Victoria steals the sunshine from the Sunshine State with Wotif Aussie Town of the Year awards

Leading online travel site Wotif has revealed the winners of the 2019 Wotif Aussie Town of the Year awards, recognising ten deserving locations across the country that have made a unique contribution to Australian tourism. Looking beyond traditional domestic hotspots and backed by Wotif’s 18-year Australian heritage, the awards aim to support local communities by encouraging Aussies to discover more of their own backyard.

Now in its second year, the Wotif Aussie Town of the Year awards are based on Wotif pricing and demand data and for the first time, traveller reviews, unearthing 2019’s up-and-coming destinations.

Wotif General Manager Daniel Finch said: “After almost two decades of facilitating travel for Australians, Wotif has access to an incredible amount of insight when it comes to what Aussie travellers look for when they travel, informed by traveller-reviews from more than two million locals as well as a depth of demand data.”

“We know from traveller research that Aussies cite discovering more of their backyard as the number one reason for travelling domestically (30 per cent) and with the quintessential road trip the preferred method of travel (nearly 55 per cent travel by car vs 45 per cent flying). The Aussie Town of the Year awards seek to give Aussies a helping hand when planning their next local holiday, as we continue to help great Aussie destinations attract travellers” continued Finch.

After Queensland’s Mackay took home the trophy as last year’s inaugural winner, the Victorian town of Port Fairy has stolen the sunshine from the Sunshine State, crowned this year’s number one destination for Aussie travellers.

Once named the world’s most livable small community, this historic and picturesque fishing village delivers old world charm with a modern twist; known for its buzzing local art scene, food, wine and a year-round calendar of festivals and events. Located on the doorstep of the famed Great Ocean Road, the coastline boasts outdoor family fun and some of Victoria’s best local produce. There’s no better place to soak up the rich history and natural beauty that Australia offers than in Victoria’s Port Fairy!

With Wotif data revealing Port Fairy was one of 2018’s fastest-growing and best-value holiday spots – with year-on-year demand up close to 45% and a predicted average accommodation rate on Wotif at $228 per night –  you’d be crazy to miss the opportunity to visit.

Mayor of Moyne Shire Council, Mick Wolfe said, “We are absolutely thrilled that Port Fairy has received this accolade and that the nation recognises the huge appeal of our town. Although that said, the secret may already be out – one walk around the town right now and you’ll see that it is a place that is adored by tourists and residents alike.

“A trip to Port Fairy offers something for everyone, be it for families, a weekend getaway, a foodie experience, an outdoor adventure, history or shopping experiences – there really is something to be enjoyed no matter what the reason for visiting. Port Fairy also has the added benefit of being ideally located to many other areas and attractions within the Moyne Shire region. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors in 2019 as a result of this award.”

Following Mackay’s win in 2018, Wotif has seen accommodation interest spike by close to 75% in the last twelve months. Daniel Finch said, “Following the success of our inaugural awards and the impact this had on Mackay, we hope to see the humble 3000-person town of Port Fairy swell over summer and beyond as it makes its way onto Aussie bucket lists.”

Wotif 2019 Aussie Town of the Year awards

1. Port Fairy (VIC): Delivering old world charm with a modern twist, Port Fairy sits on the doorstep of the famed Great Ocean Road, boasting a rich history with the chance to spot native whales, seals and dolphins.

2. Albany (WA): As close as you’ll get to a historic European city in WA, Albany is the Western state’s oldest European settlement with a rich history and fantastic family appeal.

3. Port Augusta (SA): The heart and crossroads of Australia, and the gateway to the Flinders Ranges, Port Augusta is located on the peaceful waterways of the Spencer Gulf, famed for breathtaking sunsets that are worth the trip alone.

4. Bendigo (VIC): Get your cultural fix by visiting one of Australia’s biggest regional arts and culture hubs.

5. Forster (NSW): Arguably one of the best whale watching destinations in Australia, Forster stands as an Aussie underdog and best kept secret when it comes to untouched beaches.

6. Cowra (NSW): Experience a little slice of Japan on your very own doorstep. Watch the sea of cherry blossoms flower in Spring all without boarding a plane.

7. Palm Cove (QLD): A tropical paradise nestled between Cairns and Port Douglas, breezy Palm Cove offers the ultimate beachside escape.

8. Scamander (TAS): A classic Tassie holiday shack village, with wide sandy beaches, riverside retreats, nature reserves and fishing hot spots. We’ll say no more.

9. Dubbo (NSW): Well-known for Taronga Western Plains Zoo and some of Australia’s best regional hospitality going ‘round.

10.Warwick (QLD): This isn’t Warwick’s first rodeo. Famously known as the ‘Rose and Rodeo City’, Warwick is the proud home of Australia’s best rodeo riders, and so much more. Yee-ha!

To celebrate the diversity that Australian tourism has to offer, Wotif has also announced the opening of Wotif’s Uniquely Aussie Awards – the people’s choice to uncover the hotspots and travel experiences unique to Australia.

The nationwide search will see Aussies nominate the name and location of their favourite destination, experience or local business across six iconic categories. Whether you’re a sausage roll connoisseur or in search of the Australia’s top swimming spot, Wotif is on the hunt to uncover some of Australia’s best kept local secrets – and those that typify the Aussie road trip.

The most popular nominations will be crowned in the Uniquely Aussie Awards on 20 February 2019, inspiring travellers to explore those towns and businesses that offer best-in-class experiences.

  • Best Main Street: Put Sydney’s Pitt St to shame with a main strip where bakeries, hardware stores and antique realness reign supreme.
  • Best Fish and Chips: From Coolangatta to Cable Beach, we’re a nation girt by seas… and fish and chip stores to match,
  • Best Swimming Spot: Tell us where we should be chasing waterfalls – and other spectacular swimming spots.
  • Best Sausage Roll: The true culinary icon of Australia – but where is Australia’s best sauso roll?
  • Best Roadside Pit Stop: The highlight of your 10-hour journey… including the drop toilet overlooking stunning mountain ranges or a much-needed cinnamon donut stop.
  • Best Regional Chinese Restaurant: Every regional town has one, but where is Australia’s most succulent Chinese meal?

Finch said, “After the enthusiasm and support we received in gifting Chinchilla Australia’s ‘Next Big Thing’, we’re once again throwing it to the nation to find the most uniquely Aussie experiences. An Aussie road trip is made up of more than just the end destination, so we’re on the hunt to uncover some of Australia’s best kept local secrets.

“Regional areas punch above their weight when it comes to the Australian tourism industry – and despite making up almost half (47 per cent) of the nation’s tourism market, they are often underrated as a travel destination. With the launch of our Aussie awards, we’re looking to put a broader range of destinations on the map, create excitement within these communities and drive spending back into these local economies.”

With more Aussies opting to travel locally and domestic travel predicted to grow by 21 per cent over the next 10 years, these Wotif awards seek to give Aussies a helping hand when planning their next local trip.

Source: Wotif

Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival: Wellington’s Annual High Calibre Wine, Food & Entertainment Festival

Wellington’s annual boutique wine festival will be taking place on 9th March 2019 in the Wairarapa; New Zealand’s Pinot Noir capital – Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival.

Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival has been a popular event on the region’s summer calendar for more than a decade. Held on the banks of the Ruamahunga River in the Gladstone wine growing region, the festival is a great place to sample some of the area’s top drops, as well a range of delicious foodie treats featuring regional produce.

There will also be an emphasis on entertainment throughout the day featuring a variety of live music, art exhibitions and static displays ensuring that all tastes are catered for.

The 2019 event marks 13 years of the festival, and event organiser Liz Pollock says the combination of a great atmosphere, stunning location and fabulous local fare is what makes it so special – “Harvest showcases the really unique essence of the local wine making industry and personalities in it. And the location is stunning. It’s terrific to see the pure enjoyment of festival goers dancing and singing their hearts out to great songs among the trees”.

At Harvest, vineyards pair up with regional restaurants to produce a range of outstanding dishes. Festival goers can sample the fare till their heart’s content, and take their pick of wines from not only the larger, better known wineries of the region, but also from some of the area’s smaller, boutique producers. There’s plenty of time to meet the wine makers, and ample space to relax and soak up the live music and fun festival vibe.

The sheltered riverside setting is close to both Masterton and Carterton, which is only 1 hr 15 from Wellington, making it the perfect Wairarapa day out!

What’s more… proof of the region’s commitment to wine is demonstrated through an increase of new wine bars in the area, one of them being The Wine Bank in Martinborough. Situated in an 110 year old former BNZ building, there are self-service Wineemotion machines which contain an incredible variety of 64 vintages, allowing people to taste as they please.

There are also 5 tasting rooms, which are perfect for people in larger groups or intimate gatherings. 3/4 of the wines are local Wairarapa vintages with the remaining 1/4 being from wines around the country. This is most definitely an unforgettable and unique experience to be had by all!

The Datai Langkawi - the world's unparalleled rainforest resort

After 25 years in an expansive site of more than 46 acres, The Datai Langkawi is ready to reveal its newly refurbished interiors and facilities without compromising the Datai’s DNA, following a 12-month renovation programme.

When the late Australian architect, Kerry Hill, envisioned The Datai Langkawi’s main building on a forest ridge 40 metres above sea level and 300 metres away from the ocean in the heart of a 10-million-year-old rainforest, it was initially met with bewilderment. But he stood his ground, determined to preserve the pristine beauty of the coastline and unveil the hidden treasures of the rainforest. Assisting him was designer Didier Lefort of award-winning Paris-based design studio DL2A.

Today, the legacy of the extraordinary resort on the island of Langkawi has been reimagined, since its inception in 1993, into a global icon for new generations. The refreshed resort will offer guests nature- and culture-based experiences, promote Malaysian hospitality to the world, and reaffirm The Datai Langkawi as an unparalleled luxury destination.


The resort has 121 rooms, suites and villas, all with enchanting views of the lush tropical rainforest, some with the breath-taking vista of the Andaman Sea with Tarutao Island on the horizon. Escape to the perfect seclusion of a private sanctuary with the resort’s Canopy, Rainforest or Beach Collection.

Canopy Collection – Situated in the main buildings, the Canopy Deluxe and the Canopy Premium rooms are a delightful way to experience The Datai Langkawi and its stunning views and award-winning architecture. Perfect for guests who prefer to be near the spectacular main pool, The Dining Room and The Lobby Lounge. The Canopy Suites offer rare rainforest views from their spacious balconies, and also feature a separate living room with dining area and a very large bedroom. At 378 square metres (approximately 4,068 sqft), The Datai Suite is bathed in natural light, boasting unobstructed views of the rainforest and the Andaman Sea from an outdoor private veranda. The spacious indoor living space is furnished with neutral tones and elevated amenities.

Rainforest Collection – Tucked deep inside the lush tropical rainforest, the elegant Rainforest Collection villas,some with 10-metre infinity pools, are architecturally designed to be at one with Mother Nature. Standing proudly on stilts, The Rainforest Villas and Rainforest Pool Villas will offer scenic views of dense jungle or a tropical stream flowing along a meandering course.

The Datai Estate Villa – The Datai Estate Villa deserves a prominent introduction as the resort’s newest addition. With its expansive five-bedroom facility, spanning 3,500 square metres (approximately 37,700 sqft), the exclusive space features alluring neutral tones with modern furnishings, living rooms, game rooms, two 20-metre connected pools, 24-hour butler service, as well as a private chef.

Beach Collection – Located directly on the pristine white-sand beach of Datai Bay, the One-Bedroom Beach Villas and the Two-Bedroom Beach Villa are fully enclosed with serene garden views and inviting private swimming pools. The Beach Villas appeal to guests seeking privacy with personalised service from their butler.


Helmed by Executive Chef Stephen Jones and Executive Sous Chef Jérôme Voltat, Datai dining options abound and guests will enjoy a diverse selection of cuisine, inspired by regional flavours and centred around locally-sourced ingredients.

The Gulai House – Serving authentic Malaysian cuisine, The Gulai House is an award-winning restaurant tucked deep in the rainforest. The restaurant is reminiscent of a traditional Malay kampung (village) house where diners are welcome to bersila (sit on the floor) or at the rustic dining table to enjoy a Malaysian feast. A traditional hand-washing ritual is performed at the start of every meal.

The Pavilion – The signature Thai restaurant overlooks the serene tropical surroundings. Situated atop 30-metre stilts with far reaching views of the rainforest, Thai cuisine is celebrated with freshly harvested exotic herbs. The sight of the elusive flying colugo, a gliding mammal, will enhance any dining experience.

The Dining Room – A lavish spread for breakfast awaits diners, complete with a juice bar, freshly made pastries and breakfast specials. Lunch is served à la carte. The restaurant transitions into a romantic venue in the evening, serving French fine dining. Wine aficionados will delight in the restaurant’s exclusive wine collection from its walk-in wine cellar.

The Beach Club and The Beach Bar – A casual venue to enjoy convivial gatherings. Spend the day sipping signature cocktails and savouring fresh seafood, served from an outdoor show kitchen and an open grill, while sunset lights up the horizon with red and orange. At dinner, The Beach Club restaurant transforms into an elevated seafood grill restaurant with tables set on the various decks where guests can listen to the soothing sounds of the waves.

The Lobby Lounge – Overlooking the Andaman Sea and the rainforest, this open-air lounge is the ideal place to relax and take in the panoramic views. Delicious light snacks are available throughout the day and a premium selection of teas is served during the afternoon high tea. A splendid selection of cocktails, refined spirits and champagne is available in the evenings accompanied by a tapas menu and a live jazz duo.

Private Dining – To celebrate a special occasion, the resort can create a bespoke dinner experience, surrounded by the lush rainforest as the backdrop or directly on the white sandy beach.


The Datai Langkawi’s private footpath leads to dreamy Datai Bay’s idyllic white-sand beach, which was voted as one of the World’s Top Beaches by National Geographic. The resort is nestled in a virgin rainforest, home to a wealth of extraordinary biodiversity of flora and fauna. Against a backdrop of Southeast Asia’s oldest mountain, Machincang, its 750-hectare rainforest ‘back garden’ is every nature lover’s dream.

Led by renowned naturalist and author Irshad Mobarak, the completely new Nature Centre will encompass mini laboratories to enable guests, young and old, to discover more about the marine and rainforest environment that surrounds them, and will also allow them to participate in conservation and scientific research activities. Resident Naturalist Mobarak says, “The Nature Centre embodies our brand DNA of ‘Man and Nature in perfect harmony’. Our guests will have the opportunity to discover the unique flora and fauna of Teluk Datai through fun, educational nature walks and other activities led by our Nature Centre team, while learning more about conservation.”

Voted as one of the World’s Top 10 Beaches by National Geographic, The Datai Langkawi sits in extraordinary biodiversity and the 10-million-year-old rainforest is home to a wealth of flora and fauna. Against a backdrop of Southeast Asia’s oldest mountain, Machincang, its 750-hectare rainforest ‘back garden’ is every nature lover’s dream, just waiting to be discovered.

The Nature Centre – The design of this unique open-air structure is inspired by a tribal bamboo longhouse. There is a library full of references to the natural world of Langkawi and Malaysia, as well as a lounge for guests to sit and listen to stories from the wild by Resident Naturalist, Mobarak and his team. There is also a Tea Corner serving specially curated teas, by Dr. Ghani, Langkawi’s well-known traditional Malay medicine guru, using herbs and spices from plants native to the rainforest. These concoctions are not only delicious but also good for one’s health.

Nature activities – In addition to the many activities at The Datai Langkawi, the newest trail – The Rimba Trail – will have guests enjoy an informative walk that will transition from a coastal forest, on to a 70-metre-long elevated walkway over a mangrove habitat. The journey continues through a lowland rainforest, the highlight of which is a 23-metre-long, 18-metre-high Canopy Walk. There is also a selection of nature activities for children to discover.


To protect this unique natural habitat, sustainability is also a key component of the resort’s strategy with a strong commitment to using less energy, water and single-use plastic. For example, guests are provided with stainless steel drinking flasks for excursions to replace single-use plastic water bottles; sustainable bamboo toiletries are used in all rooms; and drinking straws are made of 100-percent natural bamboo or stainless steel.

The Hotel produces its own water from the newly-introduced water bottling plant. The Permaculture Garden is a self-sustaining, zero-waste, organic food production system. Its visitors can discover how saplings and seeds are saved at the Seedling Hut and learn about permaculture in the Outdoor Classroom. At the Organic Wealth Centre, organic waste is transformed into nutrition for the garden at the Worm Farm, where the worms decompose buffalo manure and food waste to produce bio-fertiliser.


In harmony with the resort’s unique natural surroundings, well-being at The Datai Langkawi means embracing the healing properties in plants found in the rainforest in accordance to age-old traditions and philosophies of the Malay culture known as Ramuan. A unique Malay concept, Ramuan, is referred to as the gathering of medicinal plants in its purest essence.

The Spa is situated along a small winding stream surrounded by the sounds and subtle aromatic scent of the rainforest. Focusing on aligning wellness with nature, The Spa has five treatment villas and one studio. The philosophy of beauty through health is complemented by the international expertise of Bastien Gonzalez and Phyto 5.

Bastian Gonzalez is renowned for his exceptional virtuosity and approach to hand and foot care, while Phyto 5’s innovative skincare delivers the ultimate holistic skincare experience.

The Els Club Teluk Datai – Golf legend and course designer, Ernie Els, launched this spectacular scenic golf course in 2014. The 18-hole par 72-championship golf course elevates The Datai Langkawi experience by providing a world-class arena for golfers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Water sports and recreation – The pristine beach and azure waters invite you to explore intricate marine life by snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing or sailing.

The Health Club – Work up a sweat while enjoying magnificent views of the Andaman Sea. The facility features a range of the latest indoor and outdoor sports equipment for tennis and cycling.

The Boutique – An extensive collection of locally inspired merchandise crafted by Malaysian artisans and designers.

The Atelier – In an effort to promote Malaysia’s arts and crafts to our guests, The Atelier provides a space for Malaysians artists to exhibit their creative artworks and conduct workshops or classes for the guests to share their creative techniques.

For more information or reservations, visit, email reservations@dataihotels.comor call+60 4 9500 500
Source: The Datai

Paul Bangay + Thomas Hamel at Cape Kidnappers: Classics Reinvented

With new ventures, projects and books under their belts, the “dream team of design” Paul Bangay and Thomas Hamel will return to Cape Kidnappers in 2019 for the first time in four years.

They’re ready to share their fresh and timeless design philosophies and passion with like-minded enthusiasts across an indulgent weekend of beauty, style, gardens and design, all set to the spectacular backdrop of The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

Paul’s gardens are renowned for their timeless elegance and classic simplicity, and his extensive projects throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well as Europe, North America and the West Indies, make him a major player on the international stage.

Thomas is equally international, and a master of the edit. Think rooms where layers and textures seamlessly interweave, and a crisp newness and serenity pervades – the Thomas Hamel hallmark!

Mix and mingle with Thomas and Paul over Craggy Range wines on Friday night as the weekend kicks off. Saturday’s programme includes inspired illustrated talks and lodge and property walks with Thomas and Paul as they share more aesthetic insights

International designer Thomas Hamel’s will discuss his passion for “Classics Reinterpreted” – fresh and modern takes on the enduring classic style. He’ll talk you through homes where his translations of the past evolve into inspirational and relevant designs for today’s living.

Landscape designer, garden guru and prolific author of countless books, Paul Bangay will discuss favourite projects and ideas for designing gardens of any size. With ideas from his soon to be published book “Small Garden Design”, Paul will showcase gardens of a range of scales – from country garden properties to chic city residences, to charming and clever rooftop terrace and balcony gardens for modern apartment living.

A special weekend highlight will be Saturday night’s tasting menu from Head Chef James Honore with wine matches from New Zealand’s iconic Craggy Range wines. Dinner will be hosted by the Peabody family owners, who will share their family’s story and passion, and their own classic reinterpretations of single vineyard and prestige collection wines.

Expect a weekend of fellowship and fun with these international savvy designers and a top family of wine!

The Classics Reinvented Weekend with Paul Bangay + Thomas Hamel is available at special event rates offering great value and fun. Event tariff is NZ$1,800 + GST per person, based on double occupancy and includes:

Two nights’ suite accommodation at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
Friday night welcome cocktail featuring a welcome by the weekend hosts Paul + Thomas
Pre-dinner drinks and canapes, full daily breakfast and complimentary non-alcoholic mini-bar
A la carte gourmet dinner on Friday
Presentations from Paul Bangay and Thomas Hamel
Tasting menu dinner on Saturday night, with wines to match from Craggy Range Wines.
Guest’s choice of a day of unlimited green fees OR a 50-minute spa treatment per person per stay.
More Event Series weekends at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs will be announced in early 2019.

Visit for more info.

For reservations at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers contact ph: + 64 9 407 0065 or email

Source: Roberts On Lodges

Dine Michelin-Star Style on Volcano in 2019

Sicily’s Therasia Resort Sea and Spa on Volcano has announced a ‘hot’ offer for guests to enjoy a degustation dinner prepared by awarded Chef Giuseppe Biuso at the resort’s one Michelin-Star restaurant, Il Cappero, when the resort reopens for the European summer in April 2019.

Set on Volcano, the southernmost of Sicily’s Aeolian Archipelago, Therasia Resort Sea and Spa juts out overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World the resort is home to the renowned Il Cappero serving up the finest traditional Sicilian cuisine with spectacular views towards the faraglioni of neighbouring Lipari.

This offer is available from April 2019 and includes a 5-course dinner per person in Il Cappero (beverages excluded) along with a host of other inclusions:

1 Relaxing massage per person (50 minutes, not for children)
1 Dinner (per person) served at “Il Cappero” 1 Michelin star Restaurant: 5 course Tasting Menu (beverage excluded)
Service charge and VAT
Buffet breakfast served at “L’Arcipelago” restaurant with sea-view terrace
Terrace solarium
Outdoor pool with hydro-massage and waterfall
Beach/pool towels
Indoor warm-water pool, Kneipp route and hydro-massage in the Spa centre
WI-FI internet connection in public areas and in the rooms
Daily shuttle service on arrival and departure, at fixed hours to/from the centre
Minibar (soft drinks)
Unattended car park
Check-in time at 2.00pm
Check-out time at 11.00am

Prices from $436 per night. Subject to availability and conditions apply.

For bookings and more information about Therasia Resort Sea and Spa contact The Unique Tourism Collection on 02 9211 6590 or email or

Source: Therasia Resort Sea and Spa