Style set kicks off Aussie ski season with snow chic and champagne

AUSTRALIA’S leadings snow resorts officially kicked off their 2015 winter seasons over the long weekend, with some impressive early season conditions.

Partygoers in NSW’s Thredbo included Kate Waterhouse and Luke Ricketson, Sally Bowrey, fashion blogger Nadia Fairfax and Isabella Manfredi, who all revelled in the weekend’s wintry conditions by hitting the slopes and having “workations” from their music and TV projects.

While large parts of Australia’s southeast shivered through the first day of winter, heavy snow falls and subzero temperatures enticed residents in parts of Tasmania, Victoria and NSW to the ski fields.

While the Queen’s birthday long weekend doesn’t often deliver the icy goods — with “après” (after-skiing) fun often more prevalent than snow frolics — the vibe was positive with reports of 30cm of snow hitting some parts of Australia’s ski fields.

Boasting plenty of music, parties and celebrations, more than 2000 guests visitedThredbo, including a flock of fashion bloggers and snow style-meisters who saw The Preatures play a free gig to a huge crowd on Saturday night.

The Cruiser and Gunbarrel chairlifts in Thredbo kicked into operation on Saturday, the earliest they have operated on opening weekend since 2011. Those not skiing were kept warm in après style at the Rekorderlig “Sounds in the Snow” poolside party with Crooked Colours, Red Wine Roses and The Preatures pumping it out.

Families with children played in Thredbo’s free Snow Play Park and joined the Thredboland animals at the kids opening party where children enjoyed dance classes, face painting, Snowy the Clown and a fire show. Oh, and obligatory fireworks.

Early reports had predicted that a cold front was on the horizon, with temperatures well into the subzeros during the nights before the long weekend as snow-making teams were kept hard at work, turning Thredbo into a new season of skiing.

Diners included fashion bloggers Kate Waterhouse, Sara Donaldson and Nadia Fairfax, who where shooting a snow episode of their Fashion Bloggers TV series. Meanwhile, those needing to unwind after a weekend of skiing, snowboarding and partying were looked after at the pub bistro recovery party in the Thredbo Alpine Hotel.

Thredbo was awarded best ski resort in the 2014 Australian Traveller’s People’s Choice awards while it also holds the mantle as the best Australian and New Zealand Family Ski Resort in the Out & About With Kids 2014 awards and Best Australian Ski Resort in the prestigious Luxury Travel Magazine 2014 Gold List Awards. The place must be doing something right…

Melissa Hoyer attempted to resurrect her ski legs as a guest of Thredbo.

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Qantas and Jessica Hart: Aussie model becomes airline trend consultant

QANTAS continues to ‘style up’ its image. Already, the flying kangaroo has Martin Grant-designed uniforms, passengers purring in Peter Morrissey pyjamas and flyers using Kate Spade amenities kits and Aurora spa products.

Qantas hopes to make sure flyers, who frequent their lounges around Australia, look as respectable, presentable and appropriately dressed as possible.

And now? Qantas has added a ‘trend consultant’ onto their board of ambassadors.

A trend consultant? Yes, the down-to-earth Aussie model Jessica Hart, a former Victoria’s Secret model, Dolly cover girl winner and Vogue cover girl will “connect what’s trending in fashion to what Qantas customers can experience in-flight and on the ground,” according to Qantas.

“Having travelled as much as I have to so many cities, I can honestly say it has inspired my sense of style,” Ms Hart said.

“I love expressing myself through fashion and I believe style evolves as a result of different experiences and travel is a gateway to those experiences.

“I am really excited about partnering with Qantas. Contributing to travel style is something I have always dreamt of so I am excited it’s becoming a reality.

“I already have a number of ideas I can’t wait to share with the Qantas team.”

The model’s arrangement plans to draw on her knowledge of global fashion and lifestyle trends to work on projects benefiting Qantas Frequent Flyers.

The first of these projects will see Qantas and Hart work with leading Australian scarf designers, Bird and Knoll, to nominate a destination that “Feels Like Home” off the back of the recent Qantas advertising campaign.

The destination will be photographed and produced into a limited edition exclusive Bird and Knoll scarf.

Qantas’s Olivia Wirth said the airline is excited to be working with Bird and Knoll and Jessica Hart to ensure Qantas continues to innovate when it comes to travel and style.

“Qantas has a long history of being fashion forward, from our early uniform designs to our current Martin Grant designed outfits, our Kate Spade amenity kits and our award-winning Marc Newson designed Lounges and aircraft interiors,” she said.

“Jessica will bring a fresh eye to some terrific initiatives we are looking at and bring extra style to the Qantas travel experience, starting with the exclusive Bird and Knoll scarfs.”

“While the scarf is the ideal fashion travel accessory, it will also promote the unique beauty of Australia, and as the country’s national carrier, we take great pride in flying the flag for homegrown fashion designers, destinations and talent.”

Jessica, known for her gap-tooth smile and quintessential, beach-girl looks has worked with names like Guess, Triumph, Banana Republic, Portmans, Luma and Esprit and also appeared in MTV’s The City during its first season.

Back then, Jess was dating the then Tamarama band member Nicolas Potts, her long-term boyfriend until 2010.

Since 2011, Jessica has dated Stavros Niarchos III, a Greek billionaire and the pair were spotted at the Tijuana Picnic party in New York just two days ago.

Mr Niarchos, no doubt, has no problems hitching a ride on the odd private jet now and then.

As a runway model Jessica has walked for Sass & Bide, Julien MacDonald, Matthew Williamson, Antonio Berardi, Christopher Kane and Giles Deacon but this trend ambassador gig? Another notch in her top model resume.

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Qantas increases luxury Los Angeles lounge as Ben Lee serenades high flyers

THERE won’t be a pair of thongs, a singlet or short shorts to be seen as Qantas unveils its latest ode to luxe airport lounge life in Los Angeles.

The Aussie airline, which posted a $206 million after tax profit for the first half of 2014-2015, has always had high hopes for its Pacific market, especially at the consciously coined, LAX.

So much so, the airline is investing in one of its biggest destination airports, increasing the capacity threefold to cope with demand from its growing posse of high flyers.

Together with joint owners and Oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and British Airways, the final stage of the Los Angeles Business Lounge refurbishment, will feature a pop-up, acoustic performance by Aussie-born, Los Angeles based Ben Lee.

The grand event in the Woods Bagot designed lounge continues on from the opening of stage one of the lounge in June 2014. It also follows on from the opening of the sleek and tres fancy Qantas First Lounge, designed by Aussie, Marc Newson, in December 2014.

Vanessa Hudson, Qantas Regional General Manager, the Americas will reveal the multi-million dollar lounge refurbishment aimed at customers travelling through Los Angeles.

“The completion of this project represents our significant investment in the US market,” says Ms Hudson.

“We have tripled the space available across both lounges, added more seating and installed a state-of-the-art kitchen. The new kitchen enables us to offer a bigger menu and a greater variety of dining options.

“Customers tell us that being able to enjoy a relaxing and welcoming space with high quality dining options prior to flying is top of their wish list when it comes to creating the ideal lounge experience.’’

Lounge life lovers have an additional 200 seats, bringing the total capacity of the Business Lounge to 600 seats with the floor space having been tripled. There is a dedicated dining area featuring a large communal dining table equipped with USB and power outlets as well as menu by Qantas Chef Neil Perry.

Even the good ole buffet capacity has increased. There will also be a Californian food cart offering tacos and specialty hot dogs, and a cocktail bar with signature cocktails and barista coffee has been added. There will also be Korean, Mexican and Italian food to munch.

As well, there is a communal fireplace and central glass atrium, an additional of seven shower suites; six work stations equipped with Apple iMacs and a dedicated family zone with children’s furniture, toys and games.

Qantas currently has ‘on sale’ economy fares from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles from $1,249 until 18 May. Prices are based on payment at by BPAY. Offer ends 18 May, unless sold out prior. Visit with selected travel dates, days and conditions applying.

Melissa Hoyer flew as a guest of Qantas to Los Angeles

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Qantas returns flying to the Whitsunday's

In a major show of Aussie aviation confidence and in Queensland's tourism mega industry, the Whitsundays welcomed its the first passengers travelling on Qantas’ new Hamilton Island service.

The launch of the service also coincided with the opening of a new luxury resort in the islands, One&Only Hayman Island.

Visitor spending in the region grew by 14 per cent to $706 million last year and Acting Minister for Tourism Tracy Davis said the Whitsundays’ future was looking even brighter thanks to the latest investments in its thriving tourism sector: "Qantas’ decision to commence three return weekly services (in peak time) between Sydney and Hamilton Island will open the skies to more than 10,000 additional visitors a year,” Ms Davis said.

“Both Qantas and resort operator One&Only clearly believe the future’s bright for tourism in Queensland and I certainly agree with them.

“The Queensland Government’s 20-year plan for tourism, Destination Success, outlines the need to deliver quality experiences that delight customers – and that’s exactly what’s happening today in the Whitsundays.

“We have a strong plan for a brighter future and we’re working hard to achieve our goal of doubling annual overnight visitor expenditure to $30 billion by 2020.”

Local Member Jason Costigan said the Whitsundays was experiencing a tourism revival with visitor numbers increasing seven per cent to 687,000 last year.

Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi said Qantas and Queensland shared a close relationship which was strengthened by the plane's arrival.

The combination of the private island in the Great Barrier Reef, the significant investment of, gulp, $80 million made by Mulpha Australia and the One&Only team say they are dedicated to providing guests with amazing travel experiences through their upmarket service.

Ten years have passed since Qantas last flew into the Whitsundays and will fly Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday during peak season (July and September through to January) and bi-weekly services on Wednesday and Sunday off peak.

Qantas dumped its services to Hamilton Island in 2005 when the market dictated it would be best serviced by the airline's (cheaper) subsidiary, Jetstar. 

But with more upmarket resorts having opened, like the new Hayman and Quaila on Hamilton a island, a premium airline product needed to be back on board.

With a 14 per cent rise in tourism in Queensland - to $706million - Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi said the airline is hopeful of bringing something like 10,000 visitors to this region per year.

"And that is certainly not insignificant in terms of leisure tourism," Mr Strambi said.

Mr Strambi and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan were the first people off the Boeing 737-800, ironically named the 'Cook' ( it was Captain Cook who discovered the Whitsunday's passage) when it landed at Hamilton Island yesterday.

Qantas will join both Virgin and Jetstar who will continue flying to the region.

The airline recently flew the cast and crew of top rating TV program Modern Family to the region as part of a two-week filming stint in Australia to promote iconic tourist destinations. 

Mr Strambi said 100million viewers fell in love with the Whitsundays as a result and year round fares begin at $189 one way. 

Melissa Hoyer was a guest if Qantas on the inaugural flight

Original Love Boat captain to romance cruising Australians

Love Boat Captain, actor Gavin MacLeod, shares tips for romance before he arrives in Australia

As the countdown to Valentine’s Day gets underway, one of the best known Captains of Romance, the Love Boat’s Captain Merrill Stubing, is dusting off his famous uniform to bring his unique brand of 'love' Down Under.

In a YouTube video that combines the spirit of the iconic 70s show with sage 21st century advice, Captain Stubing - aka actor Gavin MacLeod - can be seen sporting a rose between his teeth for a romantic selfie as he shares his personal tips to help couples of all ages chart their way through the sea of love. View the video here

The launch of the video coincides with the announcement that the 82-year-old Love Boat Captain will be making a special visit to Australia this week, from February 7-8 to oversee a romantic vow renewal ceremony on a Princess Cruises’ Love Boat, Sun Princess, before setting sail to New Zealand to preside over another ceremony in Auckland on February 12.

Gavin, a veteran actor who just received the Golden Palm Star at The Palm Springs Walk of Stars, has starred with scores of beautiful Hollywood womenduring his career.

But according to Gavin, the most beautiful woman he’s ever come across is his wife Patti:

“She’s so beautiful I married her twice." he says.

While Gavin concedes there are many different views on lovetoday, heoffers advice from someone who’s “been there - and done that” with tips to keep the love alive in 2014 and beyond, including

*the risk that mobile phones present to romance

*the lure of a good dance move to shimmy your way into someone’s heart

*the charm of a man who’s manly enough to embraceChick Lit” 

*the magnetism of a man who can handle a beater to whip up some cookies sprinkled with love.

The show’s stories centred on the ship’s crew, led by 'Captain' with celebrities playing guest roles and Princess Cruises’ passengers cast as extras.

Stars who appeared on the show include Joan Collins, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Michael J Fox, Joan Rivers and The Village People.

Gavin’s visit Down Under will only be his second visit to Australia and New Zealand since the LoveBoat recorded a special two-hour episode in Sydney in 1981.

Love Boat fans can follow news of Gavin’s visit Down Under via Princess Facebook page and on Twitter @princesscruises using the #loveboatdownunder

Gavin’s video can be found