Time to explore what lies ‘beneath the surface’ at the Rockhampton River Festival
When most people think of Rockhampton, Australia they often think of beef and bulls interspersed with cowboys.
The Rockhampton River Festival will dispel this myth from July 9-12, when the Fitzroy riverside comes alive with a massive celebration of what lies ‘Beneath the Surface’ of the river, the region and the people who bring it to life.
Rockhampton Region Promotions Manager Sarah Reeves said, “The inaugural River Festival is a celebration of place that will delight, inspire and entertain along Australia’s second most important streetscape (as described by the National Trust).
“Every corner of the festival will reveal a hidden layer of this quintessential Queensland city – combining history with technology, laneways with art, family with community and entertainment with rejuvenation,” she said.
The program promises a quirky lineup that will change visitors’ perception of the famous Beef Capital.
“Our Melbournesque laneways will morph into a living story of our people, with multicultural pop up stalls, Portraits of a City, acoustic music from some of Central Queensland’s favourite artists and a suitcase rummage,” said Ms Reeves.
“We’re also bringing a bit of beach to the city as we turn the banks of the Fitzroy into Sandy Pauper Beach, a free area filled with street entertainers, rides and a host of food caravans that will remind families of beach holidays of old.
“The boardwalk hosts Bar Ramundi, the ultimate place to wine, dine and recline to soulful rhythms while indulging in a specially prepared menu of gourmet tapas and River Cocktails – limited spaces are available to sample the exclusive River Festival Muddy Water, Strawberry Cyclone or a Salty Croc.
“An interactive art program provides an opportunity for families to make and create with the assistance of local artists - celebrating our ancient indigenous culture through digital storytelling and the Big River Draw.
“The Mangrove Marketplace will host an array of stalls featuring goods and wares all crafted, baked, sewn or made by talented artists and craftspeople from across Central Queensland.
“The Cri Me a River stage is brought to us by the glorious Criterion Hotel (known affectionately as The Cri by locals), featuring a licensed main stage and a great line-up of rock and country music.
“Further down, the car park in front of the new Empire Apartment Hotel will be turned into a Gourmet Gazebo, hosting a gala dinner for Variety Children’s Charity with much needed proceeds going towards Rockhampton children.
With a number of luxury new accommodation options along the river, the Rockhampton River Festival is a great opportunity to discover what lies beneath the surface of this happening region.
To find out more about the festival visit:
Facebook: Rockhampton River Festival
Jacques Pepin turns 80
The International Culinary Centre [ICC]New York campus created a chocolate stove to celebrate Jacques Pepin’s 80th birthday in Washington in early April.
Jacques has had an amazing career as a chef, author, television star, and it was fitting that more than 600 members of the International Association of Culinary Professionals [IACP] celebrated the occasion.
Over 400 pounds (181 kg approximately) of chocolate were used to create the life-sized stove which was festooned with books, pots and pictures. It was created by the Dean of ICC - Jacques Torres and ICC Pastry Chef Jansen Chen, and it was totally amazing.
Food trucks in New York could soon face health inspectors
Health Department inspectors could soon be grading food trucks in New York if two Albany legislators have their way.
Senator Jose Peralta from Queens and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo from the Bronx have put forward a new bill recommending a taskforce be set up to monitor food hygiene standards of street vendors operating food trucks and street carts in the Big Apple to ensure pedestrians can enjoy safe dining from them.
Most street vendors are in favour of the bill.
Tiny fast food chain ruffles competition feathers with organic chicken
A tiny US-based fast food chain is making its presence felt among the bigger players by offering organic meat.
Elevation Burger is already the biggest fast food seller of organic beef despite only operating in 33 domestic locations.
So its plans to introduce organic chicken very shortly are starting to raise a few feathers especially from the big fast food chains.
Rick Altizer, CEO of Elevation Burger is in fact a former McDonald's regional executive.
He says: "Others are talking about it, but we're doing it. We are forcing the world's leading fast-food chain to change the way it operates."
And it seems the pressure from Elevation Burger and consumers may be having some influence with McDonald's announcing recently that it will stop using chicken treated with antibiotics commonly used by humans.
- USA Today
Late night chips no more after fire
A favourite late night fry spot in New York's East Village is no more after an explosion and fire ripped through the building that housed on the ground floor the 'chippie' and neighbouring sushi restaurant.
The tiny, Pommes Frites, a Belgium fry-spot was so popular among locals for an end-of-night serving of greasy fries that it was considered an instituation of East Village.
The thick-cut fries were cooked twice, firstly to cook through and then to add colour and crispness.
They could then be accompanied with a selection from the 28 sauces on offer including mild European mayonnaise to Sambal Olek.
Pommes Frites also laid claim to being one of the first places in New York to sell a decent poutine (a Canadian specialty of chips with gravy and cheese curd).
Since the fire, its customers have taken to social media lamenting its loss and that of Sushi Paris next door.
The owners of Pommes Frites have said that the fire left them no option but to close indefinitely but they hoped to open again some day.
Ears in your lobby
The popularity of digital check-in at hotels is having an impact on the amount of service that can be offered through lobby or concierge assistance, reports Hotels Mag.com
In India at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbia a female conciegre with a passion for picking up on a guest's needs in the 30 seconds or so that it takes them to arrive in the lobby and head to their room, having checked-in through free wi-fi on their way from the airport, is having a major influence on guest satification.
Due to the limited time such guests are in the lobby, providing extra assistance becomes quite difficult. However, at Four Seasons, Mumbai they've increased the number of concierge staff to simply keep an ear open and repsond immediately.
For example if someone mentions private dining or room service the concierge can approach them and take their order and send it to the kitchen using an app. By the time the guest is settling into their room the meal is already on its way.
Using a variety of apps, the concierge can provide the guest with menus, general information about the city or book restaurants, shows etc all while helping the guest to their room.
At the Four Seasons, Mumbai they now employ five conceirges to be the ears and assistance in their lobby. They say that women guests particularly appreciate the assistance, especially when it comes to advice on how to find their way around the city safely.
As a result their business has increased by 2.1% in the 12 months since adding extra concierge staff and the use of apps.
Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Jumeirah named ‘Best Hotel in the World’ by Daily Telegraph’s Ultratravel readers
London, 19 May 2015: On 18th May at the Daily Telegraph’s much coveted annual Ultimate Luxury Travel Related Awards (ULTRAs), Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the World’s Most Luxurious Hotel, was once again voted the Best Hotel in the World and Best Hotel in the Middle East.
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah was awarded the ‘Best Hotel in the World’ title, a new category added to the Awards in 2013, for the third year in a row. The award of ‘Best Hotel in the Middle East’ marked the ninth year in a row that Burj Al Arab Jumeirah has received this second accolade. The awards were collected by Gerald Lawless, President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group and Melanie Bisch, Assistant Guest Relations Manager of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.
Every year, the readers of Ultratravel, the Daily Telegraph's luxury-travel magazine, vote on 20 categories to select the best of luxury travel. The ULTRAs Reader Survey provides a unique and trusted source of advice to travellers worldwide. The awards recognise the best luxury hotels, airlines, cruise companies, spas and destinations globally.
Earlier in the day, at the 2015 Ultratravel Forum – in partnership with TTG Luxury -Jumeirah Group’s President and Group CEO Gerald Lawless took part in The Presidents’ Panel. This highlight of the Forum invited a panel of leaders in their field to discuss how they see the luxury landscape, how their product and experiences are changing and how they continue to adapt to ensure affluent travellers are attracted to their hotels and destinations.
Gerald Lawless said: “For Burj Al Arab Jumeirah to retain the crown of ‘Best Hotel in the Middle East’ for the ninth year running and ‘Best Hotel in the World’ for the third is a powerful endorsement of its status as the world's most luxurious hotel. On behalf of Jumeirah Group, the operator of this outstanding property, I would like to thank the readers of Ultratravel for their vote of confidence, our guests for their continuous support and our many colleagues who deliver the service for which the hotel is rightly renowned.”
The new normal in brand loyalty is here—are you in?
By Jena Tesse Fox
A recent survey conducted by USA Today found not only that loyalty programs can boost a company’s market share by as much as 20 percent, but also that customers say loyalty programs play a “pivotal role” in their booking decisions.
With this in mind, hotels have been finding new and unique ways to latch on to customers and keep them coming back again and again—but as more businesses offer more (and distinct) rewards, loyalty is becoming an increasingly elusive goal. Read more...
Secret Escapes offers 70 percent off luxury hotels
USA www.forbes.com (24/4/2015)
Times are booming for luxury hotels. Properties are being sold for record amounts. Occupancy percentages and room rates are increasing. In the past year, the Baccarat in New York went for $2 million per room, while Montage in Laguna Beach sold for $1.4 million per key.
With the wind in their sails, hotel developers have been looking to drive extra profits, cutting expenses by going it alone as independents (with lower brand fees), and the industry has been working hard to incent customers to book directly instead of through online travel agencies, saving commissions and marketing fees.
Prices to consumers have been rising as well. In big cities like New York it’s not unusual to find starting rates at five-star hotels at $500 per night, sometimes much more on a busy weekend. With the price of staying in haute hotels sometimes breaking four figures, perhaps that’s why U.K.-based Secret Escapes has signed up over one million U.S. based subscribers since launching last June for its free email deals service.
But why would hotels be interested in working a company whose basis is offering its product at 70 percent off rack rates, and even 30 or 40 percent below the OTAs?
Rob Day, a founding member and head of content says, the answer is easy. Even during these halcyon days, luxury hotels are running around a 70 percent occupancy rate. That means 30 percent of rooms go unused. Like an airline seat, hotel rooms are a perishable inventory, and he works with the hotels to drive business during the nights and periods the hotel would not have been sold out. Read more...
Limo drivers conduct survey in Saudi Arabia
A particular hotel in Al Qasr, Saudi Arabia has enlisted its limo drivers to conduct a guest survey while delivering the guests to the airport.
It sees the time spent in the limo as important to its business as the first and last chance to make an impression.
When collected from the airport, guests are welcomed by the limo driver with a greeting in the local language, then offered a bottle of chilled water, refreshing face towel and gift-wrapped fresh dates.
When they depart though, the travel time is used to assess whether they have enjoyed their stay through a series of questions that start with helpful checks such as: "Have you got your airline tickets? and "Did you empty your room mini safe?".
As the journey continues the driver will ask a series of questions about the hotel dispersed amongst general questions such as: "Did you see some of our local cutural attractions? Did you find the hotel staff friendly and helpful? Did you enjoy our breakfasts and what did you eat? Did you use the spa? How did you find our wi-fi service? Did you try some Saudi specialty foods? and "How did you find the local people?"
The comments from the guests are then passed onto management at the hotel and used to make changes where neccesary and to provide added service.
Silent dining missing a key point
According to a just released UK research document looking at how our senses affect our consumption pleasure, hearing how our food sounds is a lost sense that we need to ulitise more.
Eating with our ears: assessing the importance of the sounds of consumption on our perception and enjoyment of multisensory flavour experiences by Charles Spence found that sound was a forgotten sense when eating and yet sounds likes the crunch of crispy bacon, or an apple or the fizz of a soft drink or Champagne actually increased the pleasure of consuming.
The report says: The latest techniques from the field of cognitive neuroscience are revolutionising our understanding of just how important what we hear is to our experience and enjoyment of food and drink. A growing body of research now shows that by synchronising eating sounds with the act of consumption, one can change a person’s experience of what they think that they are eating.
If the report is to be taken seriously then the international trend of silent restaurants is totally missing the mark and it might be worth considering offering your diners an app with the sounds of your food cooking instead!
Funnily enough, Haagen-Dazs, a speciality ice cream store in New York has already developed an app that allows you to listen to a concerto at the rate your ice cream softens.
Baseball team gets its own Bloody Mary
US baseball team, Minnesota Twins will this season have its own Bloody Mary to keep its fans satisfied but it's not quite what you'd expect from a Bloody Mary.
Known as College Dazes Bloody Mary, the 'cocktail' is made with a Bud Light Beer base and includes a beef stick, chunks of cheddar cheese, olives, a banana pepper and wait for it....an entire slice of pepperoni pizza as its garnish!