Starry Skies and Elephants: Unique Jungle Bubble Launches in Thailand

Jungle Bubbles at Dawn, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, Thailand
Jungle Bubbles at Dawn, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, Thailand

Guests of Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort can now get up-close-and-personal with roaming rehabilitated elephants

It’s official, quirky accommodation isn’t going anywhere. Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is now giving guests a unique opportunity to spend the night observing Thailand’s elephants in their natural habitat while staying in transparent Jungle Bubbles

Unfolding across 160 acres of Northern Thailand’s ancient jungle, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is perched on a hill overlooking the Mekong and Ruak rivers. The secluded location is positioned to take in three country views over the confluence of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar as well as grazing elephants in the natural settings below. 

Located in the jungle, the two Jungle Bubbles are perched on raised wooden decks offering guests views of the elephants and the night sky. The Jungle Bubbles were custom designed by Eye In The Sky and are constructed with high tech polyester fabric using Precontraint Serge Ferrari technology to create a milieu in which guests can enjoy an immersive nature experience.

The bubble accommodation is fully air-conditioned, offering 22 square metres of indoor floor space; a 4.5-diameter bedroom and living space with a king bed and seating area under a transparent roof; and an enclosed, nontransparent en-suite shower and vanity. Intimate touches of bathrobes and slippers, white bed linen, regular and feather pillows and bathroom amenities, a hair dryer, vanity and make up mirror are all provided, so guests have access to all the comforts of home. 

Guests of the resort can purchase the Jungle Bubble experience as an optional activity and spend the night from dusk till dawn, returning to the hotel in the morning.  Rates start from 17,700 Thai Baht (about $851 AUD) per night for two people and include a dinner basket, a fully stocked mini bar, 24-hour in-room dining service and tea and coffee making facilities.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is famous for its elephant camp that, along with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), were set up primarily to help elephants affected by abuse. Activities are designed to allow the elephant caretakers to raise the funds they need to look after the elephants without forcing the elephants into activities they might not enjoy. 

The introduction of the Jungle Bubbles at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is another world first that can be scaled and shared with other elephant camps to allow them to give a subset of elephants – those that prefer to only meet their mahouts and those that are bonded into friendship groups – a comfortable life, without becoming a financial strain on the operation.

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.

Rising Stars: Destinations on Our Radar for 2020

Baobab Trees
Baobab Trees

In partnership with

G Adventures Logo

This year has certainly been grand, but 2020 is calling, and with it, a host of destinations on the rise are just waiting to be explored

In 2019, it was the likes of Tahiti, Namibia, Jordan and Montenegro– destinations that were rapidly trending and, seemingly all of a sudden, on travellers’ radars. And while the white sand beaches of French Polynesia and luxurious lodges of Africa aren’t dropping off our travel itineraries any time soon, there are already whispers of entirely different – and surprising – destinations topping the must-visit lists of 2020.

Tour operator G Adventures is forecasting a colourful mix of emerging destinations, well-trodden cities hosting global events, and countries on the rebound where tourism can truly be a force for good for local communities.

“As pioneers of community tourism, our mission is to change people’s lives through travel, going beyond the lives of our travellers to the locals we visit, particularly people who are marginalised,” says G Adventures’ founder Bruce Poon Tip. “When we return from a transformative travel experience, we can then bring back what we learnt to make a difference in our own communities. That’s what we call the ripple effect.”

Wise words. Some other wise words? As the Dalai Lama once said: “Once a year go some place you’ve never been before.” G Adventures’ list seems like a good place to start.


Travellers experiencing a mindful trip in the peaceful home of Buddha next year will find it hard to recall that 2020 marks five years since the April 2015 earthquake hit. The country has been busy rebuilding and is now encouraging tourists to return with the launch of its ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ campaign, which aims to attract two million visitors in the calendar year. G Adventures has experienced a 90 per cent increase in the number of travellers visiting Nepal since 2017, so the word is officially out on this breathtaking country.


It’s safe to say Georgian food and wine are having a moment right now, with the media spotlight highlighting delicacies such as khinkali (soup dumplings) and the country’s traditional winemaking process. G Adventures has witnessed a 44 per cent increase in travellers visiting the country over the past three years and its profile as an international tourism destination will continue to build with the UNWTO selecting Georgia to host its June 2020 board meeting. New budget flight routes through Europe will also help open up this emerging destination.


This gem off the coast of southern Africa has long attracted adventure travellers, but the destination has been experiencing an upswing in tourist arrivals since 2013, with more travellers being lured to the exotic land that feels a world away from it all. Thousands of animal species can be found in Madagascar, including lemurs, which can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. Then there’s exquisite rainforests, beaches and reefs as well as the photogenic ‘Avenue of the Baobabs’ near the busy capital, Antananarivo, providing a magnetic landscape ripe for exploration.


After a meteoric rise to become one of the hottest destinations of the past few years, Sri Lanka’s tourism was heavily impacted following the Easter attacks of April 2019. According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, arrivals fell 71 per cent in May; the lowest number since the civil war ended a decade ago. But with all foreign advisories lifted, 2020 is the perfect time for travellers to return to experience the country’s kind people, rich culture and stunning shoreline. And with the Sri Lankan government offering a free online visa for travellers from 48 countries, including Australia, it’s now even easier to go.


Did you know 2020 is a leap year? So where better to visit than the country with its own leap-year tradition? On the Emerald Isle, age-old proposals are turned on their head and popping the question comes down to the fairer sex. Whether or not she has to bend the knee is still up for debate, but what isn’t is Ireland’s incredible natural beauty and exciting urban scene. Galway has been named a European Capital of Culture for 2020, along with Rijeka in Croatia, so make sure you schedule in a visit. The harbour city is often referred to as the “Cultural Heart of Ireland” thanks to its emphasis on Irish language, music, song and dance traditions.


With its beautiful beaches, world-class surf and stunning classic colonial architecture, Nicaragua is back on its feet and ready to welcome tourists. The country underwent a period of unrest in 2018, and tourist arrivals dropped as a result, but now that the calm has returned, the friendly locals are hopeful the tourists will follow. And with one look at the dramatic beauty of this land, we think they’ll be happy to oblige.


With Rio de Janeiro named UNESCO’s first World Capital of Architecture for 2020, the famed Brazilian city just became even more appealing. According to UNESCO, Rio will host discussions centred on how urban planning and cultural heritage can help promote inclusive societies and effective institutions. And for those who aren’t so design-inclined, there’s always Brazil’s ethereal and diverse landscapes of picture-perfect beaches, historical colonial towns and lush rainforests. Not to mention that little soirée called Carnival, taking place on February 21, 2020.


The Caribbean might not be the most obvious choice to Australians for a holiday, but with affluent Aussies increasingly priding themselves on visiting surprising, out-of-reach destinations, that’s precisely the point. As a major sailing destination, this yacht-dotted chain of islands serves up private islands with hidden coves, secluded beaches and crystal-clear waters inviting snorkelling adventures. The beguiling volcanic landscape is a photographer’s dream, and the capital, Kingstown, is a pretty port city boasting panoramic views of the archipelago beyond.


Often overlooked on a Southeast Asian adventure, the evergreen, mountainous nation of Laos is located at the crossroads of Asia and, as a result, is one of the region’s most ethnically diverse countries. Laos has been far slower to develop than its neighbours, leaving it deliciously untainted by mass tourism and offering a slower, more authentic Asian experience full of opportunities to witness thriving local traditions. In Luang Prabang, Buddhist monasteries pepper the land and mornings see slews of saffron-robed monks walking the streets, while fascinating journeys await on the famous Mekong River.


Tourism in South Africa has been steadily growing since 2013. In 2018, 16.44 million people arrived in the country and this figure is expected to reach 19.6 million by 2023. Given the spectacular coastline, national parks and lush winelands, it’s no wonder why. The nation’s 2019 Rugby World Cup win is sure to bring fresh tourism interest in 2020, but we’d say the myriad opportunities for game-spotting on safari and the buzzing atmosphere in cosmopolitan Cape Town are even more likely to pull the crowds.


This small island country is on a roll, its popularity bubbling and set to boil over ahead of the 2020 Olympics. Travellers to Japan are spoilt with a formidable food scene, magnificent natural beauty and a unique culture that has fascinated visitors for centuries. Going hand in hand with ancient traditions is a feeling of incredible modernity, with the Shinkansen (bullet train) network a symbol of the nation’s efficiency in the bustling modern world. A trip to Japan may not be complete without getting a seat on one of these, but a visit to a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) is just as vital.


Greenland hit the headlines earlier this year when President Trump stated he wanted to buy the autonomous Danish territory. Online search results doubled, and this otherworldly destination is now growing in popularity. While the US president’s interest might be political, it’s the country’s unique geography and culture that appeals to leisure visitors. The majority of Greenland’s residents are Inuit and three-quarters of the country is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica. Natural phenomena such as summer’s midnight sun and winter’s Northern Lights make Greenland truly a one-of-a-kind destination.

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts Launches Decadent Collection Of One-of-a-Kind Journeys

Rosewood Limited Edition Journeys
Rosewood Limited Edition Journeys

Priced from USD $6950 up to $290000, the Rosewood Limited Edition experiences provide privileged and insider access to esteemed tastemakers in the world’s most alluring destinations

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has revealed the Rosewood Limited Edition, a collection of one-of-a-kind travel experiences from the ultra-luxury hospitality brand’s properties across the globe, available to purchase now.

Comprised of 12 inspired excursions, Rosewood Limited Edition offers privileged access to the often-unreachable elements of today’s most desirable destinations, made available exclusively through Rosewood’s unique relationship with beloved brands, trusted tastemakers and local communities worldwide.

As the name implies, the journeys included in Rosewood Limited Edition are limited in number, with several only being offered once, and have been carefully curated to cater to affluent explorers with a variety of interests.

Each bespoke Rosewood Limited Edition package provides recipients with exclusive excursions and offerings that speak to the spirit and pastimes of its respective destination, from designing and customising a vintage Jaguar Type E Cabriolet with renowned French designer Tristan Auer in Paris to deep-diving in search of a Ulysse Nardin Diver 42mm fine watchpiece in the Bahamian sea.

Additional highlights, such as “glamping” in the middle of the Arabian Desert in a recreated Rosewood Abu Dhabi suite and a historic exploration of Myanmar old and new with renowned Burmese historian Dr. Thant Myint-U, provide an authentic and profound immersion into the local communities and traditions of several of the world’s most culturally significant cities and sites.

“Experiential travel has been an integral component of Rosewood’s DNA since the company’s inception nearly 40 years ago and has recently become even more deeply established as a key priority and passion point for today’s generation of travellers,” said Radha Arora, president of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. “With Rosewood Limited Edition, we are delighted to collaborate with our distinguished community of tastemakers and visionary partners to bring Rosewood’s destinations to life and take the adventures of ‘affluential explorers’ to new heights.”

Highlights of the inaugural 2019 collection of Rosewood Limited Edition include:


Customise a Vintage Jaguar Type E with Noted Designer Tristan Auer (Paris, France)

Inspired by the remarkably refurbished 1973 Citroen DS that ushers guests of Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel throughout Paris, this one-of-a-kind experience allows auto enthusiasts and amateurs alike to customise their own vintage Jaguar Type E Cabriolet with renowned French designer Tristan Auer, the interior designer behind many of the hotel’s public spaces and the Citroen house car itself. In collaboration with the luxury brand Loro Piana Interiors, Tristan will guide guests to customise the interior leathers and exterior finishes of their personalised Jaguar, theirs to cherish for years to come. Once the customisation is complete, the car will be featured at the 2021 Concours d’Elegance Chantilly Arts & Elegance, one of the world’s most exclusive invitation-only car events. The “Va Va Vroom” experience is available at Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel with two nights’ accommodations and private dining for 12 at La Cave, starting at USD $290,000.


Launch a Luxury Luggage Line with Métier London (London, England and Montalcino, Italy)

The Designer Discovery Package at Rosewood London offers guests a chance to create the new “it” accessory of the season under the tutelage of Métier London’s creative director, Melissa Morris, with whom they will collaborate on their very own collection of luxury leather travel accessories to be shown and sold at the brand’s flagship store. Beginning with an intimate dinner with Melissa at Rosewood London, the journey will then take guests to Florence via private jet to handpick the leather for their collection and learn about the craftsmanship, time-honoured techniques and impeccable materials that go into creating the bespoke luggage. After a day of designing, guests will retreat to Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco for a relaxing overnight stay in a luxury suite at the private estate nestled in the heart of the Tuscan countryside. The “Design…In a Bag” experience is available at Rosewood London with two nights’ accommodations and one night’s accommodation at Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco starting at USD $115,000.


Search the Bahamian Seas for the Ultimate Buried Treasure (Nassau, Bahamas)

Adventure seekers will experience the Bahamian seas like never before via this action-packed, ultra-luxury excursion from Rosewood Baha Mar. Aboard the resort’s Eternity mega-yacht, guests will spend the day in search of rare treasure – a Ulysse Nardin Diver 42mm watch buried in the sands below – alongside a professional diver as well as a personal photographer and videographer. With their magnificent memento in hand, guests will return home via Baha Mar’s private jet to share tales of their underwater adventure with family and friends. The “Rolling in the Deep” experience is available at Rosewood Baha Mar with four nights’ accommodations and roundtrip flights on Baha Mar’s private jet, starting at USD $202,100.


Explore the Apex of Southern Hospitality, Fashion and Art (Dallas, Texas)

Offering a behind-the-scenes, ultra-luxury look at several of the state’s most illustrious institutions, this one-of-a-kind experience in partnership with bespoke cowboy boot company Miron Crosby combines the best of Texas fashion, history and heritage for the ultimate southern escape. The exclusive excursion will whisk guests around Texas by private jet to participate in an array of authentically Texan activities, including a tour and fitting at Rios of Mercedes boot factory, a VIP visit to Marfa’s contemporary art museum Chinati Foundation and an overnight stay at a cattle ranch alongside the property’s owners, Miron Crosby’s founders Lizzie Means Duplantis and Sarah Means. Amidst the extraordinary outings, guests will design their own custom Miron Crosby cowboy boot at the brand’s Highland Park Village boutique with the help of Lizzie and Sarah, leaving Texas with a one-of-a-kind creation to be cherished for years to come. The “Bigger’n Texas” experience is available at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek with three night’s accommodations at the hotel and dinner at Mansion Restaurant, starting at USD $197,600.


Walk the Red Carpet at The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (Montecito, California)

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for cinephiles, this limited edition offering provides film fanatics with all-access passes to the most desired events at the world-renowned Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF.) Following a sumptuous dinner at Rosewood Miramar Beach’s signature oceanfront restaurant, Caruso’s, a custom Rolls-Royce Ghost will transport guests away to the historic Riviera Theater to enjoy a private screening of their choice of any 2020 Academy Award-nominated film. A fun-filled evening with A-list celebrities at the 2020 Maltin Modern Master Award Ceremony, with preferred VIP seating at The Arlington Theater, will grant a further glimpse inside the glamorous lifestyle of Hollywood’s elite. Back at Rosewood Miramar Beach, guests will be pampered with at Sense, A Rosewood Spa followed by a private hair and makeup session with The Wall Group Los Angeles’ celebrity makeup artist, Kate Lee, and hair stylist to the stars, Renato Campora. Once “red carpet ready,” the Rolls-Royce will once more carry guests away to make a grand entrance at The Arlington alongside the industry’s top talent and be escorted to their seats for the 2020 Virtuoso Awards, an exclusive awards ceremony honouring next-generation actors and actresses. The “A Star is Born” experience is available at Rosewood Miramar Beach with three nights’ accommodations and dinner at Caruso’s, starting at USD $50,800.


Sleep Under the Stars in the Arabian Desert (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Ideal for couples looking for their next romantic adventure, Rosewood Abu Dhabi has collaborated with Starlight Camp to create an ultra-luxury glamping experience in the heart of the Arabian Desert. Guests will spend one night in a tailor-made, re-created Rosewood Abu Dhabi Suite set up in a domed tent amongst the desert dunes, where they will be treated to personal butler service, as well as a desert banquet prepared with outdoor cooking demonstrations by chefs. The “Ultimate Arabian Night” experience is available at Rosewood Abu Dhabi, starting at USD $15,000.


Hit a High Note at Café Carlyle with Steinway (New York, New York)

The perfect gift for the music connoisseur, this experience offers a behind-the-scenes peek into the original Steinway & Sons Factory, where guests will discover the secrets of piano production and participate in the scrupulous crafting process of their very own bespoke piano. Steinway Label Executive Producer Jon Feidner will work alongside the lucky gift recipient to record and edit an original composition, which will go on to be the subject of a live playback listening party at Steinway Hall’s premier performance space. Back at The Carlyle, guests will close out the evening at the iconic Café Carlyle over a private performance by legendary Steinway Artist Haochen Zhang. The “Strike a Chord” experience is available at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel with two nights’ accommodations, starting at USD $200,000.


Maintain the Future of Thailand’s Beaches (Phuket, Thailand)

The private islands of Koh Mai Thon, Raya Island and Koh Khai and the picturesque Trang Beach at Rosewood Phuket, will welcome recipients of this exclusive excursion for a day of care and conservation. Upon arrival to each location, guests will work with scientists from Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources to contribute to the restoration and clean-up of the beaches, helping to maintain their reputation as some of the most stunning sites in the region. In collaboration with Jean Tryn, owner of sustainable apparel retailer Trichus, and Rewat Chamnarn, former editor-in-chief of Wallpaper Thailand, guests will go on to transform the day’s debris into custom designed fashion pieces, which will later be displayed for sale at Rosewood Phuket’s retail gallery. The “Paradise, Found” experience is available at Rosewood Phuket with four night’s accommodation, starting at USD $16,950.


Timeless Elegance as East Meets West (Bangkok, Thailand and Geneva, Switzerland)

Lovers of haute design will delight in an entirely customised ensemble designed by notable names in two continents: Thai designer Vatanika Patamasingh Na Ayudhya and Swiss watchmaker Franck Muller. During a seven-night stay at Rosewood Bangkok, the lucky recipient will consult with Vatanika for the creation of a Thai-inspired outfit, which itself will inform a luxury timepiece co-designed by Vatanika and Franck Muller himself. Six months later, guests will receive two first class plane tickets to Geneva to pick up their watch at the famous factory. The “Fashion Forward” experience is available at Rosewood Bangkok with seven nights’ accommodations, daily breakfast, afternoon tea at Lakhorn European Brasserie, dinner for two at Nan Bei, cocktails for two at Lennon’s, two treatments for two people at Sense, A Rosewood Spa, and two first class plane tickets to Geneva at USD $110,000.


Capture the Essence of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, China)

The perfect gift for photo enthusiasts and cinephiles, this experience, in collaboration with the leading Leica Cameras, offers an exclusive excursion throughout one of the world’s most photographed cities, Hong Kong. Rosewood Hong Kong’s executive chef Sandro Gamba, whose culinary talents and eye for visual flair has established Rosewood Hong Kong’s gastronomic reputation and a Leica insider himself, will lead the recipient on a photo adventure. Beginning with a personal portraiture photoshoot by Sandro Gamba throughout the urban tapestry of Hong Kong, the hotel’s Cultural Concierge will join to provide insights and observations of the city, only locals know. Guests will also take their own photos on their new Leica M10 camera during the day. Following the shoot, guests will be granted private access to the F11 Foto Museum, a space dedicated to the art of photography through a well-curated exhibition of rare cameras, books and photos.

The Life Behind the Lens experience is available at Rosewood Hong Kong with two nights’ accommodations, daily breakfast at Holt’s Café, afternoon tea for two at The Butterfly Room, nightcap for two at DarkSide, bespoke dinner fort wo by Chef Sandro, roundtrip airport transfers starting at USD $35,000.


Bridge the Gap Between the Yangon of the Past and the Future (Yangon, Myanmar)

History buffs will be invited to discover the roots of Myanmar through the eyes of a renowned Burmese historian, Dr. Thant Myint-U, in this immersive introduction to the captivating country. After a one-on-one meeting with the honoured historian over afternoon tea, guests will take a limousine ride to U Thant House to discover the life and works of former United Nations Secretary-General U Thant before exploring the city by foot with a guide from Yangon Heritage Trust. The next day, guests will encounter the more modern side of Yangon, participating in street art painting sessions with the co-founder of Yangon Walls to help transform the city’s back alleys with colourful murals. The journey will end with a relaxing and refined handcrafted whiskey cocktail tasting at the CourtRoom Whiskey Bar and Cigar Lounge.

The When the Past Meets Future experience is available at Rosewood Yangon with three nights’ accommodations, afternoon tea at the Living Room and dinner at NOVA, starting at USD $6,500.


The Heritage of Cognac Meets the Artistry of Beijing (Beijing, China and Paris, France)

A brandy lover’s dream, this exquisite excursion brings travellers to the most exclusive corners of Martell Cognac, one of the world’s top cognac houses, to curate a collection of their own exclusive cognacs from the family’s private reserve alongside the property’s owner and cellar master. Topping off the bespoke experience, leading Chinese artist Li Yong Fei will take the personalisation a step further, creating a customised commemorative trunk to house the one-of-the-kind collection.

The Master Pairings experience is available at Rosewood Beijing with two nights in the Beijing House presidential suite, one night at Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel’s Duc de Crillon Suite, one-night stay at Château de Chanteloup, one-on-one session and studio tour with artist Li Yong Fei, and private experience at Château de Chanteloup for up to six guests, starting at USD $165,000.

This Flight From Melbourne Could see you Ringing in the New Year in Antarctica

Antartica Flights
Antartica Flights

The unique New Year’s Eve Antarctica Flight from Melbourne still has limited seats available from $1,199 per person

Those looking for a memorable way to welcome the new decade this New Year’s Eve should look no further than Antarctica Flights. Departing from Melbourne mid-afternoon, the return chartered Qantas flight positions guests over the icy continent right in time to ring in the New Year. Passengers will bear witness to glaciers, icebergs and lunar landscapes as the sound of a four-piece jazz band plays live in the cabin. 

And with up to 19 weather dependent routes with up to four hours viewing time over the ice, no two flights are the same. Paired with Qantas’ full international flight service, commentary from the cockpit and Antarctica experts hosting the flight, the plane descends to as low as 10,000 ft and swoops in figure-8 patterns to maximise viewing opportunities of research bases, mountainous peaks and colossal icebergs below.

Better yet, no passport or luggage are required. You can even go in your board shorts, if that’s your thing.

Limited seats also available on the 16 February 2020 flight from Melbourne.

Switzerland Takes Out Top Spot in Monocle’s Best Small Cities Index

Lausanne, Switzerland
Lausanne, Switzerland

Monocle’s inaugural Small Cities Index ranks the top 25 best places in the world to relocate to

Lausanne has taken out the number one spot in Monocle’s inaugural Small Cities Index. The ranking was published on Thursday 28 November 2019 in the magazine’s special annual title ‘The Forecast’, which looks at the places and trends that will shape the coming year. It is the first time the publication has focused on smaller hubs, with populations of up to 200,000.

Lausanne – population 140,000 – won as a result of its global outlook, multilingual population (40 per cent of residents are not nationals), good schools, public transport (it’s the smallest city with a metro in the world), great natural setting and its hosting of key employers, including the International Olympic Committee. The Swiss city of Basel also made the list, coming in at number 14.

Increasingly popular among international tourists, Tasmanian capital Hobart also made the top four.

The following places have been identified as the top 25 small cities in the world:

  1. Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. Boulder, USA
  3. Bergen, Norway
  4. Hobart, Australia
  5. Chigasaki, Japan
  6. Bolzano, Italy
  7. Bordeaux, France
  8. Innsbruck, Austria
  9. Porto, Portugal
  10. Aachen, Germany
  11. Reykjavik, Iceland
  12. Savannah, USA
  13. Potsdam, Germany
  14. Basel, Switzerland
  15. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  16. Victoria, Canada
  17. San Sebastián, Spain
  18. Eindhoven, Netherlands
  19. Bath, UK
  20. Aalborg, Denmark
  21. Wiesbaden, Germany
  22. Trieste, Italy
  23. Haarlem, Netherlands
  24. Annapolis, USA
  25. Salzburg, Austria

According to Monocle, the new ranking responds to an evolving global society where technology has freed a generation to run their businesses and lives from second- and third-tier cities. People are also increasingly seeking the quality of life available in compact cities; many people feel priced out of capitals and small cities have invested in culture, architecture and education to become key centres for manufacturing, technology and learning.

“Having established a strong franchise with the annual Monocle quality-of-life ranking, we felt that it was time to measure liveability in smaller-scale cities that were hard to put in the same league as cities like Tokyo or Vancouver,” says Monocle Editor-in-Chief, Tyler Brûlé.

“We kept noticing that our readers were moving to the likes of Porto and Boulder and creating busy, better lives for themselves. This survey shows why people are voting with their feet and ambitions,” added Monocle Editor, Andrew Tuck.

The ranking was compiled by Monocle’s correspondents, editors and researchers analysing elements such as the quality of public transport, rail and air connections, lively metabolism and progressive local government, among other metrics.


See more travel trends here.

The Peninsula Paris Unveils Rooftop Ice Rink

The Peninsula Paris - Ice Rink
The Peninsula Paris - Ice Rink

…but it’s not for everyone. The incredible rooftop ice rink is accessible only by guests staying in the hotel’s Katara Suite

The Peninsula Paris is heralding in the Yuletide cheer with the launch of a winter wonderland replete with kids’ baking classes, a life-size gingerbread house, and a terrace totally transformed into a magical scene straight out of a Christmas story.

Grown-up guests can spend a cosy wintery afternoon in the hotel’s gigantic festive Yurt while enjoying mulled wine, hot chocolate and festive sweets, or an array of fine French treats, such as foie gras, oysters, salmon and caviar; all of which are complemented by a range of fine wines and Champagne.

In addition, each restaurant within The Peninsula Paris will offer special lunches, dinners and brunches on the 24th and 25th of December, before welcoming in the New Year with joyous festivities.

But the pinnacle of the celebrations has got to be that sky-high ice skating rink, located on the Katara Suite’s rooftop terrace. Guests staying in this suite can enjoy exclusive use of the rink, while admiring the breathtaking panoramic views of Paris, surrounded by a winter garden.

Talk about getting into the festive cheer.

2020 is the Year of Scotland: Here’s What to Expect

Tom Morris & Rick Roser, Year of Scotland in Australia Launch
Tom Morris & Rick Roser, Year of Scotland in Australia Launch

For starters, 150 performances throughout Australia during the first three months of 2020…

Music lovers, this one’s for you. 2020 marks The Year of Scotland, when the largest showcase of traditional Scottish music and heritage will take place throughout Australia.

Taking place over 12 months from December 31st 2019 until and including December 31st 2020, hundreds of performances of Scotland’s finest Traditional, Gaelic and Celtic musicians will take the stage. In just the first three months between January and March 2020 there will be 150 performances at over 70 festivals and venues in more than 60 towns and cities.

The year-long festival is backed by Creative Scotland, VisitScotland, The Scottish Government and The Glenturret whisky, with the working partnership’s goal to create demand for continued Scottish performances beyond 2020, and encourage more Australians to visit Scotland.

“The Year of Scotland in Australia is a phenomenal opportunity to further Scotland’s enduring relationship with Australia, with musicians from both sides of the globe sharing our dynamic traditional music scene,” said Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs. “With this shared investment, festival visitors will be introduced to our music, heritage and culture.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland added: “Australians have a close affinity to Scotland and its reflected in the huge and increasing numbers who travel to our shores each year. The Year of Scotland in Australia is a fantastic way for our friends here to sample Scotland’s vibrant arts, music and cultural scene and maybe provide that spark of inspiration for those yet to visit and experience it for themselves.

“More than 119,000 Australian residents were born in Scotland, while over two million claim Scottish ancestry, underlining the genuine shared heritage between our two nations. This program of events will showcase some of the best of Scottish talent and is an ideal way to celebrate that strong and long-standing bond.”

With many more to be announced in the New Year, the program already features the world-renowned Capercaillie, alongside Elephant Sessions and multi-award winning Breabach, as well as Moishe’s BagelRuraThe LanganbandThe Jellymans Daughter, and rising stars such as Brìghde ChaimbeulFara, and Siobhan Miller.

Many of the acts have strong roots in their cultural heritage whilst also drawing upon other musical genres such as rock, jazz, classical and pop.  This diversity in music will showcase the Scotland’s living tradition–contemporary, confident and hugely appealing to audiences at home and abroad. 

From The Glenturret Burns Night Supper on January 25, during which Scottish tradition will meet Australian Indigenous culture at Sydney’s Opera House, and a 27-date Scottish Towns and Grand Houses circuit across the country in conjunction with the National Trust, through to the Brigadoon Highland Games, a local version of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Woodford Folk Festival Hogmanay on 31 December, The Year of Scotland in Australia will bring a variety of Scottish culture and heritage to Australian audiences.  The Year also aims to highlight the ongoing work of Australian-based organisations who maintain Scottish tradition and culture through annual presentation of their own Burns Nights, Games, Ceilidhs, Clan Gatherings and festivals.

Creative Scotland’s Head of Music, Alan Morrison, said: “Scotland’s folk and trad music is some of the best in the world, and we’re delighted to have an unprecedented opportunity to share it with our friends in Australia.

“This year-long celebration of Scottish heritage will resonate with Australian audiences whose family roots go deep into Scottish soil but also with anyone who simply enjoys good music played brilliantly by world-class artists.”

First Look at Empire State Building’s Epic Observatory

Empire State Building Observatory Scenes of NYC
Empire State Building Observatory Scenes of NYC

Take a first look inside the new 80th floor at The Empire State Building Observatory after a recently completed four-year, $165 Million redevelopment project

The Empire State Building Observatory (ESBO) atop ‘The World’s Most Famous Building’ in New York City has opened its sky-high 80th floor after an extensive $165 million-dollar redevelopment. 

New on the 80th floor is an exclusive, interactive partnership with NYC & Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership bureau for New York City, with five interactive video blades that allow visitors to design itineraries for their visit using a massive inventory of destinations in all five boroughs. The itineraries automatically download to a visitor’s phone with the use of a QR Code reader or can be sent via e-mail. This was designed in response to research that showed ESBO is many visitors first destination.

Interactive, augmented reality scenes from New York City, housed inside classic binoculars, bring visitors directly to the sights and sounds of popular destinations. Other exhibits include videos of Empire State Building’s light shows with interviews with the lighting designer Marc Brickman, user generated content and famous British memory artist Steven Wiltshire’s monumental skyline of New York City.

80th Floor exhibits Include:

  • NYC: Above and Beyond: This exhibit, created in partnership with NYC & Company, encourages visitors to create a personalised trip itinerary from the top of the Empire State Building – often their first stop in New York City. After answering questions about their interests and the length of their stay, they can assemble a personalised list of recommendations for attractions and sites throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Guests can then obtain their customised itinerary via e-mail or scanned by QR code directly to the visitors’ handheld devices for future reference.
  • Artistry in Light: Ever wonder how the Empire State Building’s music-to-light shows are created? The Artistry in Light exhibit features a short film narrated by world-renowned lighting designer Marc Brickman. The film features highlights from his designs, such as the first ever music-to-light show with Alicia Keys in 2012, and a holiday light show synced to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You.”
  • Stephen Wiltshire’s Drawing: In 2017, famed British artist Stephen Wiltshire took a 45-minute helicopter ride above Manhattan. He then drew an incredibly detailed landscape drawing of New York City, while in residence on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building, completely from memory. A three-minute film documents his process, from the 45-minute helicopter ride to the four days in which he created the original piece of art.
  • Scenes of NYC: Through Empire State Building’s classic viewfinders, visitors can check out panoramic views of nine different famed New York locations from the 80th floor. From Times Square to Coney Island, visitors get an up-close look (and even a glance inside) at places they can spot from the building’s 86th and 102nd floor observation decks.
  • Showtime Pictures: Excited to see the photos taken in front of the green screen on the 2nd floor? The pictures are captured from 25 different angles utilising 25 different HD cameras to create an immersive experience to tell a visual narrative. The new location for pick up has been redesigned with facial recognition technology, to speed the retrieval and purchase process through self-serviced kiosks.
  • Share Your Experience: As visitors enter the exit queue, they are encouraged to share their pictures on their social media platforms by four screens that create mosaic shadows of each visitor with images shared by other guests that use the hashtag #empirestatebuilding.

“What began with the new Observatory entrance opening in August 2018 is now as we intended – a fully educational and immersive journey which connects visitors from around the world to their emotional connections to the World’s Most Famous Building and helps them design their entire visit to New York City from the centre of it all. The completed Empire State Observatory elevates our Guests’ experience, from out new entrance to the dramatic and exciting new 102nd floor,” said Anthony E. Malkin, Chairman and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust. “At 88 years young, the Empire State Building remains the icon of innovation, aspirations, and dreams, and the vibrant ancestor of all tall buildings around the world.”

Tickets to the 86th floor Observatory start at $38 USD with tickets to the 102nd floor Observatory available for an additional $20 USD. Tickets are available online or in real time on-site at kiosks located on the second and 86th floor.

Nature Fights Back as Reefs Recover in the Maldives

Snorkelling above reefs

A research group has found that corals in the Maldives are showing some resilience, adaptability and even recovery from climate change effects

Biosphere Expeditions, the Marine Conservation Society, Reef Check Maldives and local Maldives environmental group, Save the Beach Maldives has found, against expectations, that corals are showing some resilience, adaptability and even recovery from climate change effects. The collective group recently returned from a 250 kilometre expedition around the central Maldives, the ninth annual survey of its kind sine 2010.

Expedition scientist and co-author of the paper showing the group’s findings, Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt, said he and his team of citizen scientists found many baby (less than 1 year) and young corals (1-3 years), as well as different species of corals growing vigorously at sites that we expected to be dead or dying: “It was surprising and encouraging to see a greater diversity of corals pushing through from the dead layer below. It seems nature is fighting back with a coral diversity explosion. We have seen resilience, adaptability and recovery this year,” Solandt explained.

The encouraging findings come after two years of little coral recovery in the region, following the 2016 coral bleaching event that killed off large swathes of reefs. One of the outstanding sites regularly visited by the annual Biosphere Expeditions surveys, ‘Rasdhoo Madivaru’, was also recently declared a Marine Protected Area, being both resilient to the worst bleaching effects, and harbouring large megafauna such as sharks, manta rays, turtles and Napoleon wrasse. “Our expeditions have highlighted this site for the past nine years, as being of extraordinary biodiversity value,” concluded Solandt.

However, Dr. Solandt added it’s not all plain sailing for the paradisiacal destination’s marine ecosystem. “Many reefs are still very badly affected and some have died altogether. And another temperature spike would kill many of the new corals we’ve seen. Also, some small corals that had settled on the reef in the last year, which we thought were resistant to bleaching, were now bleached, but the larger ones seem okay. Finally, the background temperature is still ‘hot’ at the bleaching threshold of 30 degrees celsius in very shallow water.”

Hussein Zahir, head of LaMer, one of the expedition’s local partner organisations, added that the recent change in government in the Maldives is another cause for optimism, noting that the government has indicated that it “understands the close link between oceans, climate change and the wellbeing of communities. This is a good start, as is the establishment of a National Research Institute that includes environment, health and social issues – a sort of think-tank and an infrastructure for science-based knowledge and understanding of the issue. And apparently the income from the Green Tax that has been levied on the tourism sector, will now be spent exclusively on the environment,” he said.

Further surveys will be carried out by local organisations Save the Beach Maldives and Reef Check Maldives, who will also train more local divers to survey their own reefs in the future and set up more community-based reef conservation efforts. The Biosphere Expeditions annual survey will return to the Maldives in August next year.

An Investigation into Sustainable Travel
As global tourism booms at an unprecedented rate, the environment is straining under the pressure leaving many of us wondering, are we loving our planet to death? We take a deep dive into the green revolution and the travel brands committed to change.