Rooftop pool bar at the Heritage Auckland


Heritage AucklandGuests at Heritage Auckland can now escape to the rooftop Pool Bar for stunning summer sun and views across the harbour. Located adjacent to the hotel’s Health Club, you can relax with a tall exotic cocktail, order lunch poolside and lose yourself in the views. The new Pool Bar is open from 4-7pm on Fridays and 12-6pm on Saturday and Sundays throughout summer (weather permitting).

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Argh! Why can't companies keep their sites up-to-date?


QANTAS adYou’d think at the luxury end of the industry that operators would keep their sites up-to-date, wouldn’t you?   Whilst most do, I often stumble upon examples where they don’t.   QANTAS are currently offering a ‘Seashells Escape’ on their QANTAS Holidays homepage  – a 10-night itinerary discovering the delights of Western Australia whilst staying at deluxe Seashells properties.  The package promises 2 free nights and a free bottle of wine – but beware of the catch.   You have to book by 31st March 2008. Yes… that’s right, you need to have booked it  more than 3 weeks ago.

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Branson develops Makepeace Island at Noosa


Makepeace IslandSir  Richard Branson is  pressing ahead with  the construction of  a luxury Australian island retreat for his Virgin airline staff despite  remaining opposition from environmentalists.   Plans for the $4 million nine-hectare estate at Noosa, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, have already been scaled back so that there won’t be a country club or helipad as originally sought, but concerns remain about the felling of trees required for the development. Branson  bought the heart-shaped  Makepeace Island in the middle of the Noosa River for $2.86 million in May 2003 and now owns it in partnership with Virgin Blue Airlines managing director Brett Godfrey. The idea was to turn it into a Balinese-style retreat for the owners’ families and for use by Virgin staff. In style, it mimics Necker Island, Sir Richard’s private Caribbean island.

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2008 Best of Wine Tourism award winners


WineThe 2008 Best of Wine Tourism award winners are:

Every year, exceptional properties in each member city receive ‘Best of Wine Tourism’ awards across a number of categories – and the national winners go on to compete for the prestigiousinternational prizes in one of eight categories. This is the fifth year of the awards, with over 320properties from five continents competing for the titles.

Further  information about  the awards can be found on

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Top 10 beachside destinations


Bucket and spadeVacations are always more fun when there’s a coastline in view, or at least so say Tripadvisor.   They’ve come up with a list outlining their top 10 favourite beachside destinations:

  1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii  
  3. Cancun, Mexico
  4. Surfer’s Paradise, Australia
  5. Negril, Jamaica
  6. Miami, Florida
  7. Viti Levu, Fiji
  8. Boracay, Philippines
  9. Tenerife, Canary Islands
  10. Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand

What places would be in your top 10 that are not in this list?

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Luxurious 'Platinum' service introduced Down Under on The Ghan


The GhanKnown for making the epic journey from Darwin through to Adelaide, legendary Australian train The Ghan is introducing a ‘platinum’ service in September that aims to be exceptional in luxurious standards. Passengers will be able to rest their heads on deluxe pillows from a menu, stretch out in cabins with fresh flowers that are twice the size of Gold class, witness magnificent views of the Aussie landscape through panoramic windows, access 24-hour room service and will even find complimentary pyjamas in their cabins. Bottled water will be available as well as wonderful cuisine and 4-course meals, and guests will feel that they have all the luxury of a modern boutique hotel on the train.

The Platinum service launches on 10th September 2008.

Sample travel packages in Platinum service with tailor-made luxury holiday company Bridge & Wickers  are from £1,910 per person sharing for a two-night journey including meals and scheduled sight-seeing.

Andrea Wren is a freelance journalist and owner of Luxury Worldwide Tours.

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New levels of luxury for Canterbury's Terrace Downs

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One of New Zealand’s most sought after resorts might soon be Terrace Downs in Canterbury.   Situated just an hour from Christchurch International Airport, the resort is to undergo a multi-million dollar upgrade. New guest activities such as blokarts, archery and a jet boating operation will begin in the next few months, while a luxury day spa and an ice skating rink will open in time for winter holidaymakers.

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Interview with Adam Healey of VibeAgent


Adam Healey  is CEO at VibeAgent, a site which combines user reviews, meta-search, and social networking to help you find the perfect hotel at the best available rate.   He   co-founded VibeAgent with Charles Seilheimer in 2006 on the back of over ten years of international experience in entrepreneurship, software development, management consulting and finance..

What is it that  you do exactly?

We  help travelers figure out where to stay, and then where to book.   We’re focused exclusively on hotels, and today we compare rates and availability from over 30 leading travel web sites for over 120,000 hotels.   We also make hotel recommendations based on a wide variety of hotel and social content.   So our customers can be sure they are staying on the right place, for the best possible price.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I enjoy helping to create the future.   We’re constantly interacting with our users and trying to improve their hotel booking experience.

I enjoy traveling as well – that’s why I co-founded a travel business!   In the last two weeks I’ve been to Bogota, London, Philadelphia, Charlottesville, and New Orleans!   It helps me better understand what our customers want.

What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?

The Colonnade – London

This hotel, from what I understand, used to be a hospital, back in the day, and it still has its original elevator, you know the one that you close shut yourself.   Each room is uniquely appointed with beautiful antique furniture and gorgeous linens, there are plush bathrobes, great bathrooms, a cozy interior staircase, this is just a comfy, charming place.   The hotel also has the best brunch I have ever had, anywhere! And that is saying something!   I mean, the eggs taste as if they just plopped out of the hen.   The cheeses, meats, the made to order food, everything is simply exquisite, and the sun-filled ground floor breakfast room is just such a wonderful place to start the day.

The Boar’s Head Inn – Charlottesville, VA

The hotel is beautifully landscaped, with gorgeous rolling hills and gardens and a lake, with the Blue Ridge mountains in the distance.   The rooms are wonderfully appointed, with lush bedspreads, large balconies, and antique furnishings.   The place has a real classic genteel character, it’s a very charming place.

Hotel Marlowe – Cambridge, MA

This is a plush, stylish boutique hotel in Cambridge.   Soft, colorful, stylish fabrics cover the hotel lobby, which is like walking into PM lounge in Manhattan.   Staff are very attentive and helpful.   Nice coffee in the morning.   Rooms stylishly appointed, very comforable.   Nice size. This is one hip hotel that’s great for business or pleasure.

What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?

I enjoyed dining at the town hall in Stockholm for the Nobel Prize ceremonies in 1992.   It was a black tie event with 800 guests and 400 waiters!   Caribbean music in honor of Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize winner for Literature.   A classy affair.   I also had an audience with the queen of Sweden.   Very nice lady.

Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?

I hang out with the occasional movie star and professional athlete, but I don’t like to brag about it.

What currently ranks highest on your travel wishlist?

Papua New Guinea.   For the diving.   Supposedly some of the best diving in the world.

Thank you, Adam. Here’s to your continued success at VibeAgent.

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The Australia Way


‘Australia‘, a newly-released film,  tells the story of an English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) and a rough-hewn cattle driver (Hugh Jackman), who drive a 1,500 herd of cattle across Northern Australia; and it is putting the country well and truly on the tourist map in a manner not seen since the days of ‘Crocodile Dundee‘. Now a new breathtaking journey called The Australia Way has been launched by Tourism NT, enabling visitors to see the dramatic scenes that inspired the film. Taking a recommended 11 days, the 1,875km route will allow visitors to see the landscapes that provided the breathtaking natural backdrops and sets for the film, as well as meet local stockmen and cattle drovers who are the ‘real’ cast of the movie.    Highlights of the route include  taking a sunset camel ride on Broome’s world famous 22 kilometre Cable Beach, enjoying the radiating colours that bring the Cockburn Range alive on an evening sunset tour  and experiencing  sunset at Ubirr, a sacred Aboriginal rock art site in Kakadu National Park. You can even witness some of the world’s most spectacular sunsets as you cruise the north-west coastline on board a luxury yacht.

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