Bid for a Stay at These Luxury Resorts and Help the Bushfire Relief

Vakkaru Maldives Aerial View
Vakkaru Maldives Aerial View

Live until 5pm Monday, January 27, all funds from global travel auction Australian Spirit Soars will go towards the Australian bushfire relief, with $20,000 raised in the first 24 hours

A silent luxury travel auction in aid of the devastating bushfires that have wreaked havoc to Australia’s rural communities and native wildlife is currently underway.

Launched by Australian travel and lifestyle companies Élysée Collective and World Resorts of Distinction, the auction, called Australian Spirit Soars, asks people around the globe to bid on up to 15 luxury travel packages, with all proceeds being directed to WIRES Wildlife Rescue, an organisation that is working to help save and protect Australia’s wildlife. Over one billion animals are estimated to have been lost in the fires across the country so far.

“The travel industry is a close knit one, both in Australia and around the world. In light of these tragic events our country have faced, we’ve been amazed at the support shown from around the world to help our nation in this time of crisis,” Élysée Collective Director Alice Moore said.

The environment and climate change is something very much at the heart of the travel companies involved.

“We are beyond grateful our travel industry friends from around the world are so eager to help in any way they can,” World Resorts of Distinction CEO Tess Willcox said.

Presently 15 luxury travel packages, with more anticipated to come on board, have been donated to the auction by some of the world’s most esteemed resorts, hotels and lodges including Aman, Soneva, Raes on Wategos, Nihi Sumba, Bawah Reserve, Vakkaru Maldives, Tokoriki Island Resort, Resplendent Ceylon, Sinalei Reef Resort and many more.

Packages on offer include a 5-night stay at Soneva Fushi or Soneva Kiri, a 2-night stay at Raes on Wategos, a 5-night stay at Nihi Sumba and a 5-night stay at Bawah Reserve.

Packages vary in value from USD $690 to USD $22,000. 

Within the first 24 hours of launching, the auction raised more than USD$20,000.

The two week initiative will continue until 5pm on Monday, 27 January.

First look of Sequoia at Mount Lofty House and Tasting Australia Event

Sequoia at Mount Lofty House
Sequoia at Mount Lofty House

Mount Lofty House announces that its new $15-million luxury lodge, Sequoia, will open in September 2020 with a special 2-day preview collaboration with Tasting Australia on 31 March and 1 April

The new lodge, Sequoia, at Mount Lofty House

South Australia will have a new luxury offering for local and international visitors with Sequoia when it officially opens in the Adelaide Hills in September 2020.

Once open, the $15-million luxury lodge will offer guests a six-star experience and be the first of its kind on mainland Australia. Overlooking the patchwork Piccadilly Valley, Sequoia is South Australian owned and operated by David Horbelt and his business partner Malcolm Bean.

Named after the three giant Californian Redwood trees planted by the original owner Arthur Hardy, Sequoia will feature 14 contemporary guest suites with access to a private club lounge, gardens, sundeck and natural spring-fed hot pools.

Overseen by Horbelt with input from local architects and designers, every room in the 75 square metre open-plan suites will display 180 views. The sunken lounge room will feature a Basket Range stone-clad gas fireplace while guests can sleep under the sky on a king-sized bed.

The 30 acre Mount Lofty estate is perched on the valley rim. Separate from the original house, the private retreat will have its own guest relations team and secure entrance.

Sequoia guests will have access to all of the property’s amenities including personalised service at the three-hatted Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant, Arthur Waterhouse Lounge and Stables Day Spa.

Guests can also choose from a catalogue of experiences that celebrate South Australian stories. Not available to the general public, these private behind-the-scenes tours with local winemakers take guests up-close and personal with native icons or local identities and brands.

Conveniently located just 15 minutes from Adelaide CBD and 30 minutes from the airport, Mount Lofty House offers a short escape in the rolling hills of the Adelaide Hills region that is known for its local wine and produce.

Tasting Australia Event at Sequoia at Mount Lofty House

Mount Lofty House will give an exclusive sneak preview of the lodge, six months ahead of its official opening, with an experience featuring some of the best food, wine and music from South Australia. The overnight Tasting Australia adventure begins with a limousine transfer to the estate and Sequoia Sparkling beneath the giant tree that shares its name.

From here guests can choose to relax during a 30-minute spa treatment or discover the nuances of Adelaide Hills gin during a guided tasting. Evening canapés will be served as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra performs live before guests connect with representatives from flagship South Australian brands RM Williams and Jurlique.

On Tuesday 31 March guests will experience a menu crafted by Hardy’s Verandah’s own awarded chef, Jin Choi and internationally celebrated ‘paddock to plate’ chef, Jared Ingersoll, while the menu on Wednesday 1 April sees a visionary gastronomical collaboration between Duncan Welgemoed (Africola) and Paul Bentley (Magno Brasserie) derived from an infusion of native Australian ingredients with unique Mexican preparation techniques.

Both menus will be matched with wines by South Australian producer, Penfolds. A bottle of Bin 28 Shiraz per couple with a Kangaroo Karmine leather wine bag will be available for guests to take home. Before guests retire, they can gather around a bonfire for after-dinner marshmallows, stories and stargazing before turning in to Sequoia for the night.

Tickets for the Tasting Australia event are $3000 per room.

A&K Releases New Journeys Through Australia & New Zealand

Gourmet Tasmania | A&K
Gourmet Tasmania | A&K

The new journeys include visits to South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula as well as Waiheke Island and the Marlborough wine region in New Zealand

Abercrombie & Kent has released a new collection of journeys around Australia and New Zealand encompassing gourmet getaways, expedition cruising, family holidays and luxury rail journeys.

The itineraries in the portfolio have predominantly been handcrafted for individual travellers and are ready-to-book and ready-to-travel, however for those wanting more personalisation, each journey can also be adapted, amended and extended according to the guest’s individual requirements with the guidance of A&K Travel Specialists, on hand to offer customisation and bespoke journey planning.

New destinations for 2020 include South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, where food and wine take centre stage. The six-day South Australia: Flinders Ranges to the Fleurieu private journey sees guests explore McLaren Vale with an exclusive masterclass at Wirra Wirra’s Old Barrel Hall, a behind-the-scenes experience at the d’Arenberg Cube wine sensory room and an 11-course degustation lunch.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s Waiheke Island is a new addition to A&K’s portfolio. A haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches, it’s only two hours from Auckland via road and ferry. Travellers can experience this on a two-night stay as part of A&K’s eight-day Connoisseur’s North Island private journey.

Dunedin also makes an appearance in the new portfolio, in a seven-day South Island Traverse. Known as the ‘Edinburgh of NZ’, the city has a rich Scottish heritage with one of the southern hemisphere’s best-preserved collections of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Guests have the opportunity to explore its iconic buildings and take in the beautiful Otago Peninsula to the east where rare wildlife includes penguins, albatross and fur seals.

The new week-long Kiwi Epicurean Adventure itinerary features New Zealand’s cosmopolitan capital, Wellington, whose edgy vibe is fuelled by great food, wine and craft beer, which guests can discover on a private gourmet tour. There’s also a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of Peter Jackson’s famous Weta Studios and three nights in the Marlborough wine region, with ample opportunity for cellar door visits and tastings.

In Tasmania, A&K Philanthropy supports the one-of-a-kind Raptor Refuge, which takes in injured birds of prey and rehabilitates them for return to the wild. On the new seven-day Gourmet Tasmania private journey, A&K guests have the unique opportunity of visiting the refuge and enjoying an unequalled level of access highlighting the aviaries and tactile displays there as well as the bird care and exercise areas to observe individual patients in the various stages of recovery.

Fore more information and details regarding all of Abercrombie & Kent’s journeys, visit

The Beautiful (and Delicious) Prosecco Hills Receives UNESCO Status

The Prosecco Hills
The Prosecco Hills

The United Nations has named the hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene Italy’s 55th UNESCO World Heritage site

The Prosecco Hills – one of the oldest wine regions in Italy and the birthplace of the world-famous sparkling wine – is joining the UNESCO World Heritage List.  Just an hour’s drive north of Venice in the foothills of the Dolomites, the Prosecco Hills is one of the world’s best and yet largely undiscovered wine regions. Here, ancient terraced vineyards clinging to the sides of every possible slope are dedicated exclusively to growing grapes for Italy’s most prized sparkling wine: Prosecco, and with the region soon to be on travellers’ radars thanks to the new UNESCO status, now is the time to visit.

Adventure tour operator Exodus Travels offers an eight-day walking tour of the Prosecco Hills beginning with a gentle walk in the town of Cison di Valmarino, following waterways, tranquil woodlands and panoramic views over the farmland and villages far below.

In the heartland of the Prosecco Hills, namely Valdobbiadene, S. Pietro di Barbozza and S.Stefano, travellers have the opportunity to visit one of the top local Prosecco producers. There they can tour wine cellars and sample delectable varieties of Prosecco during a guided wine-tasting.

Walking upon rambling mazes, streets lined with arcaded walkways and circled by pretty walls in the capital province of Treviso, travellers will have some spare time to sample one of the creamiest desserts, Tiramisu, whose birthplace is rumoured to lie in this city.

The tour concludes with a walk in Mt Cesen, a humble and charismatic mountain that sits gracefully above the Prosecco Hills.​ ​With an altitude of 1570 meters, Mt Cesen offers a stunning panorama of the mountain pastures, meadows and vineyards walked upon throughout the week.

“We take travellers to this beautiful region every season and it has quickly become one of our top-selling tours. Undoubtedly, Italy has one of the most infectious and alluring cultures in the world, so it’s no surprise the UN has added another Italian destination to their list,” said Exodus Travels’ Australasian Territory Manager, Louisa Day.

The tour includes all transport, all breakfasts, four lunches, four dinners, two wine tastings and accommodation throughout, with rates starting from AUD $2,379.

WA’s Ultimate Foodie Frenzy Returns this November

Swan Valley Food Gathering
Swan Valley Food Gathering

Western Australia Gourmet Escape will feature fine dining with international, Michelin-starred chefs; casual new wave wine events; masterclasses with culinary experts and live music from well-known artists

This November, culinary leaders from all over the globe will come together for 10 extraordinary days to experience Western Australia Gourmet Escape, a unique celebration of the State’s incredible food, wine and produce. For the first time, the festival will be held in three regions of Western Australia: the Swan Valley, Perth, and the Margaret River.

International culinary superstars including David Chang, Marco Pierre White, Danny Bowien, Amanda Cohen, Pierre Koffmann, Carlo Cracco, Garima Arora, Ivan Brehm, Selassie Atadika and other chefs and wine experts will be in attendance. Some of Australia’s best culinary talent including Alla Wolf-Tasker AM, Jock Zonfrillo, Josh Niland and Seth James will also be showing off their talent in the kitchen.

The newly expanded festival will offer guests a program of over 50 events, with more opportunities than ever to feast, sip, party and discover. The adventure will begin in the Swan Valley where food, music and entertainment are on the menu, followed by exclusive chef collaborations in Perth’s best restaurants. The journey concludes with the Margaret River wine region to celebrate the wine and produce the South West is famous for.

This year, the dancefloor will also be heating up, with the addition of an exciting music program that features chart-topping headliners The Rubens, fresh off their European tour, and indie star, singer-songwriter Fergus James at the new Gourmet Feast in the Valley event in the Swan Valley.

“In 2019 we’re extremely proud to offer the most diverse program yet, showcasing so many global cuisines and experiences in some of Western Australia’s most stunning and unique locations,” Gourmet Escape Event Director Katrina King said.

This year’s Western Australia Gourmet Escape Highlights include:


Swan Valley & Perth (8-14 November 2019)


Gourmet Feast in the Valley – a new family-friendly food and music event held on the stunning grounds of Sandalford Winery over the festival’s first weekend. Celebrating artisanal produce and authentic culinary experiences, visiting chefs include the first rock star chef Marco Pierre White, hardcore carnivore Jess Pryles and Christian Stevenson aka DJ BBQ.


Hands-on Activities and Masterclasses – enjoy locally-focused festival food by some of Perth’s hottest food trucks and revel in the drama of cooking over flame at the Feast Fire Pit presented by Australian Good Meat.


Three Exciting Collaboration Dinners – The Swan Valley program features these three dinners:

  • Marco Pierre White on the Past, Present and Future of Food: Presented by Synergy dinner at Sittella Winery (Fri 8 Nov)
  • Low and Slow with Jess Pryles presented by Australian Good Meat (Fri 8 Nov)
  • The Italian Connection Dinner presented by Lilydale with Fico (TAS) and Lamont’s

World Gourmet Symposium (Thursday 14 Nov) will bring together industry leaders and changemakers to discuss topics that impact and shape the culinary world.


Margaret River (15-17 November 2019)


Dining by Twilight at Margaret River’s Secret Garden presented by Seedlip – this much-loved event will this year feature Amanda Cohen from Dirt Candy in New York, alongside WA chef George Cooper for a vegetable degustation using produce grown on Cooper’s own farm (Sat 16 Nov.)


Into the New Africa #1 – Foraging, respect for the land and a deep love of country: South Africa’s Kobus van der Merwe, from The World Restaurant Awards’ Restaurant of the Year 2019 Wolfgat, is heading to Western Australia to prepare an intimate, personal dinner with Paul Iskov of Fervor (Fri 15 Nov.)


Into the New Africa #2 – For one night only, two nomadic chefs – Selassie Atadika travels from Ghana to team up with Paul Iskov from Fervor WA, for a cross-continent celebration of wild foods (Sat 16 Nov.)


Eating at The Crossroads: Nouri Comes to Vasse Felix – Ivan Brehm pioneers Crossroads Cooking, a culinary practice which reveals the complex web of shared food histories that influence what we eat today, exploring the global story of human connection. He will team up with Vasse Felix’s Brendan Pratt to weave the practice through the menu, paired with wines from the vineyard, a pioneer in their own right (Fri 15 Nov.)


Ristorante Cracco at Cape Lodge presented by Singapore Airlines – traditionally reserved for visiting chefs over the festival weekend, the elegant Cape Lodge lakeside restaurant will open its doors for Gourmet Escape attendees to experience a unique collaboration between resident local chef Tony Howell and Milan master Carlo Cracco for one night only (Sat 16 Nov.)


Mission Chinese X Chow’s Table presented by Gage Roads Brewing Co. – from the eclectic streets of NYC to the picturesque valleys of Margaret River, this unique partnering will see Mission Chinese mastermind Danny Bowien collaborate with local legend Malcom Chow for a Chinese banquet like no other (Sat 16 Nov.)


When Bo.Lan Came To Wise presented by Lilydale – Bo and Dylan from Bo.Lan in Bangkok will bring their traditional Thai cuisine with a fine-dining twist and serve it with unforgettable views and wines at Wise Vineyard Restaurant (Fri 15 Nov.)

The Immersive Rain Room is Coming to Melbourne

Rain Room
Rain Room

A 100-square-metre field of continuous rainfall, Rain Room engages all the senses

Random International’s monumental artwork, Rain Room, will make its Southern Hemisphere debut in Melbourne this August. Rain Room is a responsive environment, where millions of water droplets respond to guests’ presence by ceasing to fall wherever movement is detected, allowing those inside to be fully immersed in the rain while simultaneously protected from it.

Internationally acclaimed as ‘strikingly beautiful’, Rain Room is a physical experience that both deprives and intensifies the senses. It invites an exploration of the individual actions and emotions that can be generated by this unique, counter-intuitive space. The installation also seeks to explore how human relationships with each other and nature are increasingly mediated through technology.

Housed in a purpose-built, pop-up pavilion by March Studio, Rain Room is a permanent part of the Jackalope Art Collection. An ethereal architectural statement, the ‘Jackalope Pavilion’ is a creative and artistic space, through which Mornington Peninsula boutique, design hotel Jackalope, can showcase public art and activations in an urban context.

“Art is a significant part of Jackalope’s undertaking to provide transformative and immersive experiences,” said Jackalope founder, Louis Li. “Rain Room is our most ambitious curation to date; the work represents the spirit of our hotels – an interplay between imagination, mystery and science.”

Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass of Random International added: “Rain Room can be seen as an amplified representation of self-created environments. It’s an artwork that you inhabit, and as such, it can elicit any number of different socio-behavioural dynamics. Each iteration of the work has been altered in some intangible way by the space and context in which it has been shown, whether through the scent of the water, the fabric of the architecture, or the behaviour of the public.”

Rain Room has previously exhibited in famous locations such as The Barbican, London (2012); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013); the YUZ Foundation, Shanghai (2015); the LACMA, Los Angeles (2017); and at the Sharjah Art Foundation (2017). In Australia, Rain Room will be presented in association with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

Koch and Ortkrass are optimistic about how Rain Room will be received in Victoria. “From rainy London to drought-ridden LA, to the heat of Sharjah, the surrounding climate opens up different perceptions of Rain Room and room for discourse,” they added. “We’re excited to see how the work resonates on the other side of the world, in the Southern Hemisphere, and in the city of Melbourne.”

Rain Room will be housed within the Jackalope Pavilion on the corner of Acland and Jackson Street, St Kilda. Tickets will be on sale from Thursday 4 July 2019 for an August 2019 – end of Summer 2020 season. Rain Room is open seven days a week, Sunday to Wednesday from 10am-6pm and Thursday to Saturday from 10am-9pm. The installation will be closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


Tickets available at

Eat, Drink, Cycle, Repeat: New Foodie Bike Tour in Puglia

Puglia, Italy
Puglia, Italy

On the new tour offered by Ride and Seek, guests will be able to bike the back roads of Puglia averaging about 40 km per day, and spend their evenings at luxury hotels and fine restaurants dining on gourmet cuisine

Bicycle tour company Ride and Seek, in partnership with active travel tour company Tourissimo, has announced a new culinary cycling tour around Puglia, Italy as part of its new PLUS tours series.

Situated between the Adriatic Sea and the forests and mountains of Basilicata, Puglia offers a landscape of beguiling views, ancient olive groves, and UNESCO World Heritage sites that have seen the destination’s popularity boom in the past few years. The new tour highlights two of these UNESCO sites – Alberobello and Matera – known for their ‘trulli’ – whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs, and cave dwellings.

The trip starts in Savelletri with fig trees, blooming cacti, and herb gardens offering delightful fragrances. Guests will then ride through one of the gems of Puglia, the Valle D’Itria, where wooded slopes, vineyards, and endless olive groves are punctuated by the coned roofs of trulli.

“While many regions of Italy boast of having the best food in the world, Puglia could [truly] claim this title due to its simple preparations that allow the true flavours of the food to stand out,” said Beppe Salerno, Co-Founder of Tourissimo. “There are vineyards all over the region producing some excellent wines including full bodied reds like Salice Salentino, Primitivo, and Nero di Troia, and refreshing white and rosé wines.”

Guests will be able to bike the back roads of Puglia averaging about 40 km per day, and spend their evenings at luxury hotels and fine restaurants dining on gourmet cuisine and sipping wines.

The tour is scheduled for October 10-17, 2019 with rates from USD $4,195.

Tour highlights include:

  • Touring Matera where the 2016 remake of Ben-Hur was filmed
  • Discovering the white-washed town of Ostuni and the beaches near the fishing village of Savelletri
  • Visiting two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Alberobello & Matera
  • Riding among the trulli of Valle d’Itria
  • Attending a demonstration by a master cheesemaker
  • Exploring the Greek Ruins of Egnazia
  • Lodging in the award-winning Sextantio Hotel

For more information or to book your tour visit

Captain’s Choice Launches European Adventure for Art Lovers

Venice Biennale, Italy
Venice Biennale, Italy

The tour operator’s newest journey will take guests on an exclusive, insider’s tour of some of Europe’s most famous art hotspots

Captain’s Choice has announced the launch of a new 16-day cultural adventure, ‘The Art Journey’. Part of the new Dimensions of Travel Portfolio by Captain’s Choice –a selection of luxury journeys meticulously curated to singular themes – ‘The Art Journey’ will take 50 travellers to the centre of the art world and give them the opportunity to immerse themselves in the unique and extraordinary, avoiding the usual pedestrian tourist trails.

Departing on 14 September, 2019, ‘The Art Journey’ will begin in Paris, where guests will experience an immersion in the arts scene before moving to Italy for an insider’s view of the Venice Biennale, and finishing in Milan with a tour of the city’s private collections and fashion shows.

The specialist host throughout the journey will be respected curator Jason Smith, director of the Geelong Art Gallery who has previously served as head of Australian Art at the Queensland Art Gallery and director of Heidi Museum of Modern Art.

The Parisian leg of the journey will feature an exclusive tour of the Frank Gehry-designed Foundation Louis Vuitton, and a rare private viewing and dinner at the Picasso museum hosted by its fabled director Laurent Le Bon.

Transferring to Italy on board the luxurious Venice Simplon-Orient Express, guests will gain a true insider’s perspective of the Venice Biennale with an exclusive meeting with Australia’s Biennale representative, artist Angelica Mesiti, and have private viewings of iconic collections such as the Pinault Collection at Palazzo Grassi and the Victoria Miro Gallery.

Time in Venice will culminate in a private masquerade ball in the breathtaking Salone Marco Polo at the Hotel Danieli In Milan – a converted 14th century palazzo that has played host to such luminaries as Charles Dickens, Lord Byron, Peggy Guggenheim and Stephen Spielberg. Guests will also get to enjoy a private viewing of the Prada Foundation as well as take a seat at numerous shows during Milan Fashion Week.

Accommodation throughout the intimate ‘The Art Journey’ is suitably high-end, from the historic and beautiful Hotel Danieli and the iconic Le Royal Monceau-Raffles in Paris – which has been totally transformed by French designer Philippe Starck – to the Milan Mandarin Oriental, a charming 18th century luxury hotel located in the Quadrilatero fashion district.


For information on Captains’ Choice ‘The Art Journey’ and other Captain’s Choice journeys, visit: