First Igloo Village Opens in Australia

Alpine Nature Experience
Alpine Nature Experience

Spend a cosy night in a fully-equipped igloo, complete with an extravagant three-course dinner and a skimobile tour

Mount Hotham will be hosting the first and only igloo village in Australia. The Igloo to Skidoo is a unique vacation stay offered by Alpine Nature Experience and includes an evening snowshoe adventure through the snow gums to reach a fully-sustainable eco-village and central tipi.

Guests will learn how to prepare an authentic French cheese fondue and indulge in a three-course dinner, followed by a cosy night’s sleep in a real snow Igloo. Alpine Nature Experience’s Igloos are all furnished with a proper bed, negative 8-degree sleeping bags and fur blankets.

For additional comfort, guests have the option of staying in a Snowdome. These eco-conceived structures are wood-heated and have a sky view. Watch the stars as you fall asleep wrapped up in fur blankets and wake up to the smell of fresh coffee and a cooked breakfast; classics like french toast, bacon and eggs are on the menu.

Igloo to Skidoo will conclude with a scenic skimobile tour to complete the one-of-a-kind night in the snow. Bookings are essential and the tour is open Wednesday to Sunday from June 15th to September 30th. Prices start at $269 AUD per person for the full experience, including snowshoes rental, guided tour, glass of mulled wine, 3-course dinner, overnight stay, breakfast and skidoo tour.

alpinenatureexperience.com.au

Say Cheese: Foodie Experience Launches at Australia’s First Igloo Village

Alpine Nature Experience
Alpine Nature Experience

In addition to hitting the slopes, Mount Hotham visitors can now sit back and relax with a glass of wine with expertly-paired cheese, or indulge in an extravagant cheesy feast fit for the whole family

Alpine Nature Experience, which runs memorable moments in the snow, is launching a series of events centred around the wonderful world of cheese at Victoria’s top skiing destination, Mount Hotham.

With the help of Mount Hotham Resort Management Board, the adventure company has built a sustainable eco-village to hold these cheese-inspired activities. The new village resides just outside of the main village and is accessible by snowshoe or skidoo. In addition, it boasts a central heated tipi, an outdoor bar, three snow domes and two real igloos.

The Wine and Cheese Masterclass follows founder Jean-Francois on a gastronomic journey across the world of cheese and wine, pairing 10 French and Australian cheeses to six wines from the North East Victoria. Classes can take up to 24 guests.

Perfect for the whole family, the Cheese Feast Raclette Lunch invites guests to a cheese feast like no other. Grill a half wheel of French cheese to serve with fresh baked potatoes, all accompanied by delicious charcuterie, smoked meats and a selection of wine and craft beer. Classes can take up to 16 guests.

Both events are two hours long and $75 AUD per participant, including snowshoe rental. They will be offered every Thursday from July to the end of September, with the masterclass occurring at 10:30 am and the lunch at 11:30 am. Bookings are essential and can be made at www.alpinenatureexperience.com.au.

LT Introducing: A New Luxury Farm-Stay Cottage in NSW

Jamberoo Valley Farm Cottage
Jamberoo Valley Farm Cottage

From collecting freshly-laid eggs to feeding farm animals, this picturesque escape lets guests experience life on a farm — in the most luxurious way possible

A luxury farm-stay cottage has opened on Jamberoo Valley Farm, a working permaculture farm nestled in the green pastures of the New South Wales South Coast, just two hours south of Sydney. The beautifully-designed homestead boasts spectacular views of the valley right out to the ocean and offers Sydneysiders a new and unique  getaway from the daily grind of inner-city living.

Created by Evette Moran Interiors and stylist Styled By Love, the six-person, two-bedroom cottage has Scandinavian finishes and a large outdoor entertaining area with a wrap-around deck and BBQ. A steaming outdoor Swedish hot tub offers the perfect vantage point to relax while taking in the breathtaking Jamberoo Valley views while, later in the year, it becomes a cold plunge pool to cool down and refresh.

Surrounded by luxury gardens designed by award-winning landscape designer Charlie Albone from Inspired Exteriors, the opulent cottage sits on a 65-acre permaculture and polyculture farm that uses fully organic farming methods and principles. Guests can even hand-pick produce and herbs from the cottage’s kitchen garden and collect freshly-laid eggs from the chicken pen, taking advantage of the very short journey from paddock-to-plate for a beautifully fresh and in-season meal.

“Jamberoo Valley is one of the most spectacular hidden gems along the NSW coast. We wanted to create a beautiful farm-stay experience where people could truly disconnect to reconnect and experience what is a truly magical and energising property – from sitting back with a good book on the terrace to sipping wine by the fireplace or taking a romantic stroll through the grounds. It’s our favourite pocket of the world and we’re proud to be able to now share it with our guests,” said Moran.

The farm is also home to pasture raised and grass-fed beef cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. From Monday to Saturday, guests are invited to join staff at 9am to feed the animals, making the perfect activity for families looking for a fun weekend getaway with the kids.

The South Coast’s unspoilt natural environment is further enhanced by welcoming towns and quaint villages, as well as the diverse range of local attractions and adventures within a short half hour drive from the farm. Those staying can conveniently bushwalk in the Minnamurra rainforest, take the kids to the Jamberoo action and water theme park, explore the nearby beaches, visit the renowned Kiama blowhole or Kiama markets, or indulge at the local pubs and restaurants in Kiama, Gerringong and Gerroa.

Bookings are essential to stay at Jamberoo Valley Farm Cottage and prices start at $420 per night with a two-night minimum stay.

www.jamberoovalleyfarm.com.au

World’s First Rideshare Submarine Has Launched at the Great Barrier Reef

scUber

You can now catch a scUber to the world’s largest ecosystem – the Great Barrier Reef

If you’ve ever wanted to explore the Great Barrier Reef, now’s your chance to do it a little differently. Rideshare company Uber has partnered with the Queensland tourism board to launch scUber — a first-of-its-kind rideshare submarine experience. From May 27th to June 18th, scUber will be available for a limited number of riders to request through the Uber app.

Rich in marine life, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest ecosystem and is renowned as a biodiverse playground. The launch will support the ongoing protection and conservation of the world’s largest coral reef system through Uber’s partnership with Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. This organisation is committed to engaging the world in the protection and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef and reefs all over the world, using tech, data and a collaborative approach to conservation.

Leanne Coddington, Tourism and Events Queensland’s chief executive officer, said: “In late 2018, consumer research identified that exploring the Great Barrier Reef in a submarine was the most desired future travel experience sought by visitors. scUber makes this wish a reality and reaffirms Queensland tourism’s commitment to providing locals and visitors alike with truly remarkable ways to explore nature’s wonderland.”

scUber started taking riders on Heron Island, off the coast of Gladstone in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region on Monday May 27th, and will move to Agincourt Reef off the coast of Port Douglas in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef region from June 9th. Availability is strictly limited.

The entire scUber experience will cost $3,000 AUD for two riders and includes:

  • Pickup from your location with the Uber app
  • Return scenic helicopter ride to either Heron Island (for riders requesting from Gladstone) or the Quicksilver Cruises pontoon off the coast of Port Douglas (for riders requesting from Cairns, Port Douglas and Palm Cove)
  • One-hour ride in a scUber submarine
  • Return trip back to your original pickup address with Uber

To celebrate the launch, Queensland and Uber are offering this whole experience to one lucky winner and a friend from each of the following countries: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, France, New Zealand and Australia. Entries can be submitted by visiting scUberQueensland.com and explaining in 25 words or less why you should experience the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef with scUber. Terms and conditions apply.

citizensgbr.org

Uniworld Announces Four New Super Ships

Uniworld S.S. Bon Voyage Suite
Uniworld S.S. Bon Voyage Suite

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has announced a substantial expansion of its fleet, with three new vessels in Vietnam, Egypt and Portugal to launch in the next ten months. This comes following the extensive renovation of the S.S. Beatrice last year and S.S. Bon Voyage in April this year, with the renovation of the River Countess into a Super Ship occurring in Italy ahead of its 2020 relaunch.

The cruise company began transforming its fleet in 2017 with the launch of the S.S. Joie de Vivre, and when the three new cruise liners planned for the Mekong, Nile, Venetian Lagoon and Douro rivers float out in 2020, more than half of the ships in Uniworld’s fleet will be Super Ships.

Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge says the expansion of the Uniworld fleet is one that is considered, as opposed to the rapid and aggressive expansion models of other cruise lines in a time when cruising is king in the travel industry. “We have been in a consistent and relentless pursuit of excellence. But expansion for expansion’s sake has never been our business model.”

The new floating boutique hotels will feature the signature touches and distinctive themes the company’s ships are known for – more suites, more dining venues and luxurious finishes, while maintaining their high crew to guest ratio, and will showcase bold and adventurous interior design concepts that buck the trend of the overly-cautious, minimal interiors found on many other vessels.

“Our ships are absolutely unique and like a boutique hotel, reflect the destinations they serve from décor and artwork to food, beverage and programming.  We look forward to making our high calibre of service and personalisation in these remarkable destinations even better,” says Bettridge.

Uniworld’s new ships launching in 2020 include:

S.S. Sphinx, Egypt

With Egypt back on travellers radars, Uniworld will solidify its position as the only luxury river cruise line in Egypt when it launches the newest, most luxurious ship on the Nile river on January 6, 2020. Named after the goddess of the Nile, the S.S. Sphinx will offer three gourmet dining venues, including a private dining room and an al fresco dining experience on the upper deck, a swimming pool, massage room and 42 suites. Locally-sourced Egyptian artwork, fabrics and hand-carved furnishings will be used to bring the beauty of the region to life onboard. This ship will include 12 adventure-filled days to experience Egypt and the Nile’s top sites starting and ending in Cairo.

 

S.S. São Gabriel, Portugal

Launching on March 26, 2020, Uniworld’s S.S. São Gabriel will be the newest ship on the Douro river.  Designed to embody the beautiful Douro River Valley region, the entire top deck will offer all lavishly appointed suites, enhanced with Butler service, giving guests the option to dine at any time they’d like while enjoying the ship. Guests on S.S. São Gabriel will experience the UNESCO-designated Douro River Valley and indulge in the best of Spanish and Portuguese culture and cutting-edge, locally sourced cuisine.

 

S.S. La Venezia, Venice

The River Countess will undergo a complete design renovation and re-emerge as S.S. La Venezia on March 27, 2020 bringing guests complete luxury while exploring Northern Italy. The S.S. La Venezia will offer a 10-day itinerary that starts with an included two-day land stay in Milan where guests will visit Da Vinci’s renowned The Last Supper, and then continue with an eight-day of cruising through and around Venice, the Po river and three outer-lying Venetian islands: Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello. Guests will also have the option of purchasing the eight-day cruise-only portion of the itinerary.

 

Mekong Jewel, Vietnam & Cambodia

Debuting on January 3, 2020, this will be the newest and most luxurious ship on the Mekong river. Uniworld’s all-suite ship will include two dining venues: one main restaurant and an al fresco eatery on the upper deck. The Mekong Jewel will be 10 metres longer than the Mekong Navigator, but with the same capacity offering guests more space and amenities. The ship is being constructed with sustainable and eco-friendly materials, such as special paint used for the hull of the ship that creates less drag caused by bio-fueling, specially designed ship propellers that increase performance and efficiency, energy-efficient LED light fixtures, automatic air conditioning controls to optimise cooling resources, and water cooled air-conditioning system that will save energy. The 13-day itinerary will take guests from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, with visits to Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat and more.

 

For more information visit uniworld.com or call 1300 780 231.

Farmhouse-Turned-Luxury-Hotel Opens in Puglia

Masseria Torre Maizza
Masseria Torre Maizza

Originally a farmhouse dating back to the 16th century, Masseria Torre Maizza is the result of an over six million-euro investment to bring the property back to its natural beauty

The newest Rocco Forte hotel is a modern twist on Rocco Forte’s signature Anglo-Italian style in Italy’s most exciting destination, Puglia. Set in the charming area of Savelleteri di Fasano, Masseria Torre Maizza resides along the Adriatic coast and is surrounded by ancient olive groves.

Sir Rocco Forte, CEO and Chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels said: “It holds all the charm, character and flavors of southern Italy, offering guests a unique perspective on the local treasures.”

The stylish resort features 40 lavish suites with stunning views of the Apulian countryside, including the addition of the two-bedroom Torre Suite, located on the top floor of the masseria’s original tower. Olga Polizzi, Director of Design for Rocco Forte Hotels has worked with local artisans to restore the masseria by combining local heritage with a contemporary design to create a sense of modern Italian elegance.

Using local Apulian ingredients, celebrated chef and Creative Director of Food for Rocco Forte Hotels, Fulvio Pierangelini has crafted a menu of authentic Italian dishes for the hotel’s restaurant, Carosello. Set overlooking the ancient orchard, guests can dine at the poolside restaurant and watch the sunset afterwards at the rooftop bar.

Amenities include a 20-metre pool, a 9-hole executive golf course, access to a private beach club, fitness centre and spa treatments at the Rocco Forte Spa. Tailor-made experiences and excursions are available and can be created by the concierge for guests to get the most out of their stay in Puglia.

In addition, the romantic Apulian countryside and the resort’s gardens provide the perfect backdrop for weddings and private events.

Following its Puglia debut, Rocco Forte will also be opening new locations in Shanghai later this year and Palermo in 2020.

 

www.roccofortehotels.com/masseria-torre-maizza/

Crystal Cruises Celebrates 30 Years

By Staff Writer

Crystal Cruises has announced a series of commemorative gifts, on-board special events and value offers to take place in 2020 in celebration of its 30th anniversary. The distinguished cruise line first launched on 24th July 1990 when debut vessel Crystal Harmony sailed from San Francisco on a 12-day inaugural voyage to Alaska.

“We are immensely proud of Crystal’s legacy of offering luxury travellers the very best experiences in the world for 30 years, and are grateful to the world travellers who have journeyed with us and the travel advisors who have been integral to our success along the way,” said Crystal’s president and CEO, Tom Wolber. “While many of our guests have been on this journey with Crystal since the beginning, the Crystal Family continues to grow with each new voyage. It’s our pleasure to celebrate this milestone with travellers in a meaningful way – with great value and the opportunity to experience all the diverse travel experiences Crystal now offers.”

The special 30th anniversary savings include a designated 30 sailings spanning four brand experiences – Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Expedition Cruises. Crystal Society members will receive double their regular savings, now totalling five percent, while new-to-Crystal guests will enjoy two percent savings on the select voyages. These savings are in addition to Crystal’s Book Now Savings, which rewards travellers who book early. To take advantage of these special offers, bookings for the “30th Anniversary Collection” must be made by 30th June, 2019.

The anniversary collection features sailings around the globe, ranging from seven to 16 nights throughout 2020, including:

Crystal Cruises, 20 voyages: Mexican Riviera, Asia, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, New England & Canada, Middle East & India, and the Caribbean;

Crystal River Cruises, 5 voyages: Rhine and Danube rivers;

Crystal Yacht Cruises, 4 voyages: Seychelles, Adriatic, Mediterranean and Arabian Peninsula;

Crystal Expedition Cruises, 1 voyage: South Pacific.

All guests booked on the selected sailings will enjoy special events celebrating this milestone and receive gifts including Crystal’s 30th Anniversary Cookbook showcasing specialties from Crystal’s globally-inspired menus; a commemorative 30th Anniversary pin; a wine stopper and personalised luggage tags as part of the festivities.

 

www.crystalcruises.com

Armenia is Getting its First Luxury Collection Hotel

Marriott Yerevan
Marriott Yerevan

The Alexander will be Armenia’s first internationally-branded luxury hotel, offering stunning guest suites, an exclusive concierge team and the city of Yerevan’s first-ever indoor pool

Marriott International has announced it will be opening its first Luxury Collection hotel in Armenia. The Alexander will expand the well-known hotel brand to Yerevan, one of the world’s oldest cities and a historical intersection between the East and West.

“Shaped by rich traditions, coveted treasures and a storied history, the city of Yerevan truly encapsulates the spirit of The Luxury Collection,” said Jenni Benzaquen, Vice President of Luxury Brands, Europe at Marriott International. “The Alexander will provide sophisticated, independently-minded global explorers and locals alike with an unparalleled level of luxury in this fascinating destination.

The Alexander is conveniently close to the city’s famous Republic Square as well as numerous landmarks and cultural sights. The striking hotel reflects the city’s distinctive architecture, incorporating an 18th-century façade at its entrance and Armenian motifs throughout, led by Alexander James Interior Design.

Offering 114 spacious guest rooms and suites in total, The Alexander boasts select rooms with private balconies and an over 500-metre Presidential Suite that occupies an entire floor. In addition, there is the alluring Alexander Spa by Annie Semonin, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, a full-service beauty salon and the city’s first indoor pool, backed by breathtaking vistas of Mount Ararat.

Italiano Ristorante resides on the top floor and is under the expert direction of internationally-respected culinary professionals. Guests can try a smoked local trout or other Armenian-inspired dishes alongside modern Italian cuisine. The adjacent bar shares stunning views with perfectly-paired cocktails and an impressive wine selection that includes the finest local vintages.

Additional dining options include The Keys Aficionado’s Private Club, which offers a sophisticatedly-designed bar and wine cellar; Gabriel’s Bar and Lounge, a relaxed space serving small bites and refreshments; and the elegant Gabriel’s Patisserie, with its curated blends of tea and coffee, accompanied by a mouth-watering selection of decadent French and Armenian sweet treats.

For business or social occasions, The Alexander features five elegantly-furnished meeting rooms, all of which can be combined into an expansive space to accommodate events up to 160 guests. The spaces are additionally equipped with the latest audio-visual technology and an expert team on hand.

Guests can conveniently explore Yerevan with many of the city’s unique attractions just steps away from the hotel, including the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, the whimsical Seven Fountains and the National Art Gallery. Travellers will even have exclusive access to the services of The Alexander’s expert Concierge team, who will personalized excursions to immerse them in authentic Armenia.

theluxurycollection.com/thealexander