The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - TRAVEL NEWS - SU­SAN BUGG

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.


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


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 f@liegshc­tasp.e_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.


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.

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