Saturday, August 22, 2009

Agreement Opens Gates for Trans-Tasman Travel

A new trans-Tasman agreement is set to increase the rewards for New Zealand’s tourism industry.

The agreement, announced by Prime Minister John Key today, will see streamlined processes for border processing of trans-Tasman passengers, making Australian travellers’ experience of arriving in New Zealand faster and easier.

“New Zealand is already the most popular destination for Australian travellers, however there is still much potential,” says Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton.

“We have the benefit of being easy to get to as a domestic destination for Australians, but with the added appeal of an international holiday. The new, quicker border procedures will make it easier and more appealing for Australians to come back more than once, to visit different regions and have different experiences.”

Tourism New Zealand runs the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign in this market, along with the ‘What’s On’ campaign. In the last year, this campaign has had a sustained presence in the market year-round, thanks to a $2.5 million funding boost from Government earlier this year. A new round of advertising is due to start this Sunday, encouraging Australians to come here to experience the luxury, outdoor and adrenalin activities New Zealand has to offer, and to visit specific regions of New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand also ran the ‘Thanks a Million Oz’ campaign in May, tying in with the milestone of the first million Aussie visitors to visit in a calendar year. This competition attracted more than 12,000 entrants.

“As our largest market, Australian visitors are very special to us. These new procedures will help us to further extend a warm welcome to Australians.”

The agreement follows through on a commitment made in March this year by the governments of Australia and New Zealand to ensure that people and goods can move more easily between the two countries.

It will result in improvements in the speed of screening and processing of low-risk passengers. SmartGate technology, which allows self-processing for ePassport holders, will also be introduced for arrivals at Auckland airport by the end of 2009, with Wellington and Christchurch airports following next year.

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Visitors from Australia reached a record high in July, delivering nearly 16,000 more travellers from across the Tasman than the same month last year.

The Australian market has grown by an additional 55,000 visitors in the last 12 months.

Recognising the importance of Australia, Tourism New Zealand committed $9 million of its budget to running a year-round campaign in Australia this year.

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Whale watching in the wonderfully warm Whitsunday waters this winter

Holidaymakers are not the only ones to flock to the wonderfully warm Whitsunday waters during winter.

Whales head north to the calm, sheltered waters off the coast of north Queensland to give birth to their calves and, in the process, become quite a draw-card for holidaymakers.

Kim Lehmann, marketing manager for Sunsail Yacht Charters, based on Hamilton Island in the heart of the Whitsundays, said guests quite often saw whales frolicking in the warm Whitsunday waters between about July and September.

If they were very lucky, they might see the magnificent creatures breaching, which means jumping up and out of the water, arching themselves before crashing back down.

“Guests aboard our yachts have reported to us some wonderful sightings of whales and their calves frolicking in the water,” said Ms Lehmann.

“It truly is an amazing experience to see these massive mammals playing and splashing around. But if you aren’t one of the lucky ones, don’t worry!

“We also have 74 tropical islands to explore - most of them uninhabited - with amazing fringing coral reefs and great bushwalks through pristine forests. And winter is a wonderful time to visit as we have warm, sunny days and clear, star-encrusted nights.

“Getting away to the warm Whitsundays this winter has never looked better with some great deals on charter boat hire and some really low airfares on offer at the moment.”

Flights arrive every day from major cities into Hamilton Island airport in the Whitsundays. And because the Sunsail base is only three minutes away in the air-conditioned courtesy bus, you can be on board and sailing out the harbour within a couple of hours, following your safety briefing. Sunsail can even provision your boat for you

Sunsail's fleet of high-specification luxury yachts and catamarans cater for every kind of sailing experience and holiday, and yachts can be hired with or without a skipper.

Guests' comfort is as important as the safety and performance of the yachts, which are built to Sunsail's exacting standards in conjunction with the world's top yacht designers.

For more information call 1800 803 988 or visit

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Blanket Bay wins the title of "New Zealand's Best Regional Property"

Blanket Bay’s reputation as New Zealand’s ultimate alpine escape and finest luxury lodge continues to be upheld with its win last Friday night, 14 August 2009, at the hotel industry’s prestigious HM Awards.

Spanning Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands the HM Awards are this region’s only independent benchmark for excellence in hospitality management, voted on by a panel of judges consisting of leading travel writers, hoteliers and travel industry professionals.

Philip Jenkins, Blanket Bay’s General Manager, was thrilled to hear the news: “This year we are celebrating 10 year’s of operations. This award illustrates that our long-term commitment to excellence really pays off! Even though Blanket Bay’s location and facilities are second to none in New Zealand, it is our staff that truly defines the luxury Blanket Bay experience.”

“The average tenure of staff at Blanket Bay is 6 years, with several of the key staff, including myself, having been at the property since inception. Consistency of service is what makes the difference, plus an exclusive luxury product that is based upon the principles of sustainable and responsible tourism”, states Philip.

Blanket Bay is consistently featured amongst the world’s best. Along with last Friday night’s HM Award win, Blanket Bay was one of only two resorts in New Zealand to earn a place on the presitgious Forbes Traveler list of the top 400 accommodation properties worldwide for 2008. The highly respected Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report names Blanket Bay amongst the Top 20 International Hideaways, whilst the property was also recently named Conde Nast Traveller’s Gold List Winner for Best Cuisine.

“In these troubled economic times Blanket Bay is defying the trend, with occupancy levels in the past few months above those of last year. The property is attracting a greater percentage of discerning Australian and New Zealand travellers seeking the ultimate alpine escape. We are testament to the fact that value, and not simply price, is the driving force in the luxury travel sector, even in these times ”, comments Philip Jenkins.

About Blanket Bay

Established in 1999, Blanket Bay is an expansive lakeside property on a 65,000 high country farm, combining the sophistication of the world's finest alpine lodges and the unique characteristics of New Zealand. The intimate resort consists of 12 guest rooms including spacious suites, intimate lodge rooms and elegant chalets. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, accommodations offer travellers vast sitting rooms, king-sized beds, stone fireplaces, secluded balconies and spectacular views.

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Touch of Spice News

September Spring Skiing Special -15% Discount Come and enjoy some spectacular Spring Skiing - book a five night winter stay in any Touch of Spice Private Villa and receive 15% discount off your stay.

Father’s Day Island Retreat Package Spoil the most important man in your life this Father’s Day - enjoy 3 nights on your own private island property in the Bay of Islands, helicopter transfers from the mainland and a day’s big game fishing all from just $2750.00 per person

Villa Hop Around The Islands! Why not explore everything New Zealand has to offer and Villa Hop from one Touch of Spice Villa to another? Stay in one Touch of Spice Villa at full price and receive 10% off the next, and 15% off the third as you criss-cross the country!

*terms and conditions apply;direct bookings only

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Bond with Dad at The Langham on Father’s Day

Make Father’s Day a legendary occasion for dad at The Langham as inspired by the world’s favourite secret agent - Mr James Bond.

Whisk your father to Auckland’s leading five-star hotel in a luxury Lexus hybrid limousine, pamper him at Chuan Spa or whet his appetite with a culinary treat designed especially for Sunday 6 September. Some suave options for Father’s Day include:

For your palate only: Indulge your father or grandfather with The Langham’s signature afternoon tea given a special ‘manly’ touch for the day with the following items added to the usual elegant three-tiered cake stand: roast beef rolls with horseradish, steak puffs, sausage rolls, hand cut chips, chocolate tart and filled mini doughnuts. This serving will be further complemented with an array of petite sandwiches and freshly made scones and delicacies and all served with a complimentary bottle of beer and tea or espresso coffee. For those indulging in the Father’s Day afternoon tea it will be $35 per person. Tel: 0800 61 62 61 to make a reservation as they are essential.

Licence to thrill with travel in five-star style: Arrive neither shaken nor stirred but glide to, or from, The Langham in a Lexus hybrid limousine. Available from $40 for a one way trip with the price dependent on pick up location and distance from the hotel. Contact: or tel: 0800 61 62 61 to book.

Live and let dine at SBF Brasserie: Enjoy an extra hearty Sunday brunch on Father’s Day with special menu additions of roast rib of beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, creamed spinach, vegetables and all the trimmings. Fathers dining on the day will also be served a Boddingtons ale. Brunch is served from 11am – 2.30pm and is priced at $45 per person. Children from 4 -12 years of age dine for half price.

Alternatively let your father savour a classic martini for $19 in The Winery as a pre-dinner evening drink to make dad really feel like a Kiwi version of 007! SBF Brasserie is open for a’la carte or buffet dinner from 6pm – 10.30pm.

Never say never again at Chuan Spa: Give your father an experience he won’t forget in a hurry at the sublime Chuan Spa. The especially designed Chuan Father treatment commences with a back exfoliation to help cleanse and replenish the skin leaving it revived and re-energised. Then follows a back, neck and shoulder relaxation massage to release muscular tension and relax the body. The treatment concludes with a purifying facial cleanse and facial massage specifically designed for a man’s complexion.

All gentlemen receiving a Chuan Father package will also receive an exclusive 5ml collector’s edition of Shiseido’s newly released Zen for Men eau de toilette. All those enjoying Chuan Spa treatments will receive complimentary valet parking (subject to availability). The Chuan Father treatment is valid during September 2009 only and is also subject to availability. Gift vouchers are also available for purchase. Chuan Father is priced at $150 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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Tranquil Thailand now boasts world-class marina and cutting edge cats

Sailing in the unspoilt waters of Thailand has never looked so good with the world’s leading sailing holiday company.

Sunsail Yacht Charters has recently moved its Thailand base to the ground-breaking Ao Po Grand Marina, in Phuket.

Sunsail clients have full access to all the facilities of this spectacular, non-tidal marina, which will include restaurants, shops, a five-star hotel, man-made lagoons and a yacht club.

And to celebrate its new ‘home’ in Phuket, Sunsail is offering 10 per cent off* the yacht charter price on all new bookings departing before the end of 2009.

Ao Po Grand Marina is situated at the entrance to the stunning Phang Nga Bay and is just 30 minutes from Phuket airport.

Holidaymakers sailing from Sunsail’s new base in Phuket will also be among the first in the world to sample Sunsail’s new 384 catamaran, recently announced as joining the Thailand fleet.

For more information on the new Ao Po Grand Marina visit:

For more information about Sunsail holidays in Phuket and also Koh Chang and Koh Samui, in Thailand, visit:

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Beach angels, resident DJs, romantic dining and sophisticated private poolside parties are about to hit the island of Samui as Langham Place Samui at Lamai Beach confirms that it is now taking reservations online via the hotel website or Langham’s toll-free hotlines.

The property’s online reservation systems will take bookings for guests arriving from December 1 with the hotel officially open from November 1.

Tel: +66 77960888

Langham Place Samui at Lamai Beach enjoys prime position beachside and comprises of a chic modern village of 77 stunning villas and suites, many featuring personal plunge pools and views over the Gulf of Thailand.

Unique to the property will be the concept of borderless dining at specially-designed retreats throughout the resort, as well as a sea view restaurant and poolside Splash Bar. The resort also features two piers extending out 150 metres ending in a secluded sala or ocean pool. Meanwhile, the main pool also features a cinema screen for poolside blockbusters in the evening.

The resort features beachside individual pool villas for romance as well as suites clustered around cool communal pools for the perfect private pool parties with resident DJs playing the hottest flavours.

Meanwhile, Chuan Spa will be introduced to Samui bringing spa treatments based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) while introducing Thai Traditional Medicine-based treatments.

The intoxication of the senses is just the beginning for the adventurous independent traveller seeking a smart holiday that’s out of the ordinary. The innovative resort will combine all these elements in one cool space divided into The Pantry where some of best conversations take place in the kitchen and Portal – Surf & Play allowing you to connect and have fun while still staying in touch with the real world via technology.

Book a new world of stimulating fun via

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New Zealanders have real and active role in tourist decision-making

New research on tourist decision-making, soon to be released by Lincoln University, has identified the significant role New Zealanders play within tourists’ itinerary planning and daily decision-making.

Research project director Dr Kevin Moore notes that “tourists, like everyone else, seek out and rely upon the advice and recommendations of the people they know, trust or simply encounter” when making many of their decisions.

A report on the research, “Yield-Relevant Tourist Decision-Making”, makes clear that New Zealanders have a “real role” in not only encouraging people to come to New Zealand but also in providing everything from general advice about where to go and what to do, through to making the bookings and even travelling with visitors while they are here.

The research has found that New Zealanders resident overseas, and past visitors to New Zealand, are active in broadly shaping tourists’ itineraries within New Zealand. Once tourists arrive in the country, New Zealanders - especially those whom tourists visit while here – can be highly influential over specific choices and decisions.

Dr Moore says that, in some cases, “New Zealand residents can become the de facto decision-makers for visiting tourists”.

The research particularly highlights the significant role of recent migrants to New Zealand in encouraging friends and family to visit New Zealand and in providing “hands on” help and advice while they are here.

Professor of Tourism Studies David Simmons, director of a research programme, funded through the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, which has been examining tourism yield and which generated this new report, notes the increasing significance of social networking evident in tourism.

Professor Simmons says that Tourism New Zealand’s recently announced “Great Kiwi Invite” initiative appears well placed to “tap into what could be a very effective resource for national promotion”.

The research report on tourist decision-making is due for release in a fortnight.

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Club Med Phuket Welcomes Baby Club

Club Med Phuket is opening a new Baby Club at its Thailand resort making it even more appealing to the family market.

The Baby Club is a brand new facility, including a shaded paddling pool, and opens on 15 December. It is for babies aged between 4 – 23 months and will have 1 GO (staff qualified in childcare) per 4 babies.
The new Baby Club features a tailor made babies program which is adapted to each child ensuring a perfect balance between nutrition, sleep and activities. Parents can also enjoy the likes of baby massages and baby gym with their baby at Baby Club.

The new club has two games rooms, a resting room, meals area and mini kitchen, changing areas, toilets and a paddling pool. It is open 7 days a week from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm. There is an extra charge per day for Baby Club, nappies and baby bottles/milk are not provided.

Club Med Phuket is a great family resort featuring not only the new Baby Club but also a renovated Mini Club for 2-11years including its own pool with a shade sail. 12 to 17-year-olds have their own Kids Club.

Club Med Phuket has a fantastic deal for the month of August with its ‘Kids Stay Free’ offer. Travel is from now until 30 April 2010 and a minimum 8 night consecutive stay is required. Black out dates: 20 Dec – 22 Jan 2010 / 13-19 Feb 2010 / 03-16 April 2010. For full terms and conditions see your travel agent.

8 Night ALL INCLUSIVE package from:

$3,752 per adult $1,225 per child

Including flights, transfers, accommodation, meals, drinks, sports, activities, Kids Clubs and nightly live entertainment.

For further information phone 0800 258 263 or go to

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New Zealand Luxury Motels announce that three new motels have joined their New Zealand Luxury Motel collection, bringing the total number of motels to 22 nationwide.

New Zealand Luxury Motels are a collection of personally selected and inspected premier motels. Many are in locations that may be secondary or tertiary destinations for some visitors.

The majority of motels in the collection hold Qualmark® 4.5 or 5 star ratings. Of the few that don’t hold a Qualmark, an internal New Zealand Luxury Motels grading has been applied.

Dunedin Palms Motel is centrally located near The Octagon, Southern Cross Hotel and Dunedin Casino. The motel opened in January 2009 and is well appointed with double-glazing, sound-proofing and quality heating to keep the chills of Dunedin weather at bay.

Aspen Court Motel is located in New Zealand's home of whale-watching – Kaikoura. Situated within the township each unit has a balcony or courtyard so guests can enjoy the stunning views of the Kaikoura mountains.

Admirality Lodge is superbly located across the road from Buffalo Beach in Whitianga and only 10 minutes walk from the town centre. It is the only Qualmark® five-star self contained and serviced property in the Coromandel.

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New Zealand’s premier ski areas put a touch of spring in their step

Amazing spring ski packages are on offer for budget conscious snow lovers at New Zealand’s premier ski areas, Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt and The Remarkables.

Several packages are available including a family package starting from just $76 per person per day consisting of lift passes and accommodation (based on 2 adults and 2 youth). Other spring packages include adult rates as low as $85 per person per day and, for those who would love to combine skiing and golf in the same holiday, there’s a dream package starting from just $125 per person per day.

Queenstown’s Spring Ski Golf Package offers visitors four nights accommodation for two people at the prestigious Millbrook Resort, both parties also get a one day lift pass at Coronet Peak or The Remarkables and a round of golf at two of the South Island’s best golf courses, both Millbrook and Jack’s Point, all for only $125 per person per day (based on 2 adults sharing).

For those who come purely for the snow, a five-night Queenstown Spring Ski Package offers accommodation at Mercure Resort Queenstown and two adult three-day Progression Packs valid at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables. The package includes full mountain lift pass, rental equipment and a one hour fifty minute group lesson each day, all for only $162 per person per day (based on 2 adults sharing).

For families, the Queenstown Family Spring Treat starts at only $76 per person per day (based on two adults and two youth). This package includes three nights right at the bottom of Coronet Peak at the Coronet Peak Hotel as well as two adult and two youth two day lift passes valid at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.

The Queenstown Spring Ski on a Shoestring package includes five nights at the Coronet Peak Hotel and two adult three-day lift passes valid at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables from only $85 per person per day (based on 2 adults sharing).

At Mt Hutt, visitors can enjoy the Mt Hutt Spring Ski on a Shoestring package with five nights at Breckenridge Lodge and Manor and a three-day Mt Hutt lift pass each from only $91 per person per day (based on 2 adults sharing).

From only $135 per person per day (based on 2 adults sharing), Mt Hutt is also offering a spectacular Spring Ski Golf Package with four nights at Beluga Luxury Lodge, a two-day Mt Hutt lift pass each and a round of golf each at Methven Golf Club.

The packages are on offer for stays between 1 – 30th September 2009, and terms and conditions apply.

For more information on these deals, please visit

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