Monday, 11 December 2017

AirAsia grabs the headlines for the fifth straight year

Airline awards carry the same weight with me as wine show trophies. Collect one and you might have got lucky. Win several and your award has serious merit. 

AirAsia has been named the World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline for the fifth year in a row at the 2017 World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final.

AirAsia emerged top in the category having received the highest votes from travel professionals and industry players from around the world, beating carriers including Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Ryanair, easyJet, Jetstar Airways, Norwegian Air, West Air, flydubai, Air Arabia, flynas, kulula, Mango and fastjet.

Asia’s largest low-cost carrier by passenger numbers also won the inaugural World's Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew award, ahead of the same 13 budget airlines.

AirAsia Group CCO Siegtraund Teh and AirAsia senior cabin crew Rosita Sulaiman accepted the awards at a gala ceremony held at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay in Vietnam. 

AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said: “I am very proud to stand here today to receive our fifth WTA World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline award in as many years. 

"I’ve always said we are the world’s true low-cost champion, and I’m thrilled to see I’m not the only one and the industry agrees with me. And we will only get better as we continue on our digitalisation journey to better understand what our guests want and to make flying a richer, more enjoyable experience, as we continue to strive to provide world-class service at the lowest fares.”

The World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across key sectors of travel, tourism and hospitality industries. 

New ferries for Melbourne-Tasmania route

TT-Line, operators of Spirit of Tasmania, will order two brand-new purpose-built ships to replace the current Spirit of Tasmania fleet by 2021, chairman Mike Grainger and Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman have announced.
Grainger said the company had carefully assessed vessel types and fleet configurations over the past several years to determine the most appropriate vessel to operate daily crossings of Bass Strait.

“We looked at capacity, customer expectations, operating speed, sea-keeping properties for Bass Strait, capital and operating costs and operational efficiency,” he said.
“Further, independent expert industry modelling for future demand for travel on the Spirits projected a continuation of strong passenger and freight growth.”
Grainger said Spirit of Tasmania was an essential link between Tasmania and Victoria, connecting visitors, families and industry.
“We have seen continued growth in passenger numbers over the past few years and the demand for vehicle and freight continues to be exceptionally high,” he said.
"These two new ships will have substantially-larger capacity for passengers, passenger vehicles and freight.”
Built in 1998, the ships in the current fleet, Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II, underwent a major refurbishment in 2015 and will continue operating until the new vessels are delivered. 
Grainger said the Company remained focused on delivering a safe, reliable and exceptional passenger and freight service across Bass Strait.
“We are committed to providing exceptional sailing experiences and with these two purpose-built ships we'll be able to offer increased comfort and enjoyment for even more passengers,” he said.
“We'll be bringing more people to Tasmania each day – contributing even more to Tasmania's thriving tourism industry and supporting local businesses with increased capacity."
TT-Line has ruled out switching Spirit of Tasmania routes to Melbourne-Burnie, vowing to stick with Melbourne-Devonport.  

Sunday, 10 December 2017

How to taste five Yarra Valley winery standouts in one place

A wine industry insider with an Instagram account has turned his passion into a business. 

The brainchild of Healesville local and self-confessed Yarra Valley wine lover, Ben Mitchell, Yarra Valley Cellar Door is the culmination of three years of wine marketing that didn't make him a cent. 

“In 2014 I started an Instagram account to share my wine discoveries from Yarra Valley cellar doors," Mitchell says. "I wasn’t paid to promote any of these wineries, or wines—I’d just discovered a passion for local wine coming out of this amazing, picturesque part of the wine-world and wanted a single place - albeit a virtual one, initially - where everyone could see how cool the valley is.”

A trip to Heathcote, where one shop was offering a range of labels for tasting, sparked Mitchell's enthusiasm. 

"The idea stuck with me - why didn’t the Yarra Valley have a one-stop cellar door with a bunch of producers on show, on one table?”

The answer to that question was simple: no one was doing it. So Mitchell did.

Now that Yarra Valley Cellar Door is a bricks and mortar facility, Mitchell hopes to continue exposing locals and tourists alike to the diversity and quality of Yarra wine.

The rustic Yarra Valley Cellar Door is a wine-tasting room with 10 wines from five producers on tasting. 

Located in downtown Healesville, it’s a perfect one-stop tasting spot to discover some of the best wines coming out of the valley right now.

Pouring the tastings himself, Mitchell draws from his experience as former cellar door manager for Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander and sales and marketing manager for Soumah to share a combination of winemaking notes and local knowledge.

YVCD is committed to raising the profile of each of the five wineries on tasting: Santolin Wines, Seville Estate, Soumah Wines, Squitchy Lane and Warramunda Estate.

Valley Cellar Door, 242 Maroondah Highway, Healesville. Thursday/Saturday/Sunday 12-5pm. Friday 12-7pm. Groups (maximum 10) by appointment. Purchase a minimum of one bottle and tasting is free. Otherwise, a $10 tasting fee applies. 0403 908 093

Saturday, 9 December 2017

A delightful step back to Hobart in the 1880s

One of Hobart's most gracious old homes, National Trust-listed Corinda, has recently undergone a tasteful renovation.

Whether you are looking for an authentic colonial-style guest house experience, a garden suite or a more modern accommodation option, the Corinda Collection has all bases covered. 

Owner Julian Roberts'  great-great-grandfather, wealthy timber merchant Alfred Crisp, built this magnificent private house – one of Hobart’s biggest - in the early 1880s. He went on to become Lord Mayor of Hobart.

Ideally situated for exploring southern Tasmania’s world-class attractions like MONA, Port Arthur and Maria Island, Corinda is tucked away in the heritage suburb of Glebe. There are views across the city to Mount Wellington but you are just a short stroll to the Hobart waterfront.

With the harbour and local parkland, this unique boutique hotel has several spacious bedrooms, and various outbuildings and cottages. All are different, furnished with original antiques and mellow textiles. 

Many original features including high ceilings, timber work, coloured glass, fireplaces, ornate cornice work, ceiling roses, floorboards and iron lacework remain and enhance the main home’s character.

Contemporary updates have been sensitively incorporated and the use of Victorian colours and paint techniques preserve the delightful ambience of stepping back in time - but with all modern comforts.

The three garden cottages have been fully restored with new bathrooms and kitchens and are designed for those looking for self-catering, while there is also the option of modern, self-catering pavilions. 

Breakfast in the main guesthouse is a highlight, featuring fresh home-baked bread, eggs from the owners' own farm and crisp organic bacon all enjoyed on an enclosed verandah overlooking the courtyard. 

The traditional European formal parterre garden retains several of the established trees and box hedges planted in the 1880s and a stone garden wall. Perfect for an afternoon of reading, or perhaps a game of croquet on the lawn.

Owners Julian Roberts and his Spanish wife Chaxi previously ran Brockley House Estate on the East Coast for several years and have the art of understated hospitality down pat.

Little touches like an honesty bar in the lounge, with a range of Tasmanian spirits and liqueurs, and ultra-fast NBN broadband add to the relaxing experience.  

Garden tours and cooking lessons are available by request, and future plans include pop-up dinners (Chaxi is an excellent cook).  

Rooms start from $299. See

Fun and games enjoying Tasmanian pinot noir

There is no doubt that a lot of wine events can be intimidating for newcomers.

Not so the Tasmanian Pinot Noir Showcase to be held at Wobbly Boot Vineyard in the Coal River Valley, north of Hobart, on Sunday, January 7.

This event will feature eight Tasmanian pinots from six boutique producers from around the state in a relaxed garden/vineyard setting.

Here's the blurb from Wobbly Boot vigneron Paul Williams: "Do you enjoy pinot noir? Join us for a wine and food experience to discover more about this grape variety.

"We'll begin in the vineyard to find out more how this variety is grown whilst sipping on a glass of Maclean Bay Pinot Rosé. Whilst sampling delicious Coal Valley foods, we will then taste pinots from six small boutique producers, each representing a different Tasmanian wine region, and hear the stories behind the wines."

Vineyards featured are: Emilia Wines, soon to re-brand as La Villa from Spreyton, Winter Brook (Tamar Valley), Maclean Bay (East Coast), Nandroya (Huon/Channel), Laurel Bank (Derwent Valley) and Wobbly Boot (Coal Valley).

Williams says there will also be a competition to guess a mystery wine ; and some low-key food and wine pairing.

The fun will run from 1-3.30pm and costs $68.50. Early bookings are advised.

or phone Paul on 0427 679 096.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Pompous prats set a new high in pretentiousness

There is an awful lot of pretence surrounding wine, spirits, cocktails, even craft ales,  but a new promotion in London takes the biscuit for idiotic self-absorption. 

The Hyde Bar in London’s chic Knightsbridge district has launched a limited-edition menu in which it pairs different cocktails and whiskies with a selection of bow ties and cravats.

Yes, you read that right. Bow ties and cravats. What sort of tosser wears a cravat for a night out on the town? 

The Drinks Business reports that Esquire’s style director Teo Van Den Broeke and fashion writer David Evans believe you should dress to match the drink you are imbibing. 

Evans has worked with producer Cravat Club to pair their 100% pure silk cravats with a selection of whiskies, while Van Den Broeke has paired cocktails with bow ties from Harvey Nichols.

Both men sound like they are suffering from AGS (Attention Grabbing Syndrome) and need a damn good thrashing of common sense. 

The ‘Attire’ menu, featuring a list of limited edition Macallan whisky cocktails paired with designer bow ties, and Macallan drams with matching silk cravats, seeks to stop you from making drinks-related fashion faux pas, reports The Drinks Business, apparently in all seriousness.

I have, it seems, spent decades making faux pas while enjoying a pint at the pub, or a glass of semillon at the wine bar. Silly me. 

The menu includes drinks like Sherry Cask Sour for £18 (a blend of Macallan 12 years, lemon juice, sauvignon blanc reduction, egg white and fresh grapes) which has been paired with Cornelliani Burgundy silk Bow Tie for £80. Mind you, if you are paying $30+ for a drink you are probably daft enough to want a matching tie.

Van Den Broeke commented: “While I have a more relaxed personal style I do enjoy dressing in premium tailoring for special occasions; the upcoming festive season offers plenty opportunities to dress up. I have really enjoyed pairing the ties to match the cocktails and I am sure customers will enjoy finding their favourite.”

Guests that order from the menu, and are staying at The Park Tower Hotel (where the bar is located), can have their bow tie or cravat hand-wrapped and delivered to their room or a chosen address. 

And almost as absurd is the news that two headline-seeking microbreweries in Florida have combined to create a repulsive-sounding Krispy Kreme stout. At 12.5% ABV and "hoping that some of the glaze from the Krispy Kremes will come through". 

God help us all. 

From little things, big breweries grow

The Cairns waterfront is the location for a new state-of-the-art brewery: Hemingway’s Brewery Cairns.

The brewery is beginning to take shape at Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal Shed 2 overlooking Trinity Outlet and will incorporate facilities with 10 times the capacity of Hemingway’s original venture at Port Douglas.

The multi-million dollar development will comprise a gastro brewpub and extensive events space in addition to the brewery, which will house seven 7000-litre fermentation tanks.
Founders Tony Fyfe and Craig Parsell.
The venue’s restaurant will serve quality gastro pub-style food made from locally sourced ingredients, while a providore will showcase FNQ craft produce and a dedicated event space will cater for the MICE events and weddings.
Brewery founder Tony Fyfe said the opening of Hemingway’s Brewery Cairns would provide a tourism drawcard as the region’s economy experienced a renewed spike in both domestic and international visitation, while also catering to locals through its focus on investing in the community.

"Like Hemingway’s Brewery in Port Douglas, we are creating a special place that will be embraced by both locals and visitors who appreciate the character and authenticity of a brewery with its roots firmly planted in Far North Queensland,” Fyfe said.

“Hemingway’s Brewery aims to build and operate the best gastro brew pubs in the country with a focus on brewing great craft beer, which is becoming increasingly popular as people discover the amazing taste of a beverage that is unfiltered, unpasteurised and preservative-free; made with just four key ingredients – yeast, hops, base malts and water.

“When completed, our state-of-the-art brewery in Cairns will be like nothing ever seen before in the region, boasting an incredible capacity to brew a wide selection of high quality, fresh craft beers, produced in small batches for optimum purity and brewed by locals, for the locals.”
A total of 56 craft beer and cider taps will be available at the new brewery, with a further 50 boutique packaged, craft beers also available.

Since launching in July last year, Hemingway’s Brewery in Port Douglas has become one of the town’s most popular venues, sought out by locals and visitors for its inherently authentic ambience and picturesque marina location.

The venue is expected to open mid-2018 and will create more than100 new jobs in the region.