Monday, 19 February 2018

"Hospitality" industry gets it horribly wrong again

Hard on the heels on the bruise cruise PR disaster comes news of another hospitality industry faux pas

News aggregator Travel Mole reports that Travelodge in the UK has apologised to a father who was mistakenly accused of being a paedophile after he checked into a room with his teenage daughter.

Karl Pollard, 46, was travelling with his 14-year-old daughter Stephanie, to visit his mother in hospital, when they checked into the Travelodge in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

They took the four-hour journey from South Wales to Cheshire so his daughter could see her grandmother before she started treatment for cancer.

He told the Daily Star the receptionist gave him a "weird look" when he said he'd take the double bedroom, which he was told was the only room left.

Shortly after he went to the room to unpack, police knocked on his door saying staff had dialled 999 believing he was a paedophile.

"One minute I was brushing my teeth, the next I was being told I was a paedophile," he said, explaining he chose the hotel because it was within walking distance of the hospital. 

He alleged the policewoman said: "We've had a call from Travelodge, they believe you are a paedophile grooming underage girls."

He added his daughter was 'distraught' after being interviewed by police and was terrified her dad was going to be taken away.

A Cheshire Police spokesman said: "Staff at the Travelodge did the right thing by reporting what they believed to be suspicious activity to officers, although thankfully there was nothing untoward and it turned out to be a misunderstanding."

A Travelodge spokesman said: "We are sorry for any distress caused to Mr Pollard. We take our responsibilities towards protecting children and vulnerable young people extremely seriously."

What was not explained was why the Travelodge did not ask for ID from the young girl when she checked in (which would have saved all the kerfuffle), or why the policewoman behaved like a complete plod rather than using some tact.

The hotel did, however, apologise and refund their "guest" for his stay. 

Qantas shines at international wine awards

Seb Crowther and Neil Perry
Australian national airline Qantas was one of the stars at the annual Cellars in the Sky wine awards in London overnight.

Qantas' policy of listing only Australian table wines paid dividends with the Qantas Group winning a total of nine medals, including four golds.

Qantas won golds for best first class cellar, best first class white, shared gold for best first class sparkling wine, and for best business class fortified.

The airline also received three bronze medals and Jetstar received two silver medals.

The Qantas wine lists are curated by Neil Perry and his Rockpool Group team.

“We are immensely proud to be recognised for our wine," Perry said." The awards are a testament to the dedication and hard work of the Rockpool sommeliers and the Qantas beverage team who
select the best wines from across Australia and the finest Champagnes for our customers.

“As Australia’s national carrier, we play an important role in showcasing the best of Australian wine to the world. We pride ourselves on offering a selection of wine that celebrates both boutique and classic wine styles, grape varieties and regions.

“Australians today are incredibly wine savvy. They love exploring food and wine regions around Australia and overseas and they expect to see great food and wine made by passionate locals in-flight and in our lounges.”

The individual gold medals went to Best First Class White - Penfolds Reserve Bin 15A Chardonnay 2015; Best First Class Sparkling (joint): Qantas, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne blanc de blanc 2006 and Best Business Class Fortified for Baileys of Glenrowan Founder Series Classic Muscat.

Qantas received bronze medals for best overall wine cellar (won by Singapore Airlines), Best First Class White for Flametree SRS Wallcliffe Chardonnay 2016 and Best First Class Fortified for Seppeltsfield Paramount Rare Tokay.

Investing over $25 million dollars in the Australian wine industry every year, Qantas is the third-largest purchaser of wine in Australia.

Qantas customers drink their way through five million bottles of wine and Champagne every year, selected by Perry, Master Sommelier Seb Crowther and their team.

Every year over four days, the sommeliers blind taste and review 1,300 Australian wines and Champagne that go on-board domestic and international flights and in the lounges.

Around 250 different wines are chosen from more than 150 different producers.

Participating airlines were: Aegean, Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, Air Canada, Air France, Alitalia, American Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Finnair, Iberia, Icelandair, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, Jetstar, KLM, Korean Air, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Sri Lankan, Tarom, United and Virgin Atlantic.

Cellars in the Sky is in its 32nd year, having been running since 1985.

Why art lovers will be flocking to Hong Kong in March

Hong Kong will be the "go to" destination for art lovers in March with Hong Kong Arts Month running from March 1-30.
The event will feature internationally acclaimed artists, as well as neighbourhood exhibitions and community performances from traditional styles through to the more modern and contemporary.
Here's just a taste of what's in store: 
The Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) runs from February 23-March 24 and will feature over 1,700 international and local artists across 130 performances. Highlights include: the American Ballet Theatre's Whipped Cream; National Theatre of Great Britain's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; and the Welsh National Opera's performance of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande.
Art Central Hong Kong will be held in the Central Harbourfront Event Space from March 27-April 1, introducing 30 new galleries and more than 100 international galleries, many of which are from the Asia-Pacific region. 
Art Basel Hong Kong (below), now in its sixth year, will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from March 29-31. The globally renowned art fair will feature works from 248 leading galleries from 32 countries and territories.
In addition, authentic and inspiring events in local neighbourhoods will feature a range of exhibitions and performances.
Hong Kong's first international sculpture park, Harbour Arts Sculpture Park, will feature sculptures by 18 emerging and renowned local and international contemporary artists while ArtisTree of Taikoo Place will host a musical exhibition, Notating Beauty That Moves, from March 3-29.
For general information on Hong Kong visit

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Return of the prodigal son. Star chef returns to Tasmania

Standout chef Massimo Mele has returned to his home state of Tasmania after several years pleasing palates in Sydney.

"Given the last 18 months I've been flying back and forth from the island state - and the opportunities that have arisen - it's time," he says.
“My little boy is growing up so fast and I am getting married in the last week of February and there is so much happening in Tassie at the moment.”
Mele has spent the last decade building his reputation in Sydney, with his ‘no fuss’ and simple approach to cooking. That included a stint as head chef at La Scala on Jersey.
He has dived straight into a project in the north of the state, consulting on the new The Silos hotel development in Launceston. That, too, is something of a return as his first head chef job was in Launceston at Mud Bar and Restaurant in 2004.
"It has been a nostalgic trip down memory lane,” he says.

Over the last two years Mele has been collaborating with local businesses and wineries, creating events in Tasmania.
The events were to not only to rediscover Tassie’s quality local products but to show that he is serious about being back home.
Tutti a Tavola at Stefano Lubiana was the first event in August 2015, followed by a pop-up at Wiling Brothers, Lunch in the Vines at Home Hill winery, a Cradle Coast Tasting trail dinner in Smithton and featured at Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast grilling cheese over fire and more recently collaborating with Matt Adams from Timbre for the Farmgate Festival dinner celebrating the Tamar region.
Next on the horizon is touring around the Apple Isle to seek the best produce for the launch of The Silos in May.  
Cooking experiences are also a possibility in his new home later next year. He says: “I love food, I love cooking and connecting with people through these experiences.”
Mele and his wife-to-be have recently purchased a new property in Hobart, where they plan to create a destination foodie experience.
Stay tuned.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Why a cruise ship company should reconsider its compensation offer

If I was on a "relaxing" cruise that was punctuated by punch-ups and scuffles I would be wanting a complete refund on my ruined holiday. 

That's why passengers on the Carnival Legend cruise ship this week have every right to feel aggrieved not only at the way the violence was handled but by Carnival Cruise Lines derisory offer of 25% off their next cruise with the company as a "goodwill gesture" refund. 

That's an insult and very poor PR indeed. 

The 10-day cruise through the South Pacific went haywire soured as multiple members of a large family threatened and assaulted other passengers and clashed with security staff, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. 

At least 26 members of the family were kicked off the ship on Friday after a "vicious brawl" forced the vessel to make an unscheduled stop in Eden on the New South Wales South Coast. 

Passengers disembarking from the Carnival Legend in Melbourne told the ABC they had to lock themselves in their cabins to avoid the violence. The carnival turned into a circus.

An internal investigation into the incident has been launched, said Carnival president Sture Myrmell. He knows that is nowhere near good enough.

I received a response from Carnival Cruises: "We offered everyone on the cruise a general 25 per cent future cruise credit as a goodwill gesture. However, we are addressing on a case-by-case basis issues involving those guests who were directly impacted and where there were extenuating circumstances."

So unless you were actually punched or kicked there go your chances of compensation.

Discover one of the newest wine labels in Tasmania

Boutique wineries are booming in Tasmania right now - and one to keep an eye on is Bell & Gong - with a cellar door and boutique vineyard at the historic property of Valleyfield, outside Longford.

The vineyard is family owned and operated and guests are welcomed for an intimate wine tasting experience with complimentary tasting plates. There are also facilities for visitors to bring a picnic or have a barbecue in the rose garden or vineyard.

The on-site vineyard produces pinot noir while riesling and sauvignon blanc are currently brought in - with plans to plant them soon.

The wines are limited to small quantities of individually numbered bottles available at the cellar door or online.

Owners Simon and Frances Stewart and their family purchased the storied Valleyfield property in 2005 and the name Bell & Gong is a nod to Simon's Merchant Navy background.

The wines are extremely well made by consultants Winemaking Tasmania, making Bell & Gong well worth a visit.

Bell & Gong, 878 Illawarra Road, Longford, Tasmania, 7301. 0417 423 889. Wine tastings and sales Thursday-Momday 10am-3pm. 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

A different take on delightful Paris

Ernest Hemingway described Paris as a "Moveable Feast"- a city in which gourmet delights await around every corner. 

But even he would have found Paris a tad sleepy on a Sunday. Many of the best bakeries, bars and restaurants are firmly shuttered on the Sabbath.

Today, more of Paris is open on a Sunday than ever before, but it can still be hard to track down a funky place for a glass of wine or a great pastry if you don't know where to look. 

Born from a love of laid back Sundays, author Yasmin Zeinab's new book Sundays in Paris is the culmination of the popular blog by the same name. It is a comprehensive city guide featuring the best places to eat, drink and explore in the City of Light.

With chapters including Coffee, Brunch, Dinner + Drinks, Cultural Attractions, Gardens + Outdoor Spots, Markets + Foodie Stops, Shopping and The Essentials, Sundays in Paris offers a lot of useful insider information. Take it from me, a long-time Paris resident.

My only complaint is the size of the book - it's a bit big for your pocket, but not big enough for for the coffee table.

All 20 of the arrondissements that spiral outwards in a clockwise direction are featured in this book.

Sundays in Paris also includes suggested full-day and half-day itineraries skewed towards the young and hip. 

Sundays In Paris by Yasmin Zeinab, was published this month. Paperback | RRP $29.99/NZD $32.99.