Friday, February 27, 2009

Day of indulgence

I get some very cool invites and the week before last was definitely right up there. The sales team for Mantra (thank you Tori and Kate) invited me to join them in a "day of indulgence" and didn't give too much more information than we were leaving at 9 and would be back at 5. I love a long lunch as much as the next person so I wasn't going to turn this down.

When I arrived at the hotel I heard one or two comments about the mystery destination and it soon clicked that we were off to Peppers Spicers Lodge (pictured below)! I went there for a friend's wedding at the end of 2007 and its a fantastic venue. So, myself and 10 women (that's how I roll) jumped in the bus on our way to a 5 course degustation lunch and a very nice way to spend a Friday.

Here's the menu:
Demitasse Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2008
BBQ Eel, Qld Crab & Avocado Salad, Wakame, Wasabi Mayonnaise, CaviarRed Claw,

Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Vic, 2008
Beetroot & Taleggio Tart, Micro Herbs, Strawberry Balsamic

Campbells, Bobbie Burns, Shiraz, Rutherglen, 2008
Grimaud Duck Breast, Venison & Boudin Noir Roulade, Quinoa & Macadamia, Apricot Syrup, Fresh Herbs, Snap Peas, Jus
Mitchell Noble Semillon, Clare Valley 2005
Roasted Peach, Jaffa Crumble, Melba Sorbet, Mulled Wine Syrup

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Cage of Death" package

Hotel packages can often be rather bland. Most of the time its breakfast, parking, late check-out, bubbles, etc. Well, the new package from the Novotel Atrium Darwin will never be accused of being unimaginative.

Novotel Darwin Atrium has joined forces with Crocosaurus Cove to create the ultimate Top End adventure experience. The “Cage of Death” package provides intrepid guests with an adrenalin pumping opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the largest Northern Territory saltwater crocodiles in captivity.

Guests are suspended in an acrylic transparent cage on a monorail system above the crocodile enclosures at Crocosaurus Cove and then slowly lowered into one of the four chosen enclosures for an "experience of a life time."

Crocosaurus Cove is one of Darwin’s latest tourism attractions and is centrally located in the heart of the CBD on Mitchell Street only 300 meters from Novotel Darwin Atrium.

Novotel Darwin Atrium’s Crocosaurus Cove packages are available year round with prices starting from $197.00 per night for two adults, including entry, while Cage of Death packages start from $287.00 per night and include one “cage of death” experience.

The Richardson Hotel voted # 1

Congratulations to the The Richardson Hotel in Perth for being voted the best luxury accommodation (under 100 rooms).

We've worked closely with The Richardson since they opened in Perth (West Perth to be precise) a few years ago. They were our top Perth hotel in 2007 and # 4 in 2008.

The Richardson's recent award win was given by The Australian newspaper and voted on by their readers. To read the full story and see the other winners click here.

Tour Down Under Accommodation

The other sporting event happening at the moment is the Tour Down Under cycling race in Adelaide.

Accommodation isn't too hard to find this year. The apartments as usual were the first to go (groups, people sharing to save money, etc) but there is still plenty of well priced hotel accommodation available.

The event sees the return to cycling of Lance Armstrong (pictured below) so it will be interesting to see how he goes.

Australian Open Tennis Accommodation

With the Australian Open tennis tournament starting in Melbourne today, here's a quick update on how the accommodation market is looking.

The first week is always busier than the second and this is definitely the case this year. Many of the 4 and 4.5 stars properties have very limited availability over the first week and this weekend is the hardest of all to secure accommodation at a reasonable rate. Many of the 5 stars have plenty of availability still but their rates are of course a bit more expensive.

If you need accommodation let us know as we can find a number of great value options still. We have a few rooms up our sleeve for this weekend, much cheaper rates than is currently available on last-minute websites.

As for the action on-court. While the favourites are no doubt Nadal and Federer, I'll be going for in-form Scotsman Andy Murray (pictured below) to hopefully break through for his first major title.

2008 by the numbers

I hope everyone thoroughly enjoyed the festive season. Susan and I started back on Monday while Adam has another week off and returns on Tuesday the 13th.

One of the first things I do around this time of the year is to work out our hotel room production for the calendar year just gone. This shows where we have booked most of our rooms and also how each city has performed compared to previous years.

Here are the results in order of our sales for each capital city (largest to smallest).

1. Brisbane down 40% (last year down 12%)
2. Perth up 77% (last year up 140%)
3. Melbourne down 40% (last year up 30%)
4. Sydney down 20% (last year up 100%)
5. Darwin up 95% (last year up 150%)
6. Adelaide up 1% (last year up 240%)
7. Canberra down 80% (last year up 90%)

As you can see, we and the hotel industry in general have felt the economic slowdown and the market definitely isn't as strong as it was the year before.

We weren't surprised to see Perth surge up the ladder (4th last year). Darwin's move up did shock as was the realisation that Adelaide hadn't risen more. We thought it had definitely outperformed.

Thanks to the strong performance of Perth, we also had a new # 1 hotel this year, Novotel Langley Perth (Advantages king room pictured below). Our top 5 is normally all Brisbane hotels but the Marriott at # 3 was the only Brisbane hotel this year.

Our top 5 hotels in 2008:

1. Novotel Langley Perth
2. Diplomat Canberra
3. Brisbane Marriott Hotel
4. Mantra Pandanas Darwin
5. Meriton Kent Street Sydney