Monday, August 17, 2015

Barossa & McLaren Vale

The week before last I took some time out of the office to head down to South Australia to visit the Barossa and McLaren Vale wine regions.

We started at Penfolds with the "Make your own blend" session where we donned the white coats and headed in to the lab to learn a bit more about the art of wine making and how the blends are created. That night we stayed at the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort in a two bedroom apartment and had dinner in the restaurant and then breakfast the next morning.

Day 2 was a big one as we visited Grant Burge, Rockford, St Hallets, Langmeil, lunch at Maggie Beer's Farm Shop, Kalleske, Torbreck, Tscharke and Seppeltsfield. We then headed back to Adelaide Airport to pick up a couple more friends and then headed to McLaren Vale and our house at Aldinga Beach where we were staying for the rest of the trip.

Day 3 I took one for the team and drove but the wineries visited were Hither & Yon, Leconfield, Wirra Wirra, Alpha Box & Dice and finished at Samuel's Gorge where we enjoyed the sunset over the hills.

Our final day included d'Arenberg, Coriole and Shaw & Smith.

Yes, way too many wineries in the short time but when we go back we'll definitely no which 3 or 4 we're leisurely spend our time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Out of office

The office will be closed Thursday and Friday this week as I'm having a long weekend with friends down in the Barossa and McLaren Vale.

If you need anything during that time please leave a voice-mail message or send me an email and I'll get back to you first thing on Monday.

Friday, July 31, 2015

July - Month in review

July was all about sport with a handful of the top soccer teams in the world coming down under. There was Liverpool matches in Brisbane and Adelaide while Melbourne hosted Manchester City, Real Madrid and Roma.

Most of the above matches did good things for the hotel markets but the main event for the month was definitely State of Origin 3 in Brisbane. For the last year or two State of Origin has been a bit disappointment for the hotels as they over-charge and the city doesn't end up filling as people refuse to pay the ridiculous prices. Thankfully this year was better and the city did fill but the noticeable difference was most of the requests were just one night stays.

This month I also visited a couple of hotels in the city. The first was Capri by Fraser that opened a few months ago and later that week was Hotel Jen. As well as having a look around the hotels I was lucky enough to have lunch in both their restaurants.

Monday, July 6, 2015

June - Month in review

June turned out to be a relatively quiet month but the highlight and the busiest night was definitely State of Origin 3 in Melbourne on June 17. At the end of the week prior to the game, you couldn't get a room for under $500, unless you spoke to us of course. There were just a handful of rooms available in the days leading up to the game and prices were through the roof.

The only other peak date in June was the same week (as above) in Canberra. The dates for parliament this year have been busy, but nothing over the top yet. Tuesday June 16 changed all that and availability was limited well in advance. We started getting calls more than a week out which is a rarity for Canberra. At that time there was nothing under $350 and a few days later that minimum had moved up to $450. Not long after the city was full and the phone calls really came flooding in. Why was this was parliament so much busier? Unfortunately I don't know but hopefully it happens again soon.

Monday, May 11, 2015

EPL teams headed down under

The English Premier League season hasn't finished yet but a couple of their biggest names are headed down under. My team, and recently crowned League Champions, Chelsea FC along with Liverpool are coming to play in Australia in the upcoming months.

Chelsea recently announced they are coming to Sydney June 2 to play against Sydney FC while Liverpool will play the Brisbane Roar in Brisbane on July 17 (I'm lucky enough to be going to this game) and Adelaide United in Adelaide on July 20.

All these matches should mean good things for each city's hotels so if you're going to the matches I recommend you book early.
(note: We have a stash of rooms available for the Adelaide United game at really good rates.)

Edit: I spoke too soon ... it turns out there are actually THREE EPL teams headed to Australia in their off-season! I saw on TV last night that Tottenham Hotspurs are also playing Sydney FC on May 30.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sofitel Melbourne - overnight stay

Over the ANZAC Day weekend I spent a night at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins before heading to the Yarra Valley for my friends' wedding.

I'd seen the hotel and its rooms many years ago but was yet to actually stay there. I'm a member of Accor's Advantage Plus program so I booked early and used a free night.

Our room overlooked the burbs rather than the river, Crown and the bay but all the rooms at the Sofitel are on high floors so its still a nice outlook. The weather wasn't great so the view for the one night wasn't that important. The rooms themselves are what you'd expect from a 5 star hotel with the only letdown being the shower over bath (common amongst older hotels) but this was definitely made up for by the comfy Sofitel signature bed.

We had dinner in the lounge on the 35th floor and this was the only disappointing part of the stay. The service was poor, the food took forever and was cold. The positive that came from this was that after I filled out the hotel's post-stay survey I was contacted within a couple of days by the head of Food & Beverage to discuss the situation. I appreciated the follow-up from him and his sincerity regarding the matter.

The Sofitel Melbourne is located at the "Paris end" of Collins Street, just around the corner from the designer shops and a short walk down to the MCG.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Office closed - ANZAC Day long weekend

Okay, so its not actually an ANZAC Day long weekend but it is for us. The office will be closed Monday and Tuesday as I'm down in Melbourne and the Yarra Valley for a long weekend.

If you need anything during that time please leave a voice-mail message or send me an email and I'll get back to you first thing on Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chinese New Year

I don't remember Chinese New Year having this much of an effect in the past but that's the main reason hotels are giving as to why they're so busy this week. Sydney is full, Perth is full and Melbourne is virtually full.

February/March is also one of the peak corporate travel seasons as businesses begin travelling (after the quiet month that is January) so it sometimes doesn't need a specific major event for the hotels to fill. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sydney at it again

Sydney hotels' busiest times of the year are February/March and November. Last year, November was huge for Sydney hotels and the momentum has definitely continued in to this year.

February/March sees a lot of concerts, concerts, festivals, cruise ships and many other things happening in Sydney. This all means good things for the hotels, not so good for people looking for availability at reasonable rates.

Things started to pick up last week and the city was close to filling, this week is huge and next week is even worse! The lesson is, if you need to travel to Sydney during their peak times, make sure you book at least two weeks in advance otherwise rates will be a lot higher than expected.