunshine State, crowned this year’s number one destination for Aussie travellers.

Once named the world’s most livable small community, this historic and picturesque fishing village delivers old world charm with a modern twist; known for its buzzing local art scene, food, wine and a year-round calendar of festivals and events. Located on the doorstep of the famed Great Ocean Road, the coastline boasts outdoor family fun and some of Victoria’s best local produce. There’s no better place to soak up the rich history and natural beauty that Australia offers than in Victoria’s Port Fairy!

With Wotif data revealing Port Fairy was one of 2018’s fastest-growing and best-value holiday spots – with year-on-year demand up close to 45% and a predicted average accommodation rate on Wotif at $228 per night –  you’d be crazy to miss the opportunity to visit.

Mayor of Moyne Shire Council, Mick Wolfe said, “We are absolutely thrilled that Port Fairy has received this accolade and that the nation recognises the huge appeal of our town. Although that said, the secret may already be out – one walk around the town right now and you’ll see that it is a place that is adored by tourists and residents alike.

“A trip to Port Fairy offers something for everyone, be it for families, a weekend getaway, a foodie experience, an outdoor adventure, history or shopping experiences – there really is something to be enjoyed no matter what the reason for visiting. Port Fairy also has the added benefit of being ideally located to many other areas and attractions within the Moyne Shire region. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors in 2019 as a result of this award.”

Following Mackay’s win in 2018, Wotif has seen accommodation interest spike by close to 75% in the last twelve months. Daniel Finch said, “Following the success of our inaugural awards and the impact this had on Mackay, we hope to see the humble 3000-person town of Port Fairy swell over summer and beyond as it makes its way onto Aussie bucket lists.”

Wotif 2019 Aussie Town of the Year awards

1. Port Fairy (VIC): Delivering old world charm with a modern twist, Port Fairy sits on the doorstep of the famed Great Ocean Road, boasting a rich history with the chance to spot native whales, seals and dolphins.

2. Albany (WA): As close as you’ll get to a historic European city in WA, Albany is the Western state’s oldest European settlement with a rich history and fantastic family appeal.

3. Port Augusta (SA): The heart and crossroads of Australia, and the gateway to the Flinders Ranges, Port Augusta is located on the peaceful waterways of the Spencer Gulf, famed for breathtaking sunsets that are worth the trip alone.

4. Bendigo (VIC): Get your cultural fix by visiting one of Australia’s biggest regional arts and culture hubs.

5. Forster (NSW): Arguably one of the best whale watching destinations in Australia, Forster stands as an Aussie underdog and best kept secret when it comes to untouched beaches.

6. Cowra (NSW): Experience a little slice of Japan on your very own doorstep. Watch the sea of cherry blossoms flower in Spring all without boarding a plane.

7. Palm Cove (QLD): A tropical paradise nestled between Cairns and Port Douglas, breezy Palm Cove offers the ultimate beachside escape.

8. Scamander (TAS): A classic Tassie holiday shack village, with wide sandy beaches, riverside retreats, nature reserves and fishing hot spots. We’ll say no more.

9. Dubbo (NSW): Well-known for Taronga Western Plains Zoo and some of Australia’s best regional hospitality going ‘round.

10.Warwick (QLD): This isn’t Warwick’s first rodeo. Famously known as the ‘Rose and Rodeo City’, Warwick is the proud home of Australia’s best rodeo riders, and so much more. Yee-ha!

To celebrate the diversity that Australian tourism has to offer, Wotif has also announced the opening of Wotif’s Uniquely Aussie Awards – the people’s choice to uncover the hotspots and travel experiences unique to Australia.

The nationwide search will see Aussies nominate the name and location of their favourite destination, experience or local business across six iconic categories. Whether you’re a sausage roll connoisseur or in search of the Australia’s top swimming spot, Wotif is on the hunt to uncover some of Australia’s best kept local secrets – and those that typify the Aussie road trip.

The most popular nominations will be crowned in the Uniquely Aussie Awards on 20 February 2019, inspiring travellers to explore those towns and businesses that offer best-in-class experiences.

  • Best Main Street: Put Sydney’s Pitt St to shame with a main strip where bakeries, hardware stores and antique realness reign supreme.
  • Best Fish and Chips: From Coolangatta to Cable Beach, we’re a nation girt by seas… and fish and chip stores to match,
  • Best Swimming Spot: Tell us where we should be chasing waterfalls – and other spectacular swimming spots.
  • Best Sausage Roll: The true culinary icon of Australia – but where is Australia’s best sauso roll?
  • Best Roadside Pit Stop: The highlight of your 10-hour journey… including the drop toilet overlooking stunning mountain ranges or a much-needed cinnamon donut stop.
  • Best Regional Chinese Restaurant: Every regional town has one, but where is Australia’s most succulent Chinese meal?

Finch said, “After the enthusiasm and support we received in gifting Chinchilla Australia’s ‘Next Big Thing’, we’re once again throwing it to the nation to find the most uniquely Aussie experiences. An Aussie road trip is made up of more than just the end destination, so we’re on the hunt to uncover some of Australia’s best kept local secrets.

“Regional areas punch above their weight when it comes to the Australian tourism industry – and despite making up almost half (47 per cent) of the nation’s tourism market, they are often underrated as a travel destination. With the launch of our Aussie awards, we’re looking to put a broader range of destinations on the map, create excitement within these communities and drive spending back into these local economies.”

With more Aussies opting to travel locally and domestic travel predicted to grow by 21 per cent over the next 10 years, these Wotif awards seek to give Aussies a helping hand when planning their next local trip.

Source: Wotif


Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival: Wellington’s Annual High Calibre Wine, Food & Entertainment Festival

Wellington’s annual boutique wine festival will be taking place on 9th March 2019 in the Wairarapa; New Zealand’s Pinot Noir capital – Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival.

Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival has been a popular event on the region’s summer calendar for more than a decade. Held on the banks of the Ruamahunga River in the Gladstone wine growing region, the festival is a great place to sample some of the area’s top drops, as well a range of delicious foodie treats featuring regional produce.

There will also be an emphasis on entertainment throughout the day featuring a variety of live music, art exhibitions and static displays ensuring that all tastes are catered for.

The 2019 event marks 13 years of the festival, and event organiser Liz Pollock says the combination of a great atmosphere, stunning location and fabulous local fare is what makes it so special – “Harvest showcases the really unique essence of the local wine making industry and personalities in it. And the location is stunning. It’s terrific to see the pure enjoyment of festival goers dancing and singing their hearts out to great songs among the trees”.

At Harvest, vineyards pair up with regional restaurants to produce a range of outstanding dishes. Festival goers can sample the fare till their heart’s content, and take their pick of wines from not only the larger, better known wineries of the region, but also from some of the area’s smaller, boutique producers. There’s plenty of time to meet the wine makers, and ample space to relax and soak up the live music and fun festival vibe.

The sheltered riverside setting is close to both Masterton and Carterton, which is only 1 hr 15 from Wellington, making it the perfect Wairarapa day out!

What’s more… proof of the region’s commitment to wine is demonstrated through an increase of new wine bars in the area, one of them being The Wine Bank in Martinborough. Situated in an 110 year old former BNZ building, there are self-service Wineemotion machines which contain an incredible variety of 64 vintages, allowing people to taste as they please.

There are also 5 tasting rooms, which are perfect for people in larger groups or intimate gatherings. 3/4 of the wines are local Wairarapa vintages with the remaining 1/4 being from wines around the country. This is most definitely an unforgettable and unique experience to be had by all!