Friday, June 11, 2010

Queenstown ahead in beds

Research released today (11 June) shows Queenstown has once again topped the country as New Zealand’s destination of choice.

According to Statistics New Zealand’s April Commercial Accommodation Monitor (CAM) total visitor nights were up 208,168 or 13.5 per cent, domestic visitor nights were up 1.8 per cent to 71,838 and international visitor nights were up 20.8 per cent to 136,330 compared to the same time last year.

Destination Queenstown CEO Tony Everitt says it’s good to see visitor numbers consistently tracking up and particularly positive to see growth again in the domestic market.

“It’s a good indication that the local tourism industry supporting Destination Queenstown’s DQ’s True Colours autumn campaign is working. April is one of Queenstown’s most beautiful times of the year and we’re delighted more people are choosing to visit in what’s traditionally a quieter period.”

John McIlwain, the head of Queenstown’s Hotel Association, is also happy with the results. Local hotel guest nights were up 18.8 per cent compared to the same time last year.

“It’s very pleasing to see international business continue to produce solid results but we also need to keep in mind that Easter and the bi-annual Warbirds over Wanaka fell in April this year. However, as we move into the traditionally quieter months of May and June, there are some positive signs that occupancy levels over the quieter months will be better than last year.”

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New Weather Station for the Launch of the 2010 Snow Season

The 2010 Perisher snow season started today with 10 centimetres of fresh snow on top of an abundance of snowmaking that has been in operation since 11 May for opening weekend.

Also starting this weekend, Perisher Valley will receive improved weather monitoring from the Bureau of Meteorology's new state of the art Perisher Valley Automatic Weather Station (AWS).

The new style Telmet320 AWS, located at Centre Valley at an altitude of 1738m uses the latest technology to measure temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, direction and precipitation in real time. Perisher's Media Department will use this information in all of its 2010 snow reports.

Temperatures this week in Perisher, the largest snow resort in the southern hemisphere and Australia's favourite, have been ideal for snowmaking with an average of 90 snowguns in action at everyday opportunity, many in continuous operations for 60 hours or more.

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Qantas to launch additional Perth - Sydney services

Qantas announced yesterday an additional six weekly flights on its Perth-Sydney route, to launch from next month.

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Continental flat bed now available to all London passengers

All Continental Airlines’ London flights now feature its new fully-flat bed in business class. The US carrier launched its new Business First seat in November last year and has been rolling it out across its B777-200 and B757-200 fleets, both of which serve Heathrow.

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Air France to offer A380 service to Tokyo

From September 1 passengers flying Air France between Paris CDG and Tokyo Narita will be able to sample the A380 superjumbo

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Starwood's Aloft brand to debut in London

Starwood’s select-service Aloft brand will open its first London property in time for the 2012 Olympic Games, with a 252-room hotel attached to the Excel exhibition and conference centre

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dining and riding in style with Botswana Butchery Queenstown

Queenstown’s iconic lakefront restaurant is offering diners a ‘taste of the high life’ this winter.

Botswana Butchery Queenstown has added a new indulgence to their menu -- the ultimate pick up and drop off service in the cosmopolitan alpine destination.

Diners can enjoy pure luxury by travelling in high-class style in a chauffeur-driven Bentley Flying Spur.

Complimentary transfers from any location within central Queenstown are available to diners at lunch time (noon to 3 pm) and very special rates, priced from as little as $25 one-way, apply for transfers within the surrounding district* or outside lunch hours.

Good Group CEO Russell Gray said he thought the service would be welcomed by locals and visitors alike.

“Queenstown is the ultimate alpine destination where people don’t do things by halves, so why not go that extra mile? You deserve it!

“Whether it is locals celebrating a special occasion or visiting skiers looking for that very special ‘ride’ to or from town, it’s definitely a must.

Located in Queenstown’s historic precinct, Botswana Butchery offers a sumptuous menu full of flavour. It has a strong focus on fine cuts of beef and wild and organic foods.

During the day, an Express Lunch menu is available with a selection of quick and delicious dishes for $15.

Botswana Butchery is warm and welcoming all year-round, with its roaring log fires and private dining suites. Function rooms can accommodate larger groups of up to 30 people for those looking to entertain friends or colleagues.

“People enjoy the extensive menu, admire the fantastic views, love the roaring fires, and really relax and enjoy the whole experience,” said Mr Gray.

Complimentary Bentley transfers are available when lunching at Botswana Butchery between noon-3pm daily. Subject to availability. Bookings essential. Complimentary transfers only apply within Queenstown CBD boundaries: Queenstown Industrial Place, The Rees on Frankton Road and Heritage Hotel on Fernhill Road.

* One-way special rates for transfers outside 12-3pm hours or outside CBD boundaries are:
Queenstown CBD - $25
Fernhill, Sunshine Bay or Arthur’s Point - $35
Frankton - $45
Quail Rise - $55
Lake Hayes Estate, Kelvin Heights or Jack’s Point - $60
Dalefield - $65
Lake Hayes Road - $70
Arrowtown or Millbrook - $80
Rates apply to maximum of four passengers per trip and are subject to change.
Botswana Butchery is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, between 11am and 11pm. Reservations are recommended – call 03 442 6994 or e-mail

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Boxing icon Sugar Ray comes to play

Boxing icon Sugar Ray Leonard will make a knockout appearance at Queenstown’s Winter Festival, Mountain Scene can reveal.

The six-times former world champion will address the crowd before taking a ringside seat at new charity bash Thriller in the Chiller.

He’ll also be the star attraction at an exclusive, pre-fight cocktail party at the Events Centre on June 27.

The American sporting hero has a few words of wisdom for the local and celebrity boxers taking part in the Mountain Scene-sponsored event. “The most profound advice I can give to contenders is to keep their guards up and duck…then duck, duck and duck again,” Leonard, 54, says.

“Thriller in the Chiller will also be great for the fans because I’m sure some of them will be there to see a few local guys getting punished, and who they probably wouldn’t mind having a swing at themselves.”

Festival boss Simon Green is understandably rapt: “It is a huge coup for us to secure someone as revered as Sugar Ray Leonard to be a part of our inaugural charity boxing event. Our boxers are going to be so excited.”
It’ll be the second time Leonard – famous for bruising wins in the 1980s against the likes of Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns – will have visited New Zealand within a year.

Last September he was drafted in as a promotional ambassador for the NZ Fight of the Century between David Tua and Shane Cameron at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium, in which Tua destroyed Cameron.

But Leonard – the first boxer to earn $US100 million from purses – insists he gets as much of a kick out of watching have-a-go events like Thriller in the Chiller.

“I’ve seen similar contests back home in the States, where you get doctor against doctor and accountant versus accountant, and it’s great fun,” he says.

“In their own way, the contenders take it just as seriously as I would have done getting into the ring with someone like Marvin Hagler.

“What’s funny, though, is they tend to come out in a blur of flying fists and punch themselves out within the first round.

“After that it’s like watching guys moving around wearing lead boots.

“But it’s great for the guys because it gives them a different perspective on boxing and an idea of how hard it is to be a fighter.”

Leonard says he has few worries about anyone getting badly hurt.

“The only things likely to get damaged are people’s pride and egos.”

After a glittering career in the ring, the twice-married dad-of-four hung up his gloves in 1997, aged 40.

He went on to become a commentator for televised fights and these days travels the world as a motivational speaker and promotes good causes for youngsters. He also hosted the reality boxing TV series The Contender.

While in Queenstown, Leonard – who’ll have eldest son and his co-manager Ray Jnr with him – will also donate an item to Thriller in the Chiller’s charity auction for the Bruce Grant Youth Trust.

But the California-based champ says he’s still recovering from damaging his shoulder recently while playing basketball with a nephew.

“In all those years as a fighter I only got one bad injury and that was to an eye. It’s ironic that I’ve done so much damage throwing a basketball around.

“The rehab for a torn rotator cuff is more painful than anything I ever experienced in the ring and, believe me, I have quite a high tolerance for pain,” he says.

“When I get to Queenstown my arm might still be in a sling but it won’t stop me from having a great time.”

Get up close and personal with Sugar Ray at an exclusive, pre-fight cocktail function. To get into the VIP bash, register your interest by clicking here. Tickets are $295 and there are just 50 up for grabs.

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Pop sensation Shakira Flies with German soccer team to South Africa

Lufthansa’s new A380 makes its first long-haul maiden flight carrying international pop star, Shakira and the German soccer team to South Africa for the 2010 soccer World Cup. Shakira will perform at the opening of the World Cup singing the official song ‘This time for South Africa’ at the inauguration ceremony.

Departing from Frankfurt, the pop sensation and the German squad were given a grand send-off. Germany’s new captain, Philip Lahm commented: “We’re looking forward with great anticipation to the World Cup.

Despite missing key players like the injured Michael Ballack and with the youngest team at a major soccer event in 76 years, the German team is hoping to add the 2010 World Cup title to their previous successes in 1954, 1974 and 1990.

Johannes Scherer, the host at the A380 take-off, commented on Germany’s match against Australia: “Every team that’s beaten Australia at a World Cup has gone on to become World Champion. That was the case in 1974, when Germany won the Cup for the second time, and again in 2006 when Italy won.”

Germany kicks off against Australia in its first match in its round in Durban on 13 June. German coach and manager Jogi Loew said that the team will be training hard prior to the game: “There are minor details we have to work on but we’ll iron them out.”

The A380 landed in Johannesburg at 7.10 hours local time Monday morning.

Football fans can view the arrival of the German team as well as pictures of Shakira on Lufthansa’s Facebook page

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Hermitage Hotel to host new Winter Ball

Aoraki Mount Cook’s Hermitage Hotel is adding some ‘sparkle’ to New Zealand’s winter calendar with its new Winter Ball next month.

The Hermitage General Manager Andrew Cleverly says the black tie event on Saturday 31 July is a great excuse to dress up, slip on some dancing shoes and prepare to party the night away in a magical winter wonderland.

“Mount Cook is absolutely spectacular in winter so we wanted to celebrate it in true Hermitage style with an event that’s glamorous, inspiring and lots of fun.”

Ball-goers begin the evening with canapés and Lindauer bubbles in The Snowline Lounge from 6pm then move through to the Alpine Restaurant which will be transformed into a shimmering ice-blue, white and silver winter wonderland.

A fabulous three-course dinner matched with premium South Island wines will be served and guests will have the opportunity to hear from inspirational guest speaker and famous mountaineer Mark Inglis.

After dinner the funky jazz sounds of The Tim Driver Band will have the crowd on the dance floor chasing any winter blues away.

Mr Cleverley says they’re aiming for about 180 guests to attend the ball and he’s keen to see people make a weekend of it.

“We’re seating 10 to a table so people can either get a group together or come on their own and make some new friends. We’re also offering some great packages to encourage people to stay and play so that they have the flexibility of dancing the night away or retiring to their room but still being able to wake up and enjoy a day of fun in the snow.”

Ball tickets are $150 per person and include canapés, a three-course gala dinner, drinks and entertainment.

Tickets and a range of Winter Ball packages, which give sharp savings on accommodation and dining, are available online at or by phoning the Reservations team on 0800 68 68 00 (03 435 1809).

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Increased demand prompts Air NZ to add capacity

Spurred on by recent increases in demand, Air New Zealand plans to increase its domestic jet route capacity.

General Manager Jeff McDowall announced the plans to add 180,000 more seats to the airline's domestic jet route capacity last week.

The steady increase in leisure and business customer demand over recent months has given the airline the confidence to commit to these additions, Mr McDowall said.

The additions will take the airline's main trunk routes, in particular its Boeing 737 services between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin, to a total of 750 per week, an increase of 4.2 per cent since September last year.

This is the third domestic jet capacity increase announced by the airline in recent months, following a 3.8 per cent capacity increase from November and a 10.5 per cent increase planned for January next year.
This latest increase will mean an addition of more than half a million seats to Air New Zealand's domestic network from early next year, Mr Dowall said.

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Jetstar to launch Singapore to Melbourne services

Jetstar will launch direct daily services between its Singapore hub and Melbourne from December 16 before starting daily services between Singapore and Auckland from March.

The carrier said the flights mark the launch of Singapore’s first low cost long haul airline.

Jetstar will operate two wide bodied A330-200s. In making the announcement, chief executive Bruce Buchanan again flagged up the prospect of expanding beyond Singapore to Europe.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Headwater’s Gastronomic Tour de France

France needs little introduction when it comes to fine food and wine, however some local delicacies are not so well known.

That’s why Headwater, leading cycling and walking tour provider, has listed their seven regional favourites, to ensure cuisine loving travellers to the country get a heads up on what’s top of the pots when it comes to food in France.

1. Alsace, one of France’s best kept secrets, offers both world famous wines and wonderful gastronomy. Pork-butchery is one of the oldest surviving traditions in the Alsace region with choucroute garni undoubtedly the areas most acclaimed dish. Made from various cuts of meats, salted hams and sausages braised in local Riesling wine, it appears on every menu from local workers' cafés to contemporary restaurants (although at the top end you're likely to be offered the grander choucroute royale made with champagne instead of wine!).

2. Burgundy is renowned for its wine. And also for its snails! The tiny, subtle-flavoured Burgundy snail is considered to be among the finest in the world. Rather than drown it in tonnes of garlic - as is often the case - Burgundian chefs prefer a more refined approach, opting instead for lightly sautéing in a parsley butter, adding possibly a dash of cream just before serving.

3. Not many people know that there are no fewer than 13 varieties of oysters in Brittany! If you are a fan, then see if you can taste the difference between the nutty-flavoured Aven Belon oyster, the perfumed Cancale oyster and the beautifully smooth oyster found on the Bay of Quiberon.

4. Some of the best cheeses in France come from the relatively unknown Massif Central. Top cheeses to try include the dry and fruity Cantal, the smooth and mild Saint Nectaire, and the stronger blue Fourme d'Ambert cheese, easily identifiable by its tall cylindrical shape.

5. With its warm sunny climate and proximity to the coast, Provence produces some of the freshest and tastiest food in France. If you're looking to try something a little different, look out for the delicate lavender honey which is delicious served with roasted figs or eaten simply with fresh crusty bread.

6. The fragrant black truffle, also known as the "black diamond", is used widely in the restaurants of the Lot & Dordogne, and is considered one of the pearls of French gastronomy. Chefs rely on it to turn a simple omelette into a gourmet dish, as well as often adding shavings to salads, hot cheeses and foie gras.

7. Tarte tatin, or caramelised upside-down apple tart, was apparently invented by two absent-minded sisters in the Loire where it remains a speciality dessert. Those who have a sweet tooth should also sample the almond patisseries from Comery and Poulain chocolates from Blois. Divine!

To experience the tastes of France for yourself, why not take part in a Headwater gastronomic cycling or walking holiday, such as an 8 night Dordogne gastronomic walk or a 6 night Loire cycling tour?

Contact Adventure World on 0800 899 111 or visit for further information on Headwater’s extensive range of European walking and cycling tours.

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Garuda Indonesia Celebrates Its Return to Europe with Exceptionally Priced Airfares

Garuda Indonesia is now flying into Europe and to celebrate the launch of the new daily service from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Dubai the airline is offering exceptionally priced fares.

Bagus Y. Siregar, Senior General Manager Australia/SWP Garuda Indonesia commented: “Garuda’s re-entry into Amsterdam is a significant step in the airline’s transformation into one of Asia’s most successful and profitable airlines and to mark the occasion we are delighted to be offering customers these competitively priced fares to Europe.”

To connect with the Amsterdam bound service and to offer travellers an alternative gateway between Asia and Europe, Garuda Indonesia has introduced direct flights into Jakarta from Sydney and Melbourne. These new direct flights commenced in August 2009 and on 23 July 2010 direct flights from Perth to Jakarta are scheduled to begin.

Effective immediately and for a limited period only the offer includes:

Return Economy Class

Ex Sydney to Amsterdam via Denpasar or Jakarta and Dubai for $1654* per person inclusive of taxes
Ex Melbourne via Denpasar or Jakarta and Dubai from $1635* per person inclusive of taxes
Ex Perth via Denpasar or Jakarta and Dubai from $1540* per person inclusive of all taxes

Return Executive Class

Ex Sydney to Amsterdam via Denpasar or Jakarta and Dubai for $6,239* per person inclusive of taxes
Ex Melbourne via Denpasar or Jakarta and Dubai from $6,220* per person inclusive of taxes
Ex Perth via Denpasar or Jakarta and Dubai from $4,239* per person inclusive of all taxes

Passengers travelling from Jakarta will be using the airline’s technically advanced 222-seater Airbus A330-200 aircraft with a two-class configuration - carrying 36 passengers in Executive Class and 186 in Economy Class. In Executive Class the aircraft offers fully reclining flat bed seats with 1.88 metre seat pitch. The aircraft also features individual touch-screen LCD screens in all classes; state-of-art in-flight entertainment systems with touch-screen Audio & Video On Demand (AVOD) delivering a choice of 25 feature films, 250 audio tracks and 25 video games.

Amsterdam is the first of several major European destinations which Garuda Indonesia intends to add to its fast-growing network over the next four years, including Frankfurt, London, Paris and Rome.

*Terms and conditions: Price are shown for return economy class travel ex SYD, MEL & PER. Taxes and fuel surcharges are included and correct as of 4 June 2010 & are subject to change. Bookings must be paid and ticketed by 31 July 2010. Valid for travel departures 07 Jun 2010 – 31 Mar 2011, seasonal surcharges & blackout dates apply. A maximum of two free stopovers are permitted, additional stopovers are charged.

For all travel bookings contact Garuda Indonesia on 1300 365 331 or your local travel agent.

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