ECO LODGE THE PLACE TO GEO
Atropical Queensland ecoretreat has become the fifth Australian property to join the ranks of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. In line with the National Geographic Society’s focus on natural environments and local culture, the collection of 57 properties around the world are set in spectacular locations, have sustainable tourism practices, and offer exceptional service and guest experience, whether it be wildlife encounters or engaging with local communities.
Family-owned Thala Beach Nature Reserve, 15 minutes from Port Douglas, gained membership of the exclusive group after final inspections over multiple days last
month. The lodge consists of 83 ecodesigned, treehouse-style bungalows on a private headland covered by 58ha of native rainforest, with 2km of private-access beach.
Other Australian lodges in the program are Lizard Island, and three Baillie Lodges: Southern Ocean Lodge at Kangaroo Island, which has just celebrated its 10 birthday; Longitude 131 at Uluru; and Capella on Lord Howe Island.
RED CENTRE FLIGHTS
Brisbane is about to get its first direct flights to the Red Centre. From August 3, Jetstar will fly to Ayers Rock Airport three times a week. Michael Tennant, acting CEO for the NT’s Department of Tourism and Culture, said despite Brisbane being a key international gateway airport
(after Sydney and Melbourne), there have been no direct flights between Brisbane and Uluru.
Jetstar is the second airline to announce new services from Brisbane to the Red Centre, with Virgin Australia’s twice-weekly return flights to Alice Springs beginning on June 19.
Travellers heading to Uluru after July 1 will have a new option for accommodation, with Voyages Ayers Rock Resort about to reopen the Lost Camel at Yulara. The property has been refurbished as a 100-room boutique-style hotel after five or so years’ use as staff accommodation. NORTHERNTERRITORY.COM
WET SEASON OVER
The dry season is rolling into the top part of Australia, and with it tourism operators in hiatus for the wet are beginning to welcome visitors again.
Lush and green from the wet season, Home Valley Station in the East Kimberley is reopening from May 1. The heritage cattle station, on the Gibb River Road, at the foot of the Cockburn Range, offers options ranging from guesthouse accommodation to eco tents and camping. An opening two-night special starts from $210 a person, twin share if booked before May 31. The high season rate is from $250 a night from June 1 to August 31.
Meanwhile, the Kimberley’s big ticket event, the Ord Valley Muster,
rounds up 30 events over 10 days from May 11-20. New this year is the Emma Gorge longest dinner at El Questro, which will be held on the station’s runway on May 14. Three courses of local food and wine are on offer, and organisers have also lined up an acoustic set from Dan Sultan. HVSTATION.COM.AU, ORDVALLEYMUSTER.COM.AU
Some flyers enjoy the blissful cocoon of disconnectedness, but Wi-Fi in the air continues to take off. According to Emirates, the airline set a record when more than a million Wi-Fi connections – 1,037,016 to bOenptrweIctitser – were made on board its firstname.lastname@example.org_team
The airline says 94 per cent of connections were made with a smartphone and the rest with laptops and other devices. Wi-Fi connectivity is available on about 98 per cent of the Emirates fleet. The highest data usage from a@seinscgalepesnaps passenger was made by an Emirates Skywards member who stayed connected throughout their flight from Dubai to Johannesburg, consuming 4.9 GB of datVaI.aTehmearIol uestecape with the most Wi-Fi connections in March was EK215 from Dubai to Los Angeles, when more than 6000 customers connected in flight.
IT’S ALL ABOUT HER
You’ve already read our hotel trends cover story. One brand listening to a
particular group of customers is MGallery by Sofitel.
The hotels are now offering emergency kits filled with items such as makeup remover, nail polish remover, hair ties and pins, moisturiser, sunscreen and stockings, and ensuring rooms are equipped with quality hairdryers and good bathroom lighting.
The initiative, called “Inspired by Her”, is the result of market research last year that discovered women want more from the hotels they stay in. Bridie Commerford from AccorHotels Pacific says more than 80 per cent of guests in MGallery by Sofitel hotels in Australia are female, so it is important to bring in feminine touches to enrich their guests’ experience.
Lighter, healthier menu items in restaurants are also a part of the program, as is the delivery of a pot of brewed tea to rooms upon request.
Other key insights from the global survey found that wellbeing experiences top the list of “Memorable Moments” women want to have, while the top five feminine touch items women like in a hotel are fresh flowers, fragrance, quality bedding and materials, and attention to service detail.
MGallery Hotels in Australia include the Lindrum and Como in Melbourne, the Harbour Rocks Hotel in Sydney and the Playford Adelaide. MGALLERY.SOFITEL.COM.AU
Treehouse-style Thala Beach Nature Reserve, Port Douglas, is now a member of the exclusive National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.