The Fullerton Hotel Sydney On Track for October Opening

The Fullerton Hotel Sydney facade
The Fullerton Hotel Sydney facade

The first Fullerton to open outside of Singapore, the upcoming Sydney hotel is set to bring historic elegance to the heart of the Harbour City

The Fullerton Hotel Sydney at the iconic No. 1 Martin Place will have its grand opening on 18th October 2019,  after 20 years as The Westin Sydney under Marriott management. The city’s newest luxury heritage hotel, The Fullerton Hotel Sydney will be the sister property of the beautifully restored Fullerton Hotel Singapore, with both hotels historic, former General Post Office (GPO) buildings. In the lead-up to its launch, the Sydney landmark building has been undergoing remediation works on its façade, which are expected to be completed in time for the official opening in October. The Fullerton Hotel Sydney is the brand’s first international expansion outside of the Lion City.

Prominently located in Martin Place, The Fullerton Hotel Sydney is minutes away from the city’s thriving cultural and arts precincts, retail centres, dining destinations and boutique bar scenes. Iconic landmarks such as The Sydney Opera House, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Contemporary Art and the historic Rocks district can all be reached in under 15 minutes by foot.

The Sydney debut will additionally boast a bespoke program that allows guests to discover a different side of the city they are in, through a range of guided activities, excursions and experiences – including heritage tours – as well as community events.

“Starting from opening weekend, The Fullerton Hotel Sydney will offer complimentary heritage tours for hotel guests and the public,” said Cavaliere Giovanni Viterale, General Manager of The Fullerton Heritage. “We plan to share the building’s fascinating history, which spans the hallowed hallways of the heritage building to the ornamental carvings on the façade. We want to tell the tales of early Sydney, where the building dominated the Sydney skyline, and bring the building’s soul and historical significance to life.”

The Fullerton brand is also committed to implementing corporate social responsibility programs and will implement an extension of Singapore’s Fullerton Academy at its Sydney branch. This staff volunteerism programme “provides hands-on mentoring and training for underprivileged teens,” according to Viterale. Fullerton has also signed a Plastic ACTion commitment (PACT) agreement with the World Wildlife Fund to reduce a significant amount of single-use plastic by 2020. This includes the elimination of plastic straws and plastic bags, as well as the use of an in-room tablet that provides a digital concierge service. At the touch of a button, guests will be able to place a dinner reservation, book a spa treatment, schedule a taxi or arrange a laundry pick-up service.

 

the-fullerton-hotel-sydney.com

Australia’s Best Paddock-to-Plate Restaurants

Solander, West Hotel, Sydney
Solander, West Hotel, Sydney

Fuelled by local producers and the freshest ingredients, these ten Australian restaurants treat diners to scrumptious cuisine with a conscience

For the past decade, chefs and restaurateurs around the world have been placing greater value on sourcing local and seasonal produce, reducing carbon emissions, minimising waste, supporting sustainable practice by farmers, producers and wine-makers and participating in the local community. This is even more the case in Australia.

More and more diners have simultaneously developed the same goals, wanting to support restaurants with high standards of ethics, integrity and sustainability – while still offering great food, wine and good times.

As celebrated Australian food writer, restaurant critic and cookbook author Jill Dupleix said on the release of her book Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, which outlines the world’s most exemplary, organic, sustainable, and ethical restaurants:

“We value good food and good friends. We value time over money, community over celebrity and empathy over ego. We value the seasons and the rhythm of nature, and people who work with them rather than against them. And we value being able to dine together and to work together to shape the world we live in.”

And the following restaurants tend to agree. From quaint bistro settings to refined fine dining, these eateries are not only ethical and sustainable, but undoubtedly delicious, too.

Solander

CBD, Sydney

One year since its official opening, Solander Dining and Bar has enriched and refined its menu, with its balanced flora and fauna approach. The menu pays homage to its namesake – Daniel Solander, a London-based Swedish botanist who was integral to the early documentation and collection of Australian plants. Along with sustainable meat and seafood options, there are additional options for those with restricted diets. Signature menu items include slow-cooked wallaby shanks accompanied by wattle seed and a rich macadamia crumble-style crème, house-made banksia and acacia pot-bread flavoured using foraged native flowers. Solander is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cocktails served from midday until late.

www.solanderdiningandbar.com.au

Gin-Cured Salmon at Solander, West Hotel, Sydney
Gin-Cured Salmon at Solander, West Hotel, Sydney

Three Blue Ducks

Sydney, Rosebery, Byron Bay and Brisbane

This Bronte eatery is all about the produce and the people. It launched in 2011 and is equipped with a kitchen garden, rooftop solar-power system, focus on Fairtrade, organic and local produce – and a legendary avocado on toast. Since then, it has expanded to three additional locations. The Byron branch in particular houses animals, chooks and beehives on eighty-five acres of farm and market gardens; turns rainwater into sparkling water for guests; offers fifty-six taps to reduce bottle waste and has installed milk-dispensing Jugglers to reduce needless milk packaging. The food itself – with standouts like a kingfish poke bowl, coal-roasted lamb and a farm-grown salad – is simple, fast, fresh and undoubtedly flavourful. Three Blue Ducks is open for breakfast and lunch daily, as well as dinner from Wednesday to Saturday.

threeblueducks.com

Three Blue Ducks
Three Blue Ducks

Peel Street

Adelaide, SA

Peel Street is colourful and casual with the kitchen open for all to see and a long polished concrete bar in the front. Chefs Jordan Theodorous and Martin Corcoran dispense full-flavoured dishes that are strongly Mediterranean but with a healthy dash of Middle Eastern energy and the occasional Asian spice. The menu is displayed on a blackboard in order to make timely changes in sync with the season and their vegetable and community gardens. The always-fresh fusion cuisine includes a banana blossom salad, Spencer Gulf prawns, a hefty Coorong mullet and a yogurt, fruit and nut Persian delight. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday, with dinner service on Monday and Wednesday to Saturday.

peelst.com.au

Peel Street, Adelaide
Peel Street, Adelaide

NOMAD

Surry Hills, Sydney

While the outside screams Brooklyn warehouse, the interior and menu of NOMAD proudly showcases Sydney and its surrounds. Charcuterie and other hero ingredients are made right on site, while Chef Jacqui Challinor’s menu taps into local producers only, such as Melanda Park Pork and Willowbrae Chevre Cheese. The sustainable focus extends to the use of Blackheath Firewood, recycling of used cooking oil into biofuel and the careful separation of waste. Wine is a focus here, the list celebrating biodynamic farming, minimal intervention and small-scale Australian producers. The food however, which boasts house-made Jersey milk halloumi, a David Blackmore 9+ Wagyu tongue and a glazed Fremantle octopus, is the real selling point. NOMAD serves lunch Wednesday to Saturday and dinner from Monday to Saturday.

nomadwine.com.au

NOMAD, Surry Hills, Sydney
NOMAD, Surry Hills, Sydney

A Tiny Place

Battery Point, TAS

This accurately-named French bistro may be small, but has flavours that rival some of Australia’s largest and most well-known sustainable eateries. Founder and Chef Philippe Leban serves French-inspired, Tasmanian-sourced cooking that is designed to not only please but showcase overlooked vegetables. Locally grown organic leeks, for instance, are served roasted, with foraged pickled slippery jacks, cauliflower purée, turnip and soy jelly, to deliciously spotlight a deeply neglected vegetable. Leban pulls from local resources, such as fisher Mark Eather, to make his surrounding produce the star. In addition to the vegetarian creations, test out a Tasmania scallop pudding or a steamed Ray’s bream with a fruity twist. The unique, cottage-like restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

atinyplacecafe.net

A Tiny Place, Battery Point | Photo by essentialsmagazine.com.au
A Tiny Place, Battery Point | Photo by essentialsmagazine.com.au

Appellation

Barossa Valley, SA

Barossa-born top Chefs Daniel Murphy and Emily Murphy showcase their region in the best way possible, producing world-class, regionally-inspired dining. This serenely-relaxed restaurant has vineyard views and resides in The Louise, one of Australia’s most luxurious regional resorts. The menu serves free-range pork and an award-winning wine list – two Australian dining must-haves – in addition to Japanese and Korean flavours, such as house-made miso and kimchi. Guests can indulge in a pork neck with fermented vegetables, roasted baby fennel with an Asian twist, a quince with marzipan and honey and so much more amidst breathtaking views. Appellation serves its sumptuous fare for dinner Tuesday through Friday.

thelouise.com.au/dine

The terrace at Appelation, The Louise, Barossa Valley
The terrace at Appelation, The Louise, Barossa Valley

Captain Moonlite

Angelsea, VIC

Offering seaside dining at its finest, Captain Moonlite lies in a real, active Surf Life Saving club and treats guests to stunning wave views. Chef Matt Germanchis has created a delectable seafood menu, from a fremantle octopus served with a side of potato cake to a prawn-and-seaweed cracker to a best-in-show fish and chips, while the surrounding community works to ensure the Anglesea inhabitants’ well being. In addition to a ban on plastic straws, the restaurant supports local organic suppliers such as Kinsfolk Farm. Those who prefer their fish in the water can additionally indulge in non-seafood dishes, such as a toasty, beetroot-capped saganaki or a lamb souvlaki. Dining starts with breakfast and lunch from Friday to Monday and ends with dinner from Thursday through Sunday.

captainmoonlite.com.au

Captain Moonlite, Anglesea, VIC
Captain Moonlite, Anglesea, VIC

Liberté

Albany, WA

This aesthetically-pleasing bar invokes feelings of a grand bistro in Paris, yet promotes the produce of the Great Southern region in the most flavourful way possible. Founder Amy Hamilton’s love for her region shines with locally-produced seafood dishes and Western Australian inflections that pull from France and Vietnam.  The bar is as equally impressive; Bar manager Keryn Gills creates cocktails in line with the changing seasons, inventing drinkable creations as she goes. If the cured Australian salmon or the sheep’s yoghurt mousse don’t convince you, an entertaining programme of themed nights and events dot the hangout, making it ideal for a relaxing night with friends. Lunch and dinner are served Monday to Saturday.

libertealbany.com.au

Liberté, Albany, WA
Liberté, Albany, WA

Bucci

Brisbane, QLD

Although owners Shaun and Tanja Malone may not hail from Italy, the cuisine speaks otherwise. Much of the produce at Bucci comes from sustainable farms and the local market, while the pasta is made in-house and everything else is sourced as locally as possible. For instance, the truffled honey dressing on the explosively creamy burrata is made from honey harvested from hives in the street and the capesante con prezzemolo e aglio sources scallops from Hervey Bay. A smiling staff greets newbies and regulars alike, offering bowls of warm olives and bringing a Sicilian Sunday dinner down under. Order the linguine al granchio (spanner crab with chilli, parsley, and lemon) or the tagliatelle con cicale di mare (Moreton Bay bug) – you won’t be disappointed. Bucci serves its Italian fare for lunch and dinner daily.

buccijamesstreet.com.au

Bucci, Brisbane, QLD
Bucci, Brisbane, QLD

Pialligo Estate Garden Pavilions

Canberra, ACT

Following a fire that destroyed Pialligo’s Farmhouse Restaurant in 2017, the estate’s dedication to sustainable dining led to a new restaurant in four covered garden pavilions. Ingredients are sourced from both local suppliers and the estate’s own farmland, which includes a grove of 400 Coriggiola olive trees, a two-hectare market garden that dates back 100 years and a 1000-tree orchard fragrant with peaches and nectarines. This means that even the simplest dish – zucchini flowers stuffed with pumpkin and ricotta, perhaps – comes with the most delightful views. The smokehouse however, is another highlight; from an award-winning bacon to a signature charcuterie board, it is possibly the restaurant’s main attraction. Stop by for lunch or dinner Wednesday through Saturday, lunch on Sunday or a weekend breakfast.

thepialligoestate.com.au

Pialligo Estate Garden Pavilions, Canberra, ACT
Pialligo Estate Garden Pavilions, Canberra, ACT

One of Australia’s Original Glamping Retreats Turns 20

Paperbark Camp, Australia
Paperbark Camp, Australia

Paperbark Camp was one of the country’s first retreats to offer a bush camping experience with the added comforts of hot showers, modern decor and an upmarket restaurant

Paperbank Camp, Australia’s premiere glamping retreat, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a limited-time promotion for its glampers. From June 1st to August 31st, the timely Winter Woolly deal offers a 30 per cent saving on two nights’ accommodation in one of Paperbark’s elevated, luxurious glamping tents, as well as dinner and breakfast in the camp’s acclaimed Gunyah Restaurant, nestled amongst the tree tops. Children ages six to 12 can even stay and dine for half-price.

Boasting open campfires, luxury bedding, contemporary furnishings, free-standing bath tubs and hot showers, Paperbark Camp is perfect for any kind of winter getaway. The luxury, eco retreat has elevated safari tents with polished hardwood flooring, double canvas roofs, outdoor deck seating and private outdoor/indoor ensuites with premium toiletries. The raised tents are camouflaged amongst spotted gums and paperbark trees along the banks of Currambene Creek.

Just 2.5 hours south of Sydney, the campsite is a five-minute drive from the countless white sand beaches of Jervis Bay. The scenic walking trails nearby and surrounding bush are abundant with wildlife and offer sightings of kangaroos, possums, colourful birdlife, whales and dolphins.

The Winter Woolly package is available from $819 AUD per couple. The offer applies to stays starting on a Friday or Sunday during June, July and August, excluding the June long weekend. During winter, kids six to 12 can share the tent for just $35 per child per night, bringing the total saving to 50 percent. During the school holidays from July 5th through July 22, couples and families can stay any night of the week to take advantage of the discounted winter package.

 

www.paperbarkcamp.com.au

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

Sydney’s Hottest New Restaurants

Bopp & Tone, Sydney
Bopp & Tone, Sydney

On our must-visit list of Sydney restaurants for this year we feature a champagne parlour, a place serving up Australian fare with a Mediterranean twist and a restaurant where you let the chef decide what you eat…

It seems like every other day, a new, fabulous restaurant opens in Sydney. And not just any restaurant, but one led by a sensational chef cooking mouth-watering fare in an elegantly designed, plush interior. Sydney’s culinary scene is officially exploding and it’s giving Melbourne – long considered the culinary capital of Australia – a run for its money.

In 2019 we are seeing a host of new restaurants that have recently opened or will soon open their doors in the Harbour City, offering a range of delicious cuisines from experimental Asian fusion to modern Australian and traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. Think: a four-drink tasting flight of premiere French champagne, a personalised, chef’s-choice sushi session or even a berry and tea-infused crème brûlée.

Scattered across the city of Sydney from the CBD and the historic Rocks to Pyrmont, Australia’s most exciting and rapidly evolving food scene now has even more tasty morsels to offer. Now, who’s hungry?

Bopp & Tone

Bopp & Tone

Wynyard Park, CBD

This Sydney-made restaurant and bar marks the first CBD restaurant by renowned hospitality group Applejack. A tribute to the Applejack founders’ grandfathers, Keith ‘Bopp’ Evans and Anthony ‘Tone’ Adams, Bopp & Tone reflects the nostalgic and optimistic post-World War II era they lived in, with a lived-in luxury style accompanied by a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. Luxurious marble fills the space along with classic tiles and textures, dark timber furnishings, an alfresco dining terrace, a vintage-style bar, private dining room and Applejack’s signature injection of greenery – this time in the wrap-around terrace that creates a calming oasis in the city.

Head Chef Sa Va’afusuaga and Group Executive Chef Jason Roberson boast a relaxed yet elegant Australian menu with Mediterranean influences, where charcoal oven-cooked seafood and wood-grilled meats are the stars of the show. It’s refreshingly unfussy yet delicious dining that is made even the more enjoyable by the interior that nods to a golden and glamorous bygone era. This restaurant is one of our new favourites – be sure to check it out when you’re in the CBD.

boppandtone.com.au

Reign, Sydney

Reign

Location: Queen Victoria Building, CBD

It’s about time the Queen Victoria Building got a glamorous champagne bar, don’t you think? Recently opened Reign is a plush cocoon of a champagne parlour serving over 150 champagnes and sparkling wines alongside an array of light share-plates fit for a queen (or king). Set amongst lush marble, brass and soft musk tones, and framed by a Romanesque arch window overlooking Town Hall, guests can enjoy a tasting flight through France’s champagne region, or sip on an artisan cocktail.

For food, try a serving of pork fried rice with king brown mushrooms followed by a thyme-and-honey ice cream sandwich with plums. Open for lunch and dinner on weekdays and brunch through to dinner on weekends, Reign is the perfect spot to escape the daily grind and enjoy a quick bite, a longer lunch or dinner or a midnight feast at this late-night venue.

reignatqvb.com.au

Tayim, Sydney

Tayim

The Rocks

Operating since this past December, Tayim combines modern and traditional Middle Eastern cuisine in a beautiful, historic space in the rocks. Located within the Harbour Rocks Hotel, the bar-restaurant is backed by stunning sandstone interiors inspired by Middle Eastern cultures with low lighting that makes this haunt a hot contender for date night. Head Chef Ran Kim, former head chef of the award-winning Nour in Surry Hills, showcases the region’s most flavoursome dishes, including a signature hummus, a kangaroo kebab dish and a dukkah-seasoned rainbow trout, among other tasty treats. The restaurant also features a deli with breakfast options, salads, sandwiches – all with a Middle Eastern twist. Tayim focuses on bold, exotic share plates cooked using traditional methods on the open grill.

tayim.com.au

Esquire, Sydney

Esquire Drink + Dine

Queen Victoria Building, CBD

Just one floor up from Reign, Esquire is another beauty to have recently opened in Sydney’s historic Queen Victoria Building. A late-night bar and dining room reminiscent of a New York supper club, Esquire’s menu features reimagined modern-Australian comfort classics alongside an array of the world’s best spirits and hand-crafted cocktails. The restaurant boasts an old-world glamour setting with a dark oak bar framed with mosaic and parquetry flooring, soft leather seating and sensuous lowlights. Start at the bar and choose from a selection of 100-plus wines, whiskeys and cocktails on the menu then venture into crumbed sweetbreads, a gooey, yet crunchy gruyere jaffle, a two-course whole roast chicken for two or a 250g Grainge Signature MB3+ Rump Cap steak straight from the grill. For the indecisive, the chef’s table menu offers a taste of everything. What’s not to love?

esquireatqvb.com.au

The Star, Sydney

Chuuka

Pyrmont

The Star Sydney has recently announced the upcoming Chuuka, which will offer a blend of Japanese and Chinese cuisine. The restaurant will be replacing Flying Fish in Jones Bay Wharf, making it the first off-property restaurant venture for The Star. Chef Chase Kojima of The Star’s Sokyo and Kiyomi and Chef Victor Liong of Melbourne’s Lee Ho Fook will be converging the distinct flavours and techniques of both cuisines and featuring local produce. The two chefs’ first business venture together, Chuuka will feature a spectacular 130-seat dining area across two levels. The ground floor will host a 60-seat dining space, with an indulgent wine room and an outdoor bar area with panoramic views across the harbour. The first floor of the restaurant will also be home to a private dining area catering to 70 guests. The Asian fusion restaurant is expected to open July of this year.

star.com.au/sydney

Eliza, Sydney

eliza Food & Wine

Darlinghurst

Jeremy Bentley, founder and former head chef of Surry Hills’ The Devonshire, has recently launched his next culinary endeavour. Eliza delivers modern cuisine, complemented by a sophisticated wine and cocktail list in an open and stylish venue. The menu, which includes a 12-hour lamb shoulder dish, miso-roasted eggplant and a ‘very berry tea’ brûlée,  has a strong emphasis on approachable food and contemporary cooking rooted in classic technique. The stylish newcomer boasts a pastel-themed interior and natural wood furnishings in a sleek but relaxed atmosphere. Named after Governor Darling’s popular wife, Eliza follows Bentley’s nearly year-long period of experimentation where he travelled throughout the world trying different restaurants and meeting with chefs and suppliers.

elizafoodandwine.com

The Campbell's Stores Building Construction Plan
The Campbell's Stores Building Construction Plan

Ura San

The Rocks

Slotted for mid-2019, Ura San is an upcoming Japanese restaurant that will be one of the many businesses involved in the $30-million makeover to the Campbell’s Stores Building in The Rocks. The menu will focus on nigiri – cuts of raw fish over rice – and omakase, which is a “chef’s choice” or degustation-styled menu chosen by the chef. Head Chef Nobuyuki Ura, former head chef of Sushi E in the CBD, has more than 35 years of culinary experience and will be using traditional and modern techniques, accompanied by a team of sushi masters. In addition to a curated cocktail list by Ura, an extensive range of sake and Japanese whisky will be offered.  The waterfront locations provides guests with a view of the harbour in an interior inspired by traditional Japanese design principles.

urasan.com.au

 

Discover Sydney’s most romantic dining options here.

Silversea’s Silver Muse Sails into Sydney

By Staff Writer

Luxury cruise line, Silversea Cruises’ iconic flagship, Silver Muse, arrived in Sydney on Sunday, 6th January for the first time.

The newest ship in Silversea’s fleet and widely regarded as one of the most luxurious boutique cruise ships in the world, Silver Muse’s sailing into Sydney Harbour on Sunday marked the first time in a decade that Silversea has brought one of its new vessels to Australia.

“Welcoming Silver Muse to Australia and New Zealand is very special and something we have been eagerly anticipating for some time now,” said Adam Armstrong, Managing Director – Australia and New Zealand, Silversea Cruises. “As the newest, most spacious and most luxurious ship to call Australia home this year, her deployment reflects our strong commitment to the local market and we are absolutely delighted that Silver Muse will return again next summer for an expanded season.”

Roberto Martinoli, Chief Executive, and Barbara Muckermann, Chief Marketing Officer at Silversea in Monaco, were also in attendance at Sydney Harbour to celebrate the arrival of Silver Muse.

Following her arrival in Darwin on 26th December 2018, guests aboard Silver Muse visited multiple Australian maiden ports of call down the east coast of Australia on the journey towards Sydney, including Cairns, Townsville, the Whitsunday Islands and Brisbane.

The 596-guest all-suite vessel is targeted at the world’s most discerning travellers, promising absolute levels of comfort, service and quality. On board, guests experience enhanced small-ship intimacy, spacious all suite accommodations, expansive outdoor spaces and the most comprehensive choice of dining options at sea with eight venues, including specialty choices such as Kaiseki and Indochine, plus 24-hour complimentary dining options throughout the ship. All suites also have butler service.

After a brief overnight stay in Sydney, Silver Muse departed the harbour city yesterday for a 14-night cruise to Tasmania and New Zealand, culminating in a maiden visit to Auckland on 19th January 2019. After offering a number of sailings between Australia and New Zealand, Silver Muse will depart for her 74-day Grand Asia Pacific Voyage from Sydney to Tokyo and then commence her maiden season of Alaska cruises. Silver Muse will return to Sydney in 2019/20 and stay for over four months (late November to end of March) – twice the length of the current season.

 

For more information on Silver Muse itineraries and bookings visit silversea.com

Fiji Likuliku Lagoon Resort

‘The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built’ to Sail Australia and New Zealand in 2020/21

By Staff Writer

Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) has announced that Seven Seas Explorer, trademarked as The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built, will sail around Australia and New Zealand as part of her 2020/21 season for the first time since debuting in 2016.

Seven Seas Explorer will enter Australian waters for the first time on the 28th December 2020, visiting Darwin before she sails down to Sydney on the 6th January 2021. All up, nine entirely all-inclusive itineraries exploring regional waters throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia and The South Pacific from November 2020 until April 2021 will be on offer, with several of the voyages departing from or disembarking in Sydney during her inaugural local season.

These include the 17-night Singapore to Sydney ‘Balinese Celebration’ sailing; the 15-night Sydney to Auckland ‘Majesty of Milford’ cruise; the 14-night Auckland to Sydney ‘Grandeur of New Zealand’ sailing; the 18-night Sydney to Bali ‘Koalas to Komodos’ cruise; and a 15-night sailing from Bali to Hong Kong on the ‘Radiance Of Thailand’ cruise. Select sailings also offer a free three-night pre- or post-cruise land program to deliver guests an even more immersive experience.

With over USD $450 million spent on building the exclusive, 375 suite ship, the Vice President of Sales, Australia & New Zealand at Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Lisa Pile, said Seven Seas Explorer was built “for the 1-percenters. With no expense spared, every detail was meant to create an everlasting impression on her guests.”

To that end, the ship features over an acre of marble, an almost unfathomable US$7 million art collection, and one of the biggest suites at sea.

“We are incredibly excited to be able to share her unrivalled elegance with local Australian and New Zealand travellers as part of her inaugural season, and to give them a taste of what a truly all-inclusive, luxury cruise ship offers.”

Pile added that among the things that set Seven Seas Explorer apart from the droves of other cruise liners at sea is her spacious, all-balcony and all-suite accommodation, free gourmet dining across all her restaurants, free fine wines and premium spirits, free unlimited shore excursions in every port of call – and a near one-to-one staff-to-guest ratio so guests can expect unrivalled personalised service – all of which are included in Regent’s all-inclusive fare.

Seven Seas Explorer’s suites feature top of the line European beds, marble bathrooms, luxury amenities from L’Occitane, Bvlgari, Guerlain and Hermes, some of the biggest verandas at sea and a mini-bar that is replenished daily, free-of-charge.

And as the absolute pinnacle is the Regent Suite, which features two bedrooms, a living room and a dining room, 2 rare Picasso lithographs, a USD $250,000 custom Steinway piano designed by Dakota Jackson, an in-suite spa retreat – including heated tile loungers, sauna, and a hot tub on the veranda – unlimited in-suite treatments from the ship’s Canyon Ranch spa and a private car with driver in every port.

Guests are free to choose from one of the ship’s seven on-board speciality restaurants on a whim, each and every day, with no additional cover charges. From laidback al fresco lunches at the Pool Grill and succulent steaks in the sophisticated Prime 7, to the zen-like surrounds of Pan-Asian newcomer Pacific Rim and more.

Those looking to sharpen their skills in the kitchen also have the chance to learn from top chefs in Seven Seas Explorer’s exclusive Culinary Arts Kitchen – a new onboard offering for RSSC – or savour the authentic local flavours onshore during one of the bespoke Gourmet Explorer Tours. RSSC is also the only cruise line offering unlimited shore excursions in every port.

For more information on Seven Seas Explorer’s Australasian itineraries, visit:  www.rssc.com/explorer2020-21

Review: Seabourn Encore

By Lucy Jones

There are few sounds more appealing than the popping of a champagne cork, which made my week on board Seabourn Encore a particularly delightful experience. I lost count of the popping corks early, but barely 20 minutes would go by without the celebratory sound. This is indicative of the ship; one on which you’d feel practically naked walking the decks without a glass of chilled Nicolas Feuillatte in hand.

I’ve joined Seabourn’s brand new vessel in Sydney, where she launched her maiden voyage in March of 2016. It’s quite a coup for Australia to be the first port of call for a luxury launch, which tend to head straight for the more traditional markets of the Mediterranean or Caribbean. Right now, Encore is arguably the most luxurious ship in the world and she looks suitably striking parked right by the Sydney Opera House.

The ship is largely flawless. Bright, airy and spacious; famed hotel and restaurant designer Adam D Tihany is behind the aesthetic and he’s worked hard to make it feel more like a private yacht than a commercial cruise ship. It’s sleek and sexy with sculptural staircases and chandeliers plus a remarkable on-board art collection.

There are just 300 Verandah Suites, starting at a very roomy 34 square metres and ranging up to the huge Wintergarden Suites that, at more than 100 square metres, are about the same size as my two-bedroom apartment (though considerably more stylish). TVs are loaded with a great selection of movies and series (perfect for binge watching). The bathroom is enormous with a separate shower and tub, double vanity and plenty of storage space.

Encore’s hub is Seabourn Square, a hybrid lobby/living room/library as well as the ship’s one really good coffee bar. It takes the place of the traditional customer service desk and is a much more user-friendly space to ask questions or book shore excursions. The main swimming pool is pleasantly deep and there are rarely more than a handful of swimmers. I’m assured there are many more deckchairs than passengers, so it’s always easy to find a place to recline. I come to favour the comfy double day beds, well-stocked with cushions, for my daily catnap.

Tihany has gone a bit wild in the spa, a gleaming futuristic space that looks like the flight deck of a spaceship. Seabourn has partnered with wellness guru Dr Andrew Weil to create a holistic program overseen by a Wellness Guide, the first of its kind at sea. There are daily yoga and meditation classes and, while I have good intentions, somehow I don’t make it for any of the 7am starts. There’s the usual menu of treatments plus a few interesting extras, such as a sound bath with humming Tibetan crystal bowls.

Then there’s the food. Seabourn has partnered with American celebrity chef Thomas Keller to launch The Grill, its new signature restaurant. The dining room is dark and clubby, the menu a modern twist on classic 1970s steakhouse fare. In keeping with the theme, I order crab cakes, lobster thermidor and an enormous ice cream sundae prepared right at the table.

Encore is also home to the line’s first standalone sushi restaurant (called, simply, Sushi) that’s so good I eat there two nights in a row. There’s a different themed dinner held each night in The Colonnade (which operates as the buffet during the day) and it’s excellent the night I attend. As with all Seabourn ships, all dining and drinks (excluding some top shelf stuff) is included in the fare.

Our first port of call, Mooloolaba, is cancelled due to rough weather. And I can’t say I’m disappointed. The real story here is the ship and I soon feel I would be happy enough never to set foot on dry land again. Cruising through the Whitsundays, we drop anchor right beside Hamilton Island. Surrounded by the curved green backs of the islands and with seemingly doll-sized sailboats bobbing about beside us, it must be the prettiest cruise port in the country. I jump aboard a Zodiac and zip out to Sawmill Bay for one of the line’s custom Ventures by Seabourn shore excursions. The program focuses on active excursions led by members of the expert expedition team; a good way to burn off a few of those champagne calories.

The highlight of the voyage is the Champagne and Caviar evening, one of Seabourn’s signature events. The ship’s singers perform opera on the main deck as we sail away from Hamilton Island at sunset, and it’s exceptional. These are genuine word-class performers, far above the usual ‘cruise ship cabaret’ fare, and even an operatic philistine like me is moved. The ship also hosts a new show from Broadway legend Tim Rice, featuring songs from shows such as The Lion King, Aladdin, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and Evita. Sadly, it’s not performed during my leg of the journey and I don’t get the opportunity to wow everyone with my rendition of ‘Hakuna Matata’.

Cruising through the Whitsundays, we drop anchor right beside Hamilton Island. Surrounded by the curved green backs of the islands and with seemingly doll-sized sailboats bobbing about beside us, it must be the prettiest cruise port in the country.

I spend one day in the private confines of The Retreat, an exclusive adults-only area on deck 12 that’s making its debut on Encore. It is Tihany’s favourite space and the man has good taste. Fifteen cabanas circle a large central hot tub, each with sun loungers, a TV, mini bar and couch. The house pour is Bollinger, which, it turns out, is the ideal breakfast champagne (if you like that sort of thing). A day at The Retreat will set you back an additional US$249 (about A$330) on port days or US$349 (about A$462) on sea days, which is potentially why it remains largely empty during the voyage. It’s a shame, because it really is divine, but Seabourn might need to rethink how it operates.

This isn’t the only problem that crops up. If the outdoor section is closed, there isn’t enough seating in The Colonnade buffet (unless you like to sit with strangers, which I do not). Cabin lighting is unnecessarily complicated. One night, after at least 20 minutes of frustrated flickering, I throw a towel over a lamp that remains stubbornly inextinguishable. There are also few hiccups in the famed Seabourn service that don’t go unnoticed.

I spoke with other passengers who had sailed with the line for close to 100 days and they felt it wasn’t up to the usual standard. Service around the pool was often slow (or non-existent) and a particularly surly waiter left a bad taste in my mouth. But the service improved considerably as the voyage continued. With just a handful of sailings under its bow, Encore is a new ship and is considerably larger than others in the Seabourn fleet, so I’m happy to chalk these up to teething issues. Especially considering the experiences at the other end of the spectrum.

One night, as I’m walking back to my cabin, a man calls me over to the railing. A pod of dolphins are frolicking in the bow waves, their slick silver bodies visible just under the surface. They race along beside the ship for a magical half hour, leaping over the breaking waves and tumbling underneath the foam. It seems everyone wants a piece of Encore.

 

seabourn.com

Review: Seabourn Encore

By Lucy Jones

There are few sounds more appealing than the popping of a champagne cork, which made my week on board Seabourn Encore a particularly delightful experience. I lost count of the popping corks early, but barely 20 minutes would go by without the celebratory sound. This is indicative of the ship; one on which you’d feel practically naked walking the decks without a glass of chilled Nicolas Feuillatte in hand.

I’ve joined Seabourn’s vessel in Sydney, where she launched her maiden voyage in March of 2016. It’s quite a coup for Australia to be the first port of call for a luxury launch, which tend to head straight for the more traditional markets of the Mediterranean or Caribbean. Right now, Encore is arguably the most luxurious ship in the world and she looks suitably striking parked right by the Sydney Opera House.

The ship is largely flawless. Bright, airy, and spacious, famed hotel and restaurant designer Adam D Tihany is behind the aesthetic and he’s worked hard to make it feel more like a private yacht than a commercial cruise ship. It’s sleek and sexy with sculptural staircases and chandeliers plus a remarkable on-board art collection.

There are just 300 Verandah Suites, starting at a very roomy 34 square metres and ranging up to the huge Wintergarden Suites that, at more than 100 square metres, are about the same size as my two-bedroom apartment (though considerably more stylish). TVs are loaded with a great selection of movies and series (perfect for binge watching). The bathroom is enormous with a separate shower and tub, double vanity and plenty of storage space.

Encore’s hub is Seabourn Square, a hybrid lobby/living room/library as well as the ship’s one really good coffee bar. It takes the place of the traditional customer service desk and is a much more user-friendly space to ask questions or book shore excursions. The main swimming pool is pleasantly deep and there are rarely more than a handful of swimmers. I’m assured there are many more deckchairs than passengers, so it’s always easy to find a place to recline. I come to favour the comfy double day beds, well-stocked with cushions, for my daily catnap.

Tihany has gone a bit wild in the spa, a gleaming futuristic space that looks like the flight deck of a spaceship. Seabourn has partnered with wellness guru Dr Andrew Weil to create a holistic program overseen by a Wellness Guide, the first of its kind at sea. There are daily yoga and meditation classes and, while I have good intentions, somehow I don’t make it for any of the 7am starts. There’s the usual menu of treatments plus a few interesting extras, such as a sound bath with humming Tibetan crystal bowls.

Then there’s the food. Seabourn has partnered with American celebrity chef Thomas Keller to launch The Grill, its new signature restaurant. The dining room is dark and clubby, the menu a modern twist on classic 1970s steakhouse fare. In keeping with the theme, I order crab cakes, lobster thermidor and an enormous ice cream sundae prepared right at the table.

Encore is also home to the line’s first standalone sushi restaurant (called, simply, Sushi) that’s so good I eat there two nights in a row. There’s a different themed dinner held each night in The Colonnade (which operates as the buffet during the day) and it’s excellent the night I attend. As with all Seabourn ships, all dining and drinks (excluding some top shelf stuff) is included in the fare.

Our first port of call, Mooloolaba, is cancelled due to rough weather. And I can’t say I’m disappointed. The real story here is the ship and I soon feel I would be happy enough never to set foot on dry land again. Cruising through the Whitsundays, we drop anchor right beside Hamilton Island. Surrounded by the curved green backs of the islands and with seemingly doll-sized sailboats bobbing about beside us, it must be the prettiest cruise port in the country. I jump aboard a Zodiac and zip out to Sawmill Bay for one of the line’s custom Ventures by Seabourn shore excursions. The program focuses on active excursions led by members of the expert expedition team; a good way to burn off a few of those champagne calories.

The highlight of the voyage is the Champagne and Caviar evening, one of Seabourn’s signature events. The ship’s singers perform opera on the main deck as we sail away from Hamilton Island at sunset, and it’s exceptional. These are genuine word-class performers, far above the usual ‘cruise ship cabaret’ fare, and even an operatic philistine like me is moved. The ship also hosts a new show from Broadway legend Tim Rice, featuring songs from shows such as The Lion King, Aladdin, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and Evita. Sadly, it’s not performed during my leg of the journey and I don’t get the opportunity to wow everyone with my rendition of ‘Hakuna Matata’.

Cruising through the Whitsundays, we drop anchor right beside Hamilton Island. Surrounded by the curved green backs of the islands and with seemingly doll-sized sailboats bobbing about beside us, it must be the prettiest cruise port in the country.

I spend one day in the private confines of The Retreat, an exclusive adults-only area on deck 12 that’s making its debut on Encore. It is Tihany’s favourite space and the man has good taste. Fifteen cabanas circle a large central hot tub, each with sun loungers, a TV, mini bar and couch. The house pour is Bollinger, which, it turns out, is the ideal breakfast champagne (if you like that sort of thing). A day at The Retreat will set you back an additional US$249 (about A$330) on port days or US$349 (about A$462) on sea days, which is potentially why it remains largely empty during the voyage. It’s a shame, because it really is divine, but Seabourn might need to rethink how it operates.

This isn’t the only problem that crops up. If the outdoor section is closed, there isn’t enough seating in The Colonnade buffet (unless you like to sit with strangers, which I do not). Cabin lighting is unnecessarily complicated. One night, after at least 20 minutes of frustrated flickering, I throw a towel over a lamp that remains stubbornly inextinguishable. There are also few hiccups in the famed Seabourn service that don’t go unnoticed.

I spoke with other passengers who had sailed with the line for close to 100 days and they felt it wasn’t up to the usual standard. Service around the pool was often slow (or non-existent) and a particularly surly waiter left a bad taste in my mouth. But the service improved considerably as the voyage continued. With just a handful of sailings under its bow, Encore is a new ship and is considerably larger than others in the Seabourn fleet, so I’m happy to chalk these up to teething issues. Especially considering the experiences at the other end of the spectrum.

One night, as I’m walking back to my cabin, a man calls me over to the railing. A pod of dolphins are frolicking in the bow waves, their slick silver bodies visible just under the surface. They race along beside the ship for a magical half hour, leaping over the breaking waves and tumbling underneath the foam. It seems everyone wants a piece of Encore.

 

seabourn.com

An Indonesian Expedition

By Belinda Wilkinson

Grab a map, because I can assure you, this is a place most of you won’t be familiar with. From the tip of Darwin, focus your eyes 1,500 kilometres northeast and you’ll hit Raja Ampat and Cenderawasih Bay in West Papua, the Indonesian province of the island of New Guinea. This is one of the most remote and undiscovered locations in the world. Yet it’s so close to Australia.

Few charter boats have ventured here because of the distance, dangers of the seas and political hurdles. Tourist visas aren’t handed out easily. It took staff from Australia’s True North Cruises more than two years to set up an itinerary for their only ship, the 34-metre luxury yacht True North, and obtain permission from the Indonesian government to allow them to take visitors into these waters. It was granted on condition of a very short time frame to be in and out.

True North’s owners Craig Howson and Mark Stothard heard whale sharks in this region were behaving in the most peculiar way and, while the ship normally cruises Australia, this was something they couldn’t resist – to go where few have gone before. Their guests would experience a trip of a lifetime.

From our hotels in Darwin, 35 Australian passengers are escorted onto True North Cruises’ private jet where we’re served a champagne breakfast. In just over an hour we make a quick stop in the island town of Ambon where our visas are stamped. Two hours later we touch down in Sorong, West Papua. It’s an airport built for a logistics hub. Tourists are clearly a spectacle and rather amusing.

Enthusiastic chauffeurs take us in four wheel drives to a port where True North waits patiently after her three-day journey from Australia. As we approach the jetty, dilapidated wooden boats surround this lavish, state of the art yacht. It looks completely out of place. Nonetheless, we’re all secretly hoping the big white one is ours – especially those who haven’t read their travel pamphlets.

Thankfully, the termite-ridden pride and joys are left with the locals as we’re driven out in tenders toward True North, stepping onboard to a waiting cocktail and air-conditioned comfort. The service from the 24 all-Australian crew onboard is outstanding – friendly, professional and fun. We all know constant smiles go a long way and the vibe on board is just plain old school happy. Everyone is thrilled to be here and there’s never a feeling of being crowded anywhere on the boat.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the fine dining room and the two onboard chefs give a run down of every meal of the day to individual tables. Delightful crews clean the rooms daily and turn the beds in the evening. The bedrooms are roomy and modern and the ensuites are fresh. Beds are comfortable for a good nights sleep, to be able to do it all again tomorrow.

Over the next few days the basic itinerary is: get up at 6:30am, eat, adventure, eat, adventure, eat, adventure, eat, drink and sleep. After breakfast is the first dive/snorkel on the reef or a wreck, paradise island/rainforest hike, village visit, fishing trip, boat cruise, helicopter ride or island swim. It goes on like that throughout the day, every day. This is a discovery adventure – chances are no other tourist has set foot on this powdery white beach surrounded by coconuts palms and turquoise waters, snorkelled at this spot or hiked up this mountain. We’re taken into a village where tourists are seldom seen. Children are the first to spot our boats approach and run from the huts to greet us with shy but friendly smiles. This place is untouched.

The onboard helicopter is under very strict conditions not to land on any soil in West Papua. Having a chopper in this region is a big deal. So it isn’t a huge surprise when Pilot Rob spots three World War II American Bomber planes in pristine condition. They rest in two and a half metres of crystal clear water just off the shore of a beautiful island. The tenders are launched, the crew jump in for a quick safety inspection, and soon the passengers are snorkelling on undocumented historical wrecks.

The coral and fish life in this region is some of the best I have ever seen. And it’s little wonder. This area is a cauldron of evolution – West Papua contains 75 per cent of the world’s total number of coral and is home to the most reef fish of anywhere on earth (1,672 species). Over the past 15 million years it’s been completely cut off from the rest of the ocean and more than 100 species of marine life are found nowhere else in the world. Onboard marine biologist Mark Erdmann discovers new species of fish every time he visits.

On day seven, Mark gives the guests a presentation on what we’ve all been anxiously awaiting – the whale sharks of Cenderwasih Bay.

Every evening local fishermen light kerosene lamps on their temporary wooden barges, called bagans. They lower nets into the 80-metre deep water and small baitfish called Ikan Puri are attracted to the light and trapped in the nets.

We idle up to the platform and catch a glimpse of our first whale shark. This one is about five metres long and, as it gracefully swims past, it completely dwarfs our boat. Our mouths are open but we’re speechless.

But back in 2004, something extraordinary occurred. One or two whale sharks realised that these trapped bait fish are an easy feed. Why go search for plankton when you can feast on a tasty, convenient meal like this? They began sucking on the net until they found a hole. And if that didn’t work they’d blow then suck until the net ripped apart spilling the little fish right into their mouths. Quite cheeky, but rather clever.

The fishermen weren’t impressed. So they started to throw some of their catch over the side to keep the whale sharks away from their nets. Soon the whale sharks were swimming vertically up to the bagans with their mouths breaching the water, begging like puppies. The fishermen started to jump in the water with them and treat them like pets. The whale sharks couldn’t care less about these bizarre humans. They know there’s no danger. They just want food.

In 2012, Mark Erdmann and his team tagged 30 whale sharks, between three and nine metres long. It’s believed there could be up to 100 who’ve learnt this behaviour and remain in the bay all year round.

Early the next morning the sun begins to rise and sends a golden orange and pink light that floods the horizon. The warmth burns away tropical grey clouds to reveal a blue sky. The colour spectacle creates a mirror image against the milky water. To the right, mountain silhouettes shape the border of the bay.

We idle up to the platform and catch a glimpse of our first whale shark. This one is about five metres long and, as it gracefully swims past, it completely dwarfs our boat. Our mouths are open but we’re speechless. The whale sharks splash around as the fishermen pet them with their feet and throw bait right into their mouths. After a quick brief to remind us not to get too close, we are given the thumbs up to go and make friends with these magnificent animals. A few over arm strokes toward the bagan and an eight-metre whale shark cruises up from underneath and overtakes me. I freeze and let him pass, shaking my head in disbelief.

As I float on the surface, I turn my head to watch another three whale sharks circle the bagan, check the nets and assume an upright position to feed from the fishermen. They watch the men intently and rotate between each other to share. There are times up to five whale sharks feed at once. I take a deep breath through my snorkel and dive to the next whale shark that’s rising vertically toward me. I swim down as he swims up just inches away. It’s normally the other way around.

I have swum with whale sharks off Exmouth in Western Australia, but it’s a fleeting experience. Spotter planes direct charter boats toward them, tourists quickly jump over and try to keep up with them on the surface for a minute or two before the fish dive down to escape.

But these whale sharks will hang around for hours on end, undeterred by anyone in the water. We grab baitfish and let it go right into their mouths. A whale shark uses its head to push a snorkeller out of his way and she laughs mid-ride, “I’m in whale shark soup!” At one stage I float vertically as though I am standing with a whale shark as it feeds just inches from my face.

After an incredible day with the world’s largest fish we’re back onboard True North, sipping champagne and sharing unbelievable photos and footage. And the best part is we get do it all again tomorrow, but this time some of us are going in before the sun is up. The tenders set off early for the night dive and there is an eerie feeling in the dark water. The only light is cast from the bagan or our underwater camera that only gives limited visibility into 80 metres of water.

Giant shadows suddenly appear. But panic is rapidly replaced with marvel once again, as the whale sharks go about their modern dining. I feel safe in their presence reassured by a child-like confidence they’ll somehow protect me from any nasties I can’t see. Mind you, I didn’t venture too far from the bagan this time.

As the sun begins to beam into the sea, the water becomes a familiar deep blue. As the morning light strikes the back of the whale sharks their characteristic white specks sparkle like stars. We were part of the beginning of something very special.