Saturday, May 29, 2010


Tel: (254) 20 8055322 / 3008118: Mob: (254) 721 826 466

Fax: (254) 20 3008118 OR

P.O. Box 100723 00100, Nairobi, Kenya.

Skype address:

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Silversea Cruises' Silver Whisper sailed from Rome this week on her first voyage following a successful 14-day dry-dock project in Genoa, where extensive renovations were made to most areas of the ultra-luxury ship.

"The enhancements aboard Silver Whisper represent our ongoing commitment to delivering a luxury travel experience that is unsurpassed," said Amerigo Perasso, Silversea's president and CEO. "We made a significant investment in this renovation to ensure our guests continue to enjoy the very finest comforts and amenities in a totally refreshed and updated shipboard environment."

Echoing the sophisticated contemporary design themes and warm color palettes of Silversea's newest ship, Silver Spirit, some of the highlights of the Silver Whisper makeover include:

New Look for Suites: All carpets, headboards and curtains were completely replaced. The sofas and chairs feature new upholstery. Each suite has a new mattress custom-made exclusively for Silversea. The mattress features an individual spring system with a soft and firm side that can be reversed to suit each guest's preference. There is also a new memory foam pillow top that covers the mattress when configured as a queen-sized bed.

And in the larger suites (Owner's, Grand, Royal and Silver), the veranda furniture was replaced and a new state-of-the-art home audio system added. The Owner's, Grand and Royal Suites are outfitted with Bang & Olufsens' BeoSound 3200 radio and CD player, and the Silver Suites have BeoSound 1, which features a CD and radio integrated into a speaker.

By mid-June, all suites will feature new alarm clocks with iPod docks - as will all ships in the Silversea fleet.

Refreshed Public Areas: La Terrazza, the Panorama Lounge, Reception area, Spa, Card Room and Conference Room received new upholstery, carpeting, curtains and wall treatments. New carpet was laid in the Observation Lounge and new wood flooring in the Spa. The Restaurant's hardwood floor was completely reconditioned and polished and the chairs dressed in new upholstery. An upgraded sound system was added to the Show Lounge, Panorama Lounge and La Terrazza. New carpet was installed in all corridors, landings and staircases.

Upgraded Outdoor Spaces: The jogging track features all-new artificial turf, and the pool area has been outfitted with new deck furniture, plus a new sound and light system for evening entertainment and outdoor shows. The pool itself has been upgraded inside and out with new tiles. A large awning was installed over the outdoor dining section of La Terrazza. And the Pool Grill, sporting a new awning as well, will become The Grill for evening dining featuring the popular new Black Rock cooking concept that debuted aboard Silver Spirit.

In addition to enjoying a fresh reconditioning and polishing of teak decks and woodwork, the ship underwent thorough maintenance on mechanical and propulsion systems.

For more information please contact Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or toll free 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit

Silversea Cruises is recognised as an innovator in the luxury segment, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate vessels, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and the new Silver Spirit, all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the addition of the regal expedition ship Prince Albert II, the company's itineraries encompass all seven continents. Silversea has been named Best Cruise Line by readers of Luxury Travel Magazine Australia for the past six years. For two consecutive years Silversea has been named ‘Best Luxury Cruise Line’ in the TravelWeekly Asia Awards and for nine consecutive years "Number One Small Ship Line” in the Readers' Choice survey conducted by Condé Nast Traveler magazine in the USA. In 2007 Silversea was the only cruise line named in the UK edition of Condé Nast Traveller’s “Top 100 Luxury Travel Experiences”, at the same time topping the Small Cruise Line award for the eighth time. Silversea has been selected as "World's Best Small-Ship Cruise Line” seven times in the Travel + Leisure (USA) readers' poll and was rated Number-One luxury cruise line by high-net-worth consumers in the 2008 Luxury Brand Status Index.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Kai to Pie – Auckland on a Plate opens

Auckland’s extraordinary wealth of people and cultures, its fertile abundance of land, sun and sea will be unveiled, all through the lens of food, in a new exhibition called Kai to Pie: Auckland on a Plate. The exhibition opens Saturday, 12 June at Auckland Museum and is free to all visitors.

Auckland’s story is unique. It’s a story that can be told through the dining tables of the 181 ethnic groups that call New Zealand’s largest city home. Kai to Pie recognises the role food plays in family, belonging and culture.

The exhibition uses striking design elements and interactive technology to bring stories of Auckland to life. Kai to Pie invites visitors to travel through a ‘four course meal’ based around four elements - Fashion, Feast, Fuel and Future.

Enter Fashion to discover a specially built runway showcasing past and present stars of Auckland’s food culture: from the faithful Edmonds Cook Book to one of the city’s first espresso coffee machines.

In Feast visitors can explore fascinating stories of this city’s most extraordinary gatherings, including the 1844 Remuera feast, which boasted a menu of 9000 sharks and 11,000 baskets of potatoes as part of a display of Maori might. Meanwhile the Ball and Banquet of 1854 saw Auckland’s Albert Barracks converted into an elegant London ballroom by settlers celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday and the first sitting of the New Zealand parliament.

Inside Fuel watch a film of Aucklanders through the ages putting in the hard graft to harvest and prepare our city’s food from its fertile soil and bountiful harbours.

The Future section of the exhibition uses interactive touch screens to ask questions about what we eat and why. Discover how New Zealand food facts compare to other countries, and peek inside a digital fridge of the future.

Kai to Pie is accompanied by a full programme of events. This includes the World on a Plate series, which showcases the incredible array of cuisine – from Maori to Mediterranean – available in Auckland. Every Saturday visit the Museum for cooking demonstrations, food tastings and cultural performances from the 181 ethnic groups that call New Zealand’s largest city home.

Keep an eye out for the Trolley Dolly with incredible food to sample and a Family Food Fiesta during the school holidays. There’s also a Coffee Festival, online photo-share and so much more to satisfy your appetite.

What: Kai to Pie: Auckland on a Plate
When: Opens Saturday 12 June
Where: Auckland Museum, Special Exhibitions Hall
Cost: Free admission

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Moutere Inn ranking internationally

Nelson’s Moutere Inn has been ranked by Lonely Planet among the top bars in the world. Their “Great Bars of the World” website ranks the top 1200-odd bars and Moutere Inn currently ranks at 47.

Lonely Planet is known world wide for publishing practical, reliable and no nonsense travel information in its guides and on its website.

The Moutere Inn, which claims to be the oldest pub in New Zealand, was built in 1850 by German immigrant Cordt Bensemann. It has been at the centre of the Moutere Valley for more than 150 years.

The Lonely Planet review says that the pub offers “an amazing array of local beer. There is a very generous beer tasting platter so one can get the feel of the flavours on offer. The Inn has a mixture of people visiting it from local to those that follow the brewery trail that the Marlborough region offers.”

The Moutere Inn’s publican, David Watson says the international recognition came as a surprise.

“Apparently Lonely Planet has about 300 authors roaming the world at any given time and one of their writers has obviously visited the hotel, but unknown to us,” he said. “We bought the hotel just 18 months ago and have worked to take it back to the great building it was more than a century ago.

“We specialise in craft beers and are now attracting an interesting group of local and international patrons who are enjoying the ambience of the place and the fact that three kiwi blokes are working to showcase our local beers and our local wines.

“We are hoping that this might lead to the Inn being included in the travel guide.” David said. “Something like this is always a great boost for the local tourist industry. The Moutere is an interesting area and Lonely Planet really gets you on the map.”

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Earthquake hits Vanuatu, no tsunami threat

Pacific authorities have cancelled a tsunami warning after a shallow earthquake which shook Vanuatu this morning showed no signs of disruption to the ocean.

The earthquake hit just after 4a.m. local time, 300 miles northwest of Port Vila, registering 7.2 on the Richter scale.

No immediate damage was reported but it prompted the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii to issue a tsunami warning for Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia 20 minutes after.

However, the warning was cancelled an hour later, despite the area recording aftershocks registering 6.4 and 5.7-magnitude.

"Sea level readings do not show any tsunami signals," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

"If a tsunami was generated it does not pose a threat to any areas outside the epicentral region. The tsunami warning is now cancelled for all areas covered by this centre."

The Meteorological Office told AAP that authorities would now check settlements on the nation's islands for any damage.

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Cosy up with the classics this winter at Peppers

Escape from the cold and cosy up by the fire with a free gift of Penguin classics at Peppers Resorts and Retreats this winter.

From Rotorua to Tekapo, Peppers is offering the ultimate winter indulgence for book lovers. Guests staying at any of the four premium resorts will be treated to a set of six popular classics including some of the most talked about titles of all time, from Wuthering Heights to The Great Gatsby, for both him and her.

The Winter Classics package includes two nights luxury accommodation, full breakfast each morning, a delicious afternoon tea, a set of six Popular Penguin classics and a steamy hot chocolate or glass of red to relax and unwind by the fire.

Indulge your inner bookworm this winter at select Peppers Retreats and Resorts along with superb food and wine and impeccable service while enjoying total mind and soul relaxation in sumptuous surrounds.

Packages are available from the end of May through to August. For more information or to book your Peppers Winter Classics package, please visit or phone 0800 275 373.

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Cairns Festival 2010 is once again shaping up to be Tropical North Queensland’s biggest and best party of the year. The free and ticketed program of events spanning music, art and entertainment will roll out over 17 action-packed days between Friday 20 August and Sunday 5 September.

The highlights of this year’s program are many and varied and include Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, Grand Parade and Fireworks, 2010 Esplanart public art on the waterfront, Tropical Pride Festival, Taste of Palm Cove, live theatre, comedy, art exhibitions, music events and more.

To find out more visit the website

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Weekend Specials are Back

For those in need of a refreshing mid-winter getaway, Crowne Plaza Auckland is offering an impressive deal with Friday and Saturday night rates from only $168 + GST per night.

The Weekend Special is for up to two people in a Superior Room for the night and is inclusive of full buffet breakfast in the hotel’s Aria Restaurant.

Crowne Plaza’s Business Development Director Terry Holt says “Crowne Plaza offers a superior hotel experience and add to the offering a fantastic deal like this and you've got a great weekend away."

Crowne Plaza Auckland is renowned for friendly, professional service and is located in the heart of Auckland City and situated above the Atrium on Elliott shopping complex.

To book on-line go to or call (NZ) 0800-154-181. The Weekend Special package is available until the end of July 2010.

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KLM trials a la carte dining in economy

KLM’s economy passengers on selected intercontinental flights can opt for paid-for a la carte meals instead of the usual free meal service, with choices including Italian and Japanese dishes.

The pilot project is running till the end of August on routes from Amsterdam to Bangkok and Taipei, Dubai, Cape Town, Singapore and Denpasar. Customers can choose from dishes including “a healthy Japanese meal; an Indonesian rice table; a Bella Italia meal, Italian dishes, and a Sustainable dining meal of sustainable, organic chicken, vegetables and cheese”.

Dishes cost €15 each, and can be ordered and paid for online when checking in between 30 and 24 hours prior to departure.

Those not wishing to opt for an a la carte meal will continue to receive the usual free meal service. Said Erik Varwijk, Executive Vice President of KLM Commercial:

“The wishes and choices of our customers are key. We will be testing them during the pilot project. Our aim is to align our products even more closely to what different customers want.”

For more information visit

Report by Mark Caswell

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Winter Festival ranks in Top 10 festivals

Queenstown’s Winter Festival has been ranked as one of the world’s Top 10 must-see festivals by a major Australian website.

The festival ranks higher than the likes of New Orleans’ Jazz Festival, Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, Oktoberfest, and the Sydney and Melbourne festivals.

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Winter Festival...and all that jazz

Queenstown’s Winter Festival hits a high note this year with a stellar musical line-up at the ever popular Lindauer Jazz Night on Saturday 3 July.

Festival Director Simon Green says his team has put together a fabulous mix of acts with something to excite everyone, from jazz purists to lovers of live music.

“Take a gondola ride to the spectacular setting of the Skyline’s mountain-top complex, add in a superb mix of performers and you have the recipe for an unforgettable evening. Jazz Night is always a Festival highlight and is particularly popular with our locals so people should get in quick. Once this night starts it doesn’t stop so dancing shoes are a must!”

New Zealand's own Alicia Keys, songstress LA Mitchell, will headline upstairs in the Jazz Lounge, melding soul and jazz with her evocative vocals and cool Rhodes piano playing. Since catching the attention of the New Zealand music scene she has firmly established herself not only through her solo career and two album releases but also as a member of rock band Dukes and Dave Dobbyn’s touring band. She has opened for Stevie Wonder at his New Zealand shows, for Dave Dobbyn in Europe, toured nationwide as part of Fly My Pretties and collaborates with the Sunshine Sound System and Oakley Grenell.

Also performing upstairs is Coast, a new young dub/funk/roots trio with a splash of jazz, who will dazzle the crowd with their acoustic brilliance. The group harks from the East Coast but moved to Auckland to join forces with Loop’s Mikee Tucker (TrinityRoots, The Black Seeds, Fly My Pretties). Coast took out top place in the 2008 Eastern Bay Battle of the Bands and the 2009 Auckland Rock to the Top competition.

Vanessa Kelly’s seductive jazzy blues vocals will get the party started downstairs. Ms Kelly, the recipient of a New Zealand Music Award in 2000 for New Zealand’s Most Promising Female Vocalist, has performed for Robbie Williams, sung alongside New Zealand singer/songwriter Brooke Fraser, been part of the first New Zealand group to achieve three consecutive No 1 singles in New Zealand, and appeared in Shortland Street and Xena: Warrior Princess.

The dance floor hots up with Eru Dangerspeil’s raw energy and unique live performance of bottom-heavy funk and psychedelic rhythm and blues. Led by former TrinityRoots' drummer and master percussionist Riki Gooch, Eru Dangerspiel comprises some of New Zealand's finest musicians - Mara TK (Electric Wire Hustle, Fly My Pretties) intertwines with MC Future and the smooth grooves of Fat Freddy’s Drop keyboardist Iain Gordon.

Sola Rosa follows with a smokin’ hot blend of dub, hip hop, lounge and jazz guaranteed to keep crowds glued to the dance floor. The band, led by Andrew Spraggon, is well known for its calibre of talent, tapping into the skills of internationally renowned DJ Spikey Tee and counting members of Dimmer, Fat Freddy's Drop, Goldenhorse, Pluto, Che Fu, King Kapisi and Sommerset among its ranks over the years.

The Lindauer Jazz Night will be held from 7.30pm at the Skyline complex and tickets cost $89 per person (including gondola) or $111 including supper.

Festival tickets can be purchased from TicketDirect online, by phone 0800 224 224 (03 450 9110), in person at the Queenstown Events Centre or Queenstown i-Site (corner of Shotover and Camp streets), or via the Festival website

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Sofitel Melbourne On Collins is once again supporting one of the city’s signature events, the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series, showcasing a diverse selection of European Masters along with an exhibition of the work of film maker and artist, Tim Burton.

The National Gallery of Victoria will exhibit one of the world’s finest collections of 19th and 20th century art European Masters: Städel Museum, 19th-20th Century with over 100 works by 70 artists from one of Germany’s oldest and most respected museums, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. European Masters will provide an unprecedented opportunity to see a spectacular group of masterpieces spanning the dynamic and transformative years of the 19th and 20th century, from the beauty and immediacy of French Impressionism to the raw power of German Expressionism, rarely seen outside of Europe.

At the same time, the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) returns to the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series in 2010 with an Australian exclusive exhibition direct from The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York with a showcase of Tim Burton’s extraordinary works. The exhibition will explore Burton’s career as director, concept artist illustrator and photographer, through hundreds of arts works illuminating the creative vision behind Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Sweeney Todd.

Both exhibitions are exclusive to Melbourne and Sofitel Melbourne On Collins is offering accommodation and dining packages which include tickets to either exhibition.

Accommodation Package

From $349 includes –
- Overnight accommodation in a Classic King Room
- 2 x tickets to either exhibition
- Valet parking
Dining Package
Lunch Offer - $57pp including 2 courses + a glass of wine and ticket to either exhibition (valid Monday – Friday only).
Dinner Offer - $87pp including 2 courses + a glass of wine and ticket to either exhibition (valid 7 days).

As an extra service, Sofitel guests will be able to pre-purchase their Melbourne Winter Masterpieces tickets at the hotel’s Concierge desk. Ticket prices are $23pp for European Masters and $19pp for Tim Burton or purchase both for a special price of $33.60pp.


This year’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces includes European Masters: Städel Museum, 19th-20th Century at the NGV from 19 June until 10 October, and Tim Burton: The Exhibition at the Australian Centre for Moving Image from 24 June until 10 October, 2010.

Sofitel bookings:
Accommodation packages call 03 9653 0000 or visit

Sofitel: re-inventing French elegance in luxury hotels
Sofitel creates unique luxury hotels in the world’s most attractive destinations, by the artful blending of its French origins with the very best of local cultures. Sofitel forges a privileged bond between its staff of devoted service professionals and its cosmopolitan guests who expect and appreciate beauty, quality and excellence. Sofitel offers the best of French elegance, from food and wine rituals to bedding, design and personal care products. Hotels where life can be savoured, shared with others, lived in harmony with oneself; transforming every stay into a unique and unforgettable experience.

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Mobile phones to be used as room keys for Holiday Inn

Intercontinental Hotels will soon begin trailing the usage of smartphones in place of the traditional room key at two of its North American Holiday Inn properties, claims a new report.

Holiday Inn Chicago O' Hare Rosemont and the Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown Convention Center will in June launch a trial run of the technology which allows Blackberries, iPhones, Android mobiles and other smartphones to avoid the front desk and go directly to their rooms.

Trial participants will need to download a specialised App for their mobile phone, which will call up their booking confirmation details in order to synchronise with a sensor on the door lock.

For the trial, which will last at least 60 days, and possibly up to Christmas if successful, the two Holiday Inn properties will add the new sensor locks to 20% of their rooms.

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Best Western and team up, the world’s leading hotel meta-search engine and Best Western International, the world’s largest hotel chain® have today jointly announced their new partnership. This partnership allows distribution of Best Western hotels via

With the systems integration finalized on, travellers can now search and compare live hotel rates from over 4,000 independently owned and operated Best Western hotels worldwide. Travellers choosing to make their hotel reservation direct with Best Western are then redirected to where they will be able to complete their hotel booking without additional fees or mark-ups.

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New Houston Air Connection a Winner

New Zealand will soon be a step closer for thousands of Americans with the announcement today of a new direct daily Continental Airlines flight from Houston to Auckland.

The new service, from one of America’s biggest air hubs, will start in November 2011. The new route will open up the East and central US, and connecting flights into Europe.

As well as a direct connection to Houston, the new route will open up opportunities for the European market with connecting flights through Houston out of London, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.

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“The quicker customers book the cheaper their seats will be – at least one seat on every bus costs a dollar,” chuckles Mr Nuttall,'s CEO.

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Vivid Sydney transforms Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House into the world’s largest harbour‐side artwork

DATE/TIME: Thursday, 27 May 2010 at 6pm, Australian EST

Time: 11pm Australian EST (1am NZ Time)

Available via Sky NZ

WHAT: It will be ‘Lights On’ for the annual Vivid Sydney festival of light, music and ideas when the Sydney Opera House’s majestic sails are illuminated, transforming the iconic building into the world’s largest harbour‐side artwork.

Vivid Sydney is the largest festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and celebrates Sydney as the creative hub of the Asia Pacific with free family events; large scale light installations and projections; music performances and collaborations; creative ideas, discussion and debate.

Vivid Sydney runs from 27 May to 21 June. Once again Sydney Opera House is the focal point of Vivid Sydney with ‘Lighting the Sails’ and VIVID Live, a music festival with a difference co‐curated by international rock legend Lou Reed and
acclaimed artist and musician Laurie Anderson from 27 May to 11 June. The Sydney Opera House sails will be illuminated throughout Vivid Sydney until the 20 June.
Sydney is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is the gateway to Australia. Vivid Sydney festival showcases the diversity of the city’s creative industries and the range of truly exceptional holiday experiences on offer.

To find out more about the full Vivid Sydney program, visit

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SOFITel paris le faubourg UNVEILS ITS NEW COLLECTION OF suites AND couture APARTMENT

At the heart of the celebrated Faubourg Saint-Honoré amidst the most emblematic labels from the world of Haute Couture, the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg has always had a vibrant feel for fashion. The hotel has unveiled its collection of suites, the Couture Apartment and the full magnificent refurbishing of its corridors - all the work of Didier Gomez. Considering that every creative act must sit naturally within an environment, the famous designer has imagined creations that pay tribute to fashion. Hence the signed photographs of the top names in fashion over the past decades that dot the halls and corridors walked by guests from the lobby to their suite.

The Suites
The spirit of the 21 suites recreates the harmony and elegance of the salons in the leading couture houses through the choice of materials, furniture and colors. Ivory, gray and black form the dominant tones that enhance gold, crystal and amethyst.

The Apartment
On the hotel’s top floor, the Couture Apartment recreates the harmony and tranquility of a luxurious Parisian interior. It boasts a floor area of 1,075 sq. ft. and is fitted with digital controls to access the different home automation functionalities.

One third of the guestrooms at the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg are now suites. A new chic and charm offensive which meets the emerging demand of today’s travelers, who demand comfort, beauty of material and masterly use of space. Each detail works to provide a moment of life steeped in refinement.

Discover Sofitel on

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When you lose control and you got no soul, It's tragedy

Bee Gees star, Robin Gibb is still 'stayin' alive' at age 60 - the eccentric singer allegedly became so enraged when asked to submit to extra security checks at Heathrow that he refused to fly.

Gibb, who was supposed to fly from Heathrow to Los Angeles, was sitting with his fellow passengers in the British Airways first-class lounge when the incident occurred.

He was asked at random to undergo further checks and be patted down by staff but The Sun newspaper claimed he quickly lost his temper.

An anonymous witness told the paper: "He went absolutely crazy and was swearing his head off at the check-in team.

"It wasn't their fault - people are selected at random by the computer for extra checks. But he wasn't having any of it.

"He was told by security to calm down or he would not be able to fly. He told them to eff off.

"When it became clear to him he could not board without the extra checks he stormed out.
"He was spitting feathers and everyone in the lounge was horrified."

After the incident, Gibb is believed to have transferred his £5,000 first class ticket to a later date.
A BA spokeswoman told the paper: "A passenger who was due to fly to LA voluntarily chose not to travel because they did not want to be subjected to additional security searches."

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South Island to Showcase its Great Wines

Christchurch Ι South Island, the newest member to the prestigious Great Wine Capitals Global Network, is thrilled to be hosting this year’s AGM and international wine conference – Wine Discovery New Zealand 2010 – from 31 October to 4 November.

Christchurch Ι South Island is a central hub uniting the five South Island wine regions of Marlborough, Nelson/Tasman, Waipara Valley, Canterbury and Central Otago for a common goal.

The conference will incorporate stimulating and relevant programmes for local and international wine business, research and media participants, and will include the Network’s icon AGM events such as an international wine tasting evening.

This won’t be your usual conference, held in the one spot – but a cluster of events where key industry players from overseas markets will be invited to explore the five South Island wine regions that make up our membership and discover for themselves the secrets behind our premium wines. Pre and post event wine tours will also include venturing to some North Island wine regions.

For further information and to register for Wine Discovery New Zealand 2010 visit:

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Top ten travel tips for 2010 FIFA World Cup: Visa

Visa has released a Top 10 list of useful payment card tips to ensure that travellers get the most out of their experience in South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Visa has also launched the Visa Visitor Guide: South Africa 2010 which offers a variety of information on must see heritage sites, museums, and safari parks as well as shopping and dining insights from local experts.

The Visa Visitor Guide also includes an updated tournament schedule and a list of the 32 qualified teams.

"We want to make sure people attending the 2010 FIFA World Cup have a memorable experience, so for fans traveling to South Africa we created this easy reference travel guide to help answer questions about the area and help them prepare for their trip," said Antonio Lucio, Chief Marketing Officer of Visa Inc.

"To ensure any trip is a success, travelers must prepare in advance, especially when it comes to their money. When travelling internationally, it's important to know what payment cards are accepted, the best way to exchange your money for local currency and what to do in an emergency."

Visa has reported the top10 payment card and money tips travelers will need to know before they go to South Africa.

1. Travellers will need a Visa card or cash to pay for items at all FIFA World Cup venues. To get a Visa credit, debit or prepaid card visit your bank branch or visit

2. Notify your bank that you will be travelling and that you will be using your Visa credit or debit card abroad to avoid any issues when making transactions

3. If you lose your card, report it to your bank immediately. Have Visa's Global Customer Care Assistance toll-free hotline number in your mobile for such emergencies: 0-800-990-475

4. Take advantage of special merchant offers in South Africa - for details read the Visa Visitor Guide: South Africa 2010 at

5. While travelling, set up an automatic bill pay for your credit card and make sure you have sufficient funds in your debit account

6. Keep records of your account numbers and PINs in a safe and secure place

7. Contact your issuing bank about travel-related benefits for Visa Card holders

8. Look for the Visa or PLUS logo on ATMs or a point-of-sale to ensure international payment cards are accepted. To find your nearest ATM visit

9. Always carry a small amount of Rand and a Visa payment card whilst travelling throughout South Africa

10. Careful review your payment card statements and contact your bank if you see any suspicious or incorrect charges.

Visa is a valued FIFA partner and the preferred card of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

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5* Kids Club

Launched this week is Navigate’s latest offering within their suggested itinerary suggestions... 5* Kids Club.

You’ll never hear: ‘There’s nothing to do’ when you choose these Navigate Oceania lodges and resorts. Up and down the country there are fantastic opportunities for young ones and their folks to experience New Zealand’s unique wilderness and wildlife, its superb beaches and water sports.

You might find surfing lessons, ocean kayaking or bubbling mud pools, hot springs and a dinosaur hunt. There are fabulous cruises on rivers or harbours, sand duning or horse trekking. For quieter days there might be a Galaxy Tour followed by fish and chips on the beach, cooking lessons, astonishing inter-active museums, fishing from a local wharf or strawberry picking. Whether you stay in the city or in the countryside there’s always something to do for the younger ones. Actually, it’s probably what the grown ups wanted to do anyway.

The Navigate Collection of itineraries lists suggested itineraries themed around the most inspired destinations in New Zealand and the Pacific. Navigate Collection itineraries include Food & Wine, Chic, Spa Destinations, Luxury Golf, Eco Wilderness Adventures, Art & Architecture, Family Fun, Best Bed & Breakfast Discoveries, and Trout Fishing Adventures. New for 2010/11 Adventure itinerary, which is not for the faint hearted, and by demand our 5* Kids programme.

Each of these unique experiences offers authentic adventure, challenging sport or matchless escapes in inspired destinations with world-class luxury lodges, resorts, boutique hotels and private islands. This resource is to assist luxury-market travellers to match their interests and passions with superbly planned and themed itineraries.

For more information and high resolution graphics contact Karine Thomas, Director on ++64 9 307 3633, or visit our web site for more suggested itinerary ideas at

Just four of our suggested 5* Kids Club offerings – more at

World famous Maori guides lead you to see Tane Mahuta, the gigantic Kauri God of the Forest, and perhaps find a flightless Kiwi bird . The Kauri Museum gives kids a personal workbook on arrival. Explore our galaxy with New Zealand’s largest private telescope at Astronomy Adventures, followed by fish and chips at Funky Fish Café. Professional surfing classes for teenagers at Bailey’s Beach plus kayaks, picnics by lakes and waterfalls and bikes to ride around the lodge. Sand duning on the Hokianga sand dunes – boat ride across the sand dunes and keep going into the waves!

A fabulous Kid’s Sleepout and Playroom is an optional add-on to the Seafields Pavilion and The Shed luxury suites; it includes funky furniture, PlayStation, games and an outsized beanbag. Plenty of space for ball games in the extensive grounds, too. As well as a dedicated children’s swimming pool, Seafields’ has its own beach frontage and offers kayaking, rock pool explorations, paddling, flat-fi sheep spearing and great nature walks. Horse trekking and pony rides along the beach – and then a family barbecue by the big pool. Treasure hunts can be arranged.

An amazing ‘Children in the Treetops’ programme introduces families to the wonders of Treetops 2500 acres of natural wilderness and to indigenous Maori culture. Classes include flax weaving, pumice carving, poi making plus Maori songs and dancing. Soak together in a natural hot spring and walk together to plant your very own tree. For older kids there’s Archery/Clay Bird Shooting and Target Shooting, kayaking on a private lake and horse trekking. A Teddy Bears’ Picnic will be a highlight for smaller ones and the whole family will be excited by Geo-caching, an up-to-the minute style of treasure hunting on the estate.

Christchurch, the Garden City, is packed with urban delights planned precisely for children and their parents. The Antarctic Centre is a must family visit for those who respect hardship and daring at the South Pole. The Christchurch Museum has an extraordinarily fascinating inter-active kid’s area to explore and the beautiful Botanic Gardens have a truly outstanding playground for younger children, which also feature a dedicated pool. Kids really like telling their friends about visiting the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and seeing the flightless national bird, the Kiwi bird. To prove it, every child visitor is given a ‘Junior Keeper’ Certificate.

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Welcome Back Package at The Sukhothai Bangkok, Now – 31 August 2010

The Sukhothai Bangkok, the city’s benchmark for discerning guests seeking sophisticated accommodation and refined service, introduces a “Welcome Back Package” to invite travellers back to Thailand, starting now through 31 August 2010.

The Welcome Back Package at Baht 4,900++ for single or double occupancy in the Superior Room includes daily breakfast at Colonnade restaurant, complimentary high speed Internet access and in room mini bar (soft drink & beer).

Or choose your preferred room type with an Executive Deluxe Room at Baht 5,900++ or Deluxe Suite at Baht 6,900++ and receive a complimentary one way transfer (from or to the airport) and complimentary 60 minutes Thai massage at Spa Botanica, for single or double occupancy with a minimum of 2 consecutive nights stay.

Terms & Conditions apply.
For further details and reservations, please email to or

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Japanese Monkeys Let off Steam

Most of us enjoy a long soak in a hot pool on a cold winter’s day, but did you know that monkeys are also partial to a bit of a frolic in hot springs?

The world famous Jigokudani wild monkey hot springs in Japan, some 300 kilometres north west of Tokyo, are home to about 200 wild monkeys, who naturally migrate to the hot water for shelter during Japan’s harsh winter temperatures. The natural hot springs (or onsen) are in a National Park, adjoining the Shiga Kogen Resort, and are believed to be the only place in the world where you can observe wild monkeys frolicking in hot pools.

The monkeys are known as the Japanese Macaque, or more commonly Snow Monkeys, and are native to Japan. They are tan coloured with pink faces, and adults and baby monkeys are fascinating to watch as they groom each other and play on the rocks, amongst the steam rising from the hot pools.

Humans are not permitted to soak in the springs alongside the monkeys, but there is a nearby (ryokan) Japanese hotel with hot springs for human travellers. Visiting the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park involves a 30 minute uphill walk to the park, and it is easiest to reach in late spring, summer and autumn. But it’s also worth the effort in winter when snow provides more dramatic scenery with plenty of steam and more monkeys seeking out the warmth of the hot springs.

The springs are also close to Hakuba in the Nagano Prefecture, which was the site of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. Hakuba is the skiing mecca of Japan, with many challenging runs for serious skiers, as well as the most spectacular alpine scenery in Japan.

A day trip is available, which suits travellers on a longer ski holiday but also those on a tighter schedule, which includes a visit to the snow monkeys. The trip departs from and arrives back in Hakuba, and also includes the Masuich-Ichimura Sake Brewery, a wonderfully preserved 240 year old brewery where you can try a range of sake. The tour also visits Nagano City, home to the 1400 year old Zenkoji Temple, designated a national treasure. It is one of Japan’s most revered temples and houses the first image of Buddha brought to Japan in the 7th century.

The streets surrounding the temple are lined with lantern lit shops and tiered roofed stalls souvenir shops, restaurants and galleries.

The full day tour to the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Hot Springs costs from $NZ165 per person. For more information talk to your travel agent or phone 0800 899 111 or email:

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Capital of Cool Back on Top for Winter

They say a change is as good as a holiday, but Kiwis can’t stay away from Wellington when it comes to choosing their favourite destination.

The Fly Buys/Colmar Brunton Mood of the New Zealand Traveller Survey, released by the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) today, found that Wellington was the preferred New Zealand destination for a winter holiday, followed by Christchurch and Auckland. Queenstown and Nelson rounded out the top five.

For more information about attractions and events in Wellington visit

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Melbourne – a winter wonderland of cultural delights

Melbourne will billow its cultural cape again this winter with a show-stopping line up of inspiring international exhibitions, theatre productions and musical spectaculars, festivals, events and cultural delights.
Reinforcing its reputation as a leading cultural destination, Melbourne will host two of the country’s largest exhibitions as part of this year’s eagerly anticipated Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series, one of the biggest events on the Australian arts calendar.
In a Melbourne exclusive, European Masters: Städel Museum, 19th-20th Century brings to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV International) more than 100 works from 70 of the world’s most influential artistic luminaries, including Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Degas and Picasso, as well as some – such as Munch, Beckmann and Klinger – whose work is rarely seen in Australia. Opening on June 19, this is the first time this extraordinary collection from Frankfurt’s Städel Museum is to be displayed outside Europe giving Australian audiences a rare opportunity to engage with truly revolutionary examples of modern art from seven of Europe’s major art movements.
In a second artistic coup, Tim Burton: The Exhibition will open at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on June 24, coming direct from New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Inviting visitors to step into Burton’s magical worlds and experience an unprecedented glimpse into the fanciful mind of the auteur, whose vision has been admired in movies including Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Sweeny Todd and more recently Alice in Wonderland, the retrospective showcases 700 examples of rare and never-before-seen photographs, paintings, drawings, puppets, storyboards and costumes as well as short films and animations. ACMI will have public lectures and a 10-day film festival screening concurrently with the exhibition in July.
Further magic is to be enjoyed on Melbourne’s stages this winter. Theatregoers will be spoilt for choice with a whole troupe of mesmerising musicals at Melbourne’s historic theatres.
The young and young at heart will be treated to a ‘spoon full of sugar’ with the latest blockbuster show from Disney and Cameron Mackintosh: Mary Poppins, which takes centre stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre from July 29. The Australian debut of this Broadway and West End stage spectacular that has already won the hearts of audiences worldwide brings together an Australian all-star cast (including Marina Prior, Debra Byrne and Verity Hunt-Ballard) and a joyous mix of singalong songs from the much-loved 1964 Disney film.
Elsewhere 1950s street gangs, ‘80s leg-warmers and sixties-style beehive hair-dos will take to the stage for popular musical classics Fame – The Musical (Regent Theatre), West Side Story (Regent Theatre) and Hairspray (Princess Theatre).
Film buffs will be able to indulge in a feast of over 300 fabulous films from over 50 countries over 18 days, plus an array of forums and panel discussions with film-makers, thanks to the Melbourne International Film Festival (22 July – 8 August).
Meanwhile, design aficionados can take delight in more than 75 design delicious events throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria as part of the State of Design Festival’s comprehensive program of awards, exhibitions, forums, workshops and markets (14-25 July).
Art hounds can find further inspiration in a broad selection of other exhibitions and events including Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition at Melbourne Museum (14 May – 17 October), Melbourne Art Week (2-8 August), the Melbourne Art Fair (4-8 August) and endless artistic gems, commercial galleries and inspiring initiatives throughout the city and state.
Sports fanatics won’t be left on the bench either with a heart-thumping series of on-field action including the Bledisloe Cup (July 31), Four Nations England vs Australia clash at Melbourne’s new AAMI Park on October 31, the 2010 UCI World Road Championships (29 September – 3 October), Phillip Island’s MotoGP (15-17 October) plus Aussie Rules football, A-League soccer and rugby league games galore.
Winter is also the ideal time to explore Melbourne’s myriad of lanes and arcades for all manner of hidden treasures: edgy clothes labels, eclectic jewellery, one-off homewares, tucked away cafes and underground bars.
With so much to see and do, tours are a great, time-efficient way to explore Melbourne’s attractions and landmarks, accompanied by a passionate local expert. Some options include:
• Hidden Secrets Tours – including Lanes and Arcades Tour
• Walk to Art walking tour
• Diggin’ Melbourne – a self guided tour for vinyl record lovers
• Photography Made Easy walking tours
• Melbourne Shopping Tour – tailored luxury, chauffeured shopping tours
• Melbourne Sports Tours – including new Fame & Glory Tour

Lose yourself in Melbourne during the cooler months and you’ll find there’s no time for winter blues.
For more information about Melbourne in winter, go to

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Monday, May 24, 2010

MasterChef Cooks Up a Storm on P&O Cruises’ Pacific Jewel

P&O Cruises turned up the heat on the talented contestants from Network Ten’s MasterChef Australia recently, challenging the show’s teams to cook for almost 2,000 passengers in their biggest ever challenge.

The cruise line invited MasterChef to film a cooking challenge onboard its latest superliner, Pacific Jewel, with the hit program’s blue and red teams vying to win the tastebuds of passengers at their traditional Sail Away party.

Each team had to produce 4,000 canapés featuring four different recipes, with passengers voting at the end of the challenge to determine the winner.

To add even more pressure, the MasterChef challenge was filmed in just eight hours onboard Pacific Jewel in Sydney’s Darling Harbour as the ship was readied for a 10-day cruise to New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

At the same time, 2,000 passengers were disembarked and another 2,000 embarked.

MasterChef’s Pacific Jewel challenge will air on Wednesday June 2 at 7.30pm in Australia on Channel Ten. (a birdie has told me that it should air in NZ around mid-July, but that's not concrete!)

Sture Myrmell, Vice President Hotel Operations for P&O Cruises, says there were some tense moments during the challenge for the contestants.

“Our highly experienced chefs are used to preparing daily meals for 2,000 guests – it’s not easy but the MasterChef teams controlled their nerves on the day and pulled it off,” Mr Myrmell says.

Fares for a 10-night cruise onboard Pacific Jewel departing Sydney on August 7, 2010 to the South Pacific start from $1,508 per person twin share. Passengers will visit New Caledonia’s capital of Noumea, as well as Ouvea in the Loyalty Islands and Vila and Wala in Vanuatu.

0800 780 716 or visit

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New 'Big Brother' customs rule leaves travellers red-faced

New powers allowing customs officials to search travellers arriving in Australia for pornography have been labelled as an invasion of privacy by the Australian Sex Party.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said that the first question on the custom’s Incoming Passenger Cards has been changed to ask passengers if they are carrying pornography.

The change was allegedly made late last year because the term “pornography” was more recognisable to travellers than the term “objectionable material”.

Travellers who answer YES to this newly worded question will then be asked whether they are declaring a weapon, illicit drugs or pornography.

If they say they are carrying ‘pornography,’ Customs officers have the authority to search these materials.

The Australian Sex Party President Fiona Patten claims the change was "sneaked through" by the Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor.

“How can the Minister call this monstrous invasion of people’s privacy and the criminalisation of hundreds of thousands of people who will answer ‘no’ to this question out of embarrassment, a ‘minor’ or ‘machinery’ change?”

Ms Patten said that Australian customs officials are looking for any R18+ and N18+ material— and many people wouldn’t admit to carrying porn due to embarrassment.

“Is it fair that customs officers rummage through someone’s luggage and pull out a legal men’s magazine or a lesbian journal in front of their children or their mother-in-law?”

"If you and your partner have filmed or photographed yourselves making love in an exotic destination or even taking a bath, you will have to answer 'Yes' to the question or you will be breaking the law."

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