Thousands rally as Hong Kong braces for democracy showdown

first_img Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories HONG KONG (AP) — Thousands of people, many holding yellow umbrellas, marched in Hong Kong on Sunday to urge lawmakers to vote down Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year, although the turnout was lower than organizers had expected.With a crucial vote on the southern Chinese financial hub’s political future days away, pro-democracy supporters marched to city government headquarters to rally support for a veto of the government’s electoral reform package. How do cataracts affect your vision? Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Friday that the proposal was “in line with Hong Kong’s current circumstances, taking into account the interests of and appeals from different social groups and sectors in Hong Kong.”Authorities had been bracing for renewed tensions, fearing that protesters would again try to occupy roads, though organizers have ruled out such action. On Saturday, police removed objects such as bricks and metal bars from protesters’ tents outside the government complex.Last year’s student-led protest movement caught the world’s attention with its mostly peaceful street demonstrations. Protesters said China was reneging on a promise that the city’s top leader would be chosen through “universal suffrage” agreed when Communist leaders negotiated the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from Britain.___Associated Press writer Louise Watt in Beijing contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility At issue is how Hong Kongers will choose their top leader, who’s currently hand-picked by a panel of Beijing-friendly elites. Under the reforms to be put before lawmakers starting Wednesday, the government proposal would allow direct elections for the first time but also require screening of candidates by the panel.Pro-democracy activists — who caught the world’s attention last autumn by occupying parts of the city for 11 weeks to demand greater electoral freedom, turning umbrellas and the color yellow into symbols of their movement — have blasted the proposals as “sham democracy” and called for genuine universal suffrage.The organizers of the protest, including the Civil Human Rights Front, student groups and pro-democracy political parties, estimated that 3,500 people took part, far less than the 50,000 expected. Police said 3,140 joined.People marching in the blazing afternoon heat chanted “I want genuine democracy” and “Veto fake universal suffrage.” A large yellow banner mounted on a truck read “The citizens against pseudo-universal suffrage campaign.”“I hope that they will bring out another proposal that can be accepted by Hong Kong people,” said Louis Cheung, a 54-year-old writer. “It’s impossible to have an election without the Hong Kong public’s opinion and say Hong Kong has universal suffrage. This is impossible to accept.”last_img read more

Man of peace to become Afghan wartime defense minister

first_img“IS have their own aggressive plans and, for us, both IS and the Taliban are dangerous, but we should not give any opportunities to IS” to gain a foothold, he said.A hot summer of fighting had been expected in the southern Taliban belt. With the first signs of an unfolding peace process, expected to take years, emerging with intermittent informal talks, both insurgents and the government appear to want to gain an advantage on the battlefield.___Associated Press writer Mirwais Khan contributed to this story.___Follow Lynne O’Donnell on Twitter at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Quick workouts for men Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The Taliban are threatening major cities and overrunning remote districts, attacking “on a greater scale, with full force and in many places at once,” said Muhammad Jan Rasul Yar, the deputy governor of southern Helmand province.“They have managed to conquer and capture many districts,” he said, adding that desertions among government forces are rising.“More than 100 districts across the country are vulnerable to being overrun by the Taliban every day,” said a central government official familiar with the security situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. “Every day across Afghanistan you have 10, 15, 17, 25 direct clashes between the insurgents and government forces, and now that is happening in areas where there was no serious threat before.”The new battleground is the previously peaceful north, where local warlords have largely been able to keep the Taliban out, but where the new insurgent tactics are proving a match for government forces.A year-old Pakistani military campaign in the frontier region of North Waziristan has pushed many militants across the border into Afghanistan, where they have joined the Taliban’s warm-weather offensive. Afghan officials say these fighters helped the Taliban come close to taking the capital of the northern Kunduz province, bordering Tajikistan, in late April when thousands of gunmen overran villages within just a few kilometers (miles) of the city. FILE – In this May 21, 2015 file photo, Afghan local militiamen ride a pick-up truck in Talawka village in Kunduz province, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. War-torn Afghanistan may soon have a defense minister, nine months after the new government was formed and amid some of the toughest fighting since the Talban’s insurgency began 14 years ago. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall His appointment will complete President Ashraf Ghani’s Cabinet and finally bring what one Western military official called “strong, positive, legitimate civilian leadership” to the military as it tackles an invigorated Taliban without the backing of international forces, which ended their combat mission last year.The official was not authorized to speak publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.Stanekzai takes the job as the Taliban are redefining their war against Kabul, joining forces with other militant groups and spreading the fight to every corner of the country. A change in tactics has taken Afghan security forces by surprise and forced them to spread ever-thinner as their casualty rates soar.NATO figures show that between January 1 and May 7, Afghan security forces saw a 63 percent increase in those killed and wounded in action as the Taliban spread across the country from their traditional strongholds in the east and south bordering Pakistan.The figures show 2,322 army, police and local security personnel were killed during that period, 53 percent more than the same period in 2014. From the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban until the drawdown at the end of last year, America lost 2,217 soldiers. Top Stories center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Sponsored Stories KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — War-torn Afghanistan may soon have a defense minister, nine months after the new government was formed and amid some of the toughest fighting since the Talban’s insurgency began 14 years ago.Masoom Stanekzai is better known as a peacemaker than a battlefield strategist, having led the High Peace Council negotiating body charged with ending the conflict with the Taliban, but now he is directing the war. He is expected to be confirmed soon by parliament, though the law allows him to assume the post in an acting capacity. In early June, militants overran a remote district in northern Badakhshan province, which borders Pakistan, China and Tajikistan, displaying the strategy being played out across the country: surprise attacks by large numbers of fighters who overwhelm poorly-manned checkpoints and take control of districts, if only temporarily.Stanekzai will also have to contend with the small but growing presence of militants pledging support for the Islamic State group. Several Afghan officials have said IS is putting down roots in some regions, notably in Zabul, where Islamic militants from other factions have declared allegiance to the group. One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to media, said small IS training camps have been set up in Zabul, as well as Badghis and Faryab further north.The commander of NATO’s western command in Afghanistan, Italian Brig. Gen. Michele Risi, said IS had established a presence in the western Farah province bordering Iran, and that its operatives originally had attempted to ally with the Taliban. “But they were rejected,” he said, and clashes erupted between the two groups in late May.Most Afghan military officials say the IS presence is more a case of disaffected Taliban raising the black flag to rebrand themselves, rather than an established institutional presence. “There are some Taliban misusing the IS flag for their own interests,” said the national head of the Afghan Border Police, Maj. Gen. Rahmattullah Raufi. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

Sky of the Tiger flights resume

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Tiger Airways is back in action down under, resuming domestic services between Melbourne and Sydney earlier today.The moves comes after almost six weeks of being grounded after the carrier’s Air Operator’s Certificate was revoked by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for being a safety hazard in the sky. Demonstrating its new found safety of the low-budget airline, Tiger advised that its chief executive Tony Davis and newly appointed safety advisor captain Chris Manning would be part of the first flight to take off from Melbourne.The carrier told the public yesterday that as it returns to operations it would operate under a reduced schedule for the time being. last_img read more

HK plans 15 year Aus establishment celebrations

first_imgThe Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office and its affiliates are preparing for big celebrations down under as it marks the 15 year anniversary since establishing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.Announced last night, the Group said events in Sydney would commence on 28 June with activities in the Hong Kong House and on the streets of Sydney. Among the celebrations include a free display laser show called, the Symphony of Lights between twilight and midnight along with the International Chinese Film Festival at Events Cinema on George St.Keep an eye on e-Travel Blackboard for more information otherwise check out Hong Kong in Australia and New Zealand’s Facebook page for event photos. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Best Deluxe 5 Star Award tops winning week for Brisbanes Emporium Hot

first_imgSource = Kath Rose & Associates Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel has bookended the week with two major wins as the country’s leader in deluxe boutique accommodation. Last Friday evening the independently owned, internationally acclaimed hotel was crowned – for the fourth time – Best Boutique Hotel in Australia, at the prestigious Hospitality Management (HM) Awards for Excellence in Sydney; and last night the title of Best Deluxe Hotel, 5 Star+ was won at the 2012 Queensland Hotels Association Awards for Excellence. At the Queensland industry’s night of nights, Emporium Hotel triumphed over some of the best Deluxe Hotel offers in the state including Sheraton Mirage, Sofitel Brisbane, Hilton Cairns and Spicers Clovelly. Last Sunday evening finalists against the Emporium Hotel included Sydney’s The Establishment, Henry Jones Art Hotel, Spicers Balfour, The Observatory and Diamant Canberra among others. Emporium Hotel General Manager, Peter Savoff, pointed directly to his team for the week of wins. “What a week for the Emporium Hotel and for Brisbane! Being acknowledged as the best boutique hotel in Australia and the best deluxe accommodation in Queensland in the one week is extraordinary. I pay full tribute to our incredible team of passionate professionals, a team I am privileged to work with every day, in achieving these Awards; and of course to the owners the Anthony John Group and Tony and Fran John who conceived and designed this great place,” he said. “We also acknowledge our fellow finalists and the way they have set and exceeded the bar for service, design and luxury – something we all aim for. In this sector of tourism, Australia is being reignited a leading light and it is an exciting time for us all.”The Queensland Hotels Association award joins a raft of others on the hotel’s manetlepiece; however Savoff remains focused as always on guest satisfaction. “The greatest barometer of our success will always remain with our guests,” he said. The awards come in a week when the hotel announced a new package for the leisure market – the Lexus Lazy Afternoon package – with indulgence as its muse, Queensland’s stunning Great South East as the canvas, and Spring as the inspiration. The package combines the hotel with the driving experience of the latest, stunning Lexus IS 250C convertible, allowing guests to escape on the open road to one of South East Queensland’s picturesque locations for an indulgent picnic like no other. Since opening its intricately designed doors in June 2007, the hotel has dominated industry and travel awards, being named one of the world’s best new hotels in the International Conde Nast Travellers Hotlist and taking out titles at the Queensland Tourism Awards, the Queensland and Australian Hotels Association Awards, the HM Awards for Excellence, two Gourmet Traveller Awards, and more.Everything about the Emporium Hotel is designed to pamper. Hidden in the hotel lobby is a stunning Cocktail Bar incorporating a fusion of vintage and custom-designed pieces matched by an eclectic Cocktail Menu. There are also a stunning range of exquisite experiences guests can order through Concierge, from massages to shopping, dining and more. Located in the heart of Brisbane’s stylish Emporium precinct – a haven for lovers of fashion and food – the Hotel is just minutes from the Brisbane CBD and close to the Brisbane Cruise Terminal, airports and arterials. last_img read more

Shamwari Group Presented with 3 World Travel Awards

first_imgAt the 19th World Travel Awards Grand Final Gala Ceremony in New Delhi, India, which took place on 12 December 2012, Shamwari Group was presented with three awards for 2012 – the World’s Leading Conversation Company and the World’s Leading Private Game Reserve for Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape and the World’s Leading Eco-Lodge for the eco-luxurious Dwyka Tented Lodge at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve situated outside Cape Town, South Africa.Comments Shamwari Group General Manager, Joe Cloete: “It’s a great honour to be presented with three prestigious awards for Shamwari Group and a beautiful way to end a successful year of conservation awareness. For 2013 we plan on continuing to fly the conservation flag and educating the next generations of ‘caretakers’ of our planet.”Established 19 years ago, World Travel Awards is committed to raising the standards of customer service and overall business performance throughout the international tourism industry. Source = Shamwari Grouplast_img read more

SWISS receives its first Boeing 777300ER and opens new lounge

first_imgSWISS receives its first Boeing 777-300ER and opens new loungeThe first of the nine Boeing 777-300ERs which SWISS has ordered arrived at Zurich Airport on time in the morning of Jan 29th following its delivery flight. The aircraft, which bears the registration HB-JNA, was welcomed with the loud applause of a large crowd of aviation fans and other keen spectators. The youngest – and biggest – member of the SWISS fleet was flown directly to Zurich from Boeing’s Everett Factory in the state of Washington in the USA. On board the flight, appropriately numbered LX 7771, were a delegation of the SWISS Management Board along with media representatives and further guests.Official hangar presentationIn the afternoon SWISS invited its top customers, politicians, representatives of the authorities, journalists and business partners to a first viewing of the new long-haul twinjet. In SWISS configuration the Boeing 777-300ER offers 340 seats: eight in First Class, 62 in Business Class and 270 in Economy Class. The totally newly-designed cabin interior of the new SWISS fleet flagship offers top comfort and visual appeal in all three classes.Boeing 777 passengers will also enjoy wireless internet connectivity aloft, the first time this has been offered on SWISS flights. The new “SWISS Connect” internet option offers a choice of three data packages costing between CHF 9 and CHF 39 to meet customers’ varying internet needs. SWISS First travellers will be offered a 50MB package on each flight free of charge. As a further part of its new on-board internet facility, SWISS will also be offering an inflight phoning option (including SMS text messages and data transmission) using roaming technology for a trial one-year period.Deployment on intercontinental routes SWISS’s new Boeing 777-300ERs will gradually enter revenue service from the start of the 2016 summer schedules. They will largely be deployed on services to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Los Angeles, San Francisco, São Paulo and Tel Aviv.Three new SWISS Lounges in Zurich’s Terminal EOn the same day as the arrival of its first new Boeing 777-300ER, SWISS also unveiled a new dimension in lounge facilities at Zurich Airport. In a formal ceremony morning of Jan 29th the new First Class, Senator and Business Class Lounges in the airport’s Terminal E were officially opened.Extending over more than 3,300 square metres and located conveniently close to its long-haul departure gates, the new lounges feature an innovative zonal concept for the comfort and convenience of SWISS’s premium guests: open areas in which to sit and simply enjoy the stay, working areas with secluded workplaces and rest zones equipped with specially-developed seating offering genuine relaxation.The new lounges’ culinary highlights include “front cooking” areas where the chefs prepare selected fresh meals right in front of the guest, while the Senator Lounge boasts an exclusive Whisky Bar offering over 120 different whiskies. The SWISS First Lounge even features its own version of a five-star à la carte restaurant: whatever the time of day, guests can select the meal of their choice from an extensive menu.All three lounges have access to a terrace with great views of the airport and the Swiss Alps beyond. And guests in the First Class Lounge can even enjoy a tasty fondue or raclette on the terrace in the winter months as they take in the spectacular vistas.Source = SWISSlast_img read more

Best Western unveils spectacular hotel in Malaysias Genting Highlands

first_imgSource = Best Western International – Asia About Best Western Hotels & ResortsBest Western® Hotels & Resorts headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., is a privately held hotel brand with a global network of 4,100* hotels in more than 100* countries and territories worldwide. Best Western offers seven hotel brands to suit the needs of developers and guests in every market: Best Western®, Best Western Plus®, Best Western Premier®, Executive Residency by Best Western℠, Vīb®, BW Premier Collection® and GLōSM. Now celebrating 70 years of hospitality, Best Western provides its hoteliers with global operational, sales and marketing support, and online and mobile booking capabilities. More than 26 million travelers are members of the brand’s award-winning loyalty program Best Western Rewards®, one of the few programs in which members earn points that never expire and can be redeemed at any Best Western hotel worldwide. The brand’s partnerships with AAA/CAA, Minor League Baseball, and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. Best Western continues to set industry records regarding awards and accolades, including Business Travel News naming Best Western as the best midscale hotel brand in 2014 and Best Western Plus as the best upper mid-price hotel brand in 2014 and 2015, four consecutive Compuware Best of the Web gold awards for best hotel website, and seven consecutive AAA/CAA Hotel Partner of the Year awards. Nearly 60 percent of Best Western branded hotels earned a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award in 2015.* Numbers are approximate, may fluctuate, and include hotels currently in the development pipeline. Best Western Best Western Premier Genting Ion DelemenBest Western unveils spectacular hotel in Malaysia’s Genting HighlandsThe brand new Best Western Premier Genting Ion Delemen is nestled into the lush jungle-clad hills of Pahang state, in the center of the Malay Peninsula. As well as providing the perfect natural retreat for both Malaysian and international visitors, the new hotel is also on the doorstep of multiple attractions, such as Chin Swee Cave Temple and Genting’s Resorts World, which features a large theme park, casino and Malaysia’s longest cable car ride.In addition, two large retails malls are due to open in the area later this year, and the world’s first 20th Century Fox theme park is scheduled to welcome visitors in 2017.Best Western Premier Genting Ion Delemen is operated by Ion Delemen Hospitality Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the NCT Group of Companies.“The Genting Highlands is becoming a must-visit destination, not only for Malaysian travellers wanting a break from the city, but also for a rising number of international guests,” said Olivier Berrivin, Best Western Hotels & Resorts’ Managing Director of International Operations – Asia. “With beautiful natural scenery, an array of world-class attractions and 20th Century Fox World on track to open next year, there are now multiple reasons to visit.“Our impressive new hotel, Best Western Premier Genting Ion Delemen, will provide contemporary and stylish upscale accommodation for visitors. And with its outstanding collection of upscale facilities and incredible setting, the hotel is likely to become a destination its own right,” Mr Berrivin added.Scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2016, Best Western Premier Genting Ion Delemen will offer a collection of rooms, ranging from studios to one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, all featuring separate living areas, bedrooms and kitchenettes. All rooms will offer modern amenities including flat-screen TVs, international power outlets and complimentary Wi-Fi, as well as spacious bathrooms and large windows that overlook the lush Titiwangsa Mountains.This brand new hotel also incorporates a vast array of amenities. There are no fewer than six restaurants and bars, most of which offer floor-to-ceiling windows or al fresco seating areas that merge seamlessly with the natural surroundings. There is also a sky garden, a heated swimming pool, luxurious spa, fully-equipped fitness center, children’s play area, and extensive space and conferences and events.Guests will also be able to access the Genting Highlands’ many other attractions – including Resorts World – using the hotel’s complimentary shuttle bus service.Best Western Hotels & Resorts currently operates three hotels in Malaysia, located in Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya and Ipoh. Best Western Premier Genting Ion Delemen will become the company’s second upscale hotel in the central mountains of the Malay Peninsula, following the spectacular Best Western Premier The Haven Ipoh.last_img read more

Kauri Cliffs voted 1 Resort in Australia New Zealand

first_imgKauri CliffsKauri Cliffs voted “#1 Resort in Australia & New Zealand”The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is the number one hotel in Australia & New Zealand, as voted by Travel + Leisure readers in the publication’s World’s Best Awards 2017. The prestigious accolade was announced overnight by the US-based magazine, which is considered one of the world’s leading travel publications.With this most recent award coming more than 15 years after Kauri Cliffs first opened, it stands as a testament to the enduring style and timeless elegance of this much-loved New Zealand lodge. Since opening to international acclaim in 2001, Kauri Cliffs has set a benchmark for a relaxed and laid-back style of authentic luxury that is both quintessentially New Zealand, yet sophisticated and world-class in the overall experience.Starting with a dream location and idyllic property just north of the Bay of Islands, the Robertson family delivered on their vision to create a destination lodge that delivers enriching experiences that showcase the stunning region it inhabits.Guests at Kauri Cliffs can discover the remarkable Northland coast by helicopter with chartered and group flights travelling over the Bay of Islands, north to Cape Reinga or across to Tane Mahuta, Lord of the Forest. This unique opportunity to see some of New Zealand’s most beautiful coastal and island scenery draws discerning travellers from around the world.Add to the offering the ability to hook a snapper from one of the lodges three private beaches, to enjoy a gourmet private barbeques on the lodge’s stunning pink beach, to play the world-ranked golf course and to savour Relais & Chateaux food and wine offerings, and Kauri Cliffs is a complete package.“To be named the number one resort, particularly in a country like New Zealand where the ‘luxury lodge’ phenomenon was born and the accommodation bar is set high, says a lot about the experience at Kauri Cliffs,” said Euan Taylor, Chief Operating Officer. “We offer a very personal, warm and tailored style of hospitality where guests really do come first, and it is a heartfelt honour to the entire team to be recognised as Number One across Australia and New Zealand.”Kauri Cliffs is the flagship and first in what is now a trio of leading New Zealand lodges owned by New York-based financier and philanthropist Julian H. Robertson and family. After the success of Kauri Cliffs, the Robertsons built sister lodge, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, which opened in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in 2007. They later purchased an existing South Island lodge on the banks of Lake Wakitipu in Queenstown, and after an extensive rebuild and renovation Matakauri Lodge was opened to acclaim in 2010.Robertson and his late wife Josie have a long love affair with New Zealand, first moving here for a sabbatical year in the late 1970’s. Some sixteen years later, when Robertson was offered for purchase the 5000-acre sheep and cattle property that is now Kauri Cliffs, he and the family didn’t hesitate.Building The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs took long-term vision and was a true labour of love for the Robertson family. In planning, designing and building the main lodge, accommodation suites and the golf course, every detail was carried through with a perfectionist’s eye. Josie Robertson worked in close collaboration with designer Virginia Fisher on all aspects of the exterior and interior design. Legendary golf course designer David Harman travelled to the property a reputed 46 times from his business base in Orlando, Florida to ensure that the Kauri Cliffs’ course was absolute world class.The result speaks for itself. Travel + Leisure’s 2017 World’s Best Award – Number One Resort in New Zealand and Australia; The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is timeless, classic and much loved by guests from New Zealand and around the world.In somewhat of a trifecta, Kauri Cliffs’ sister properties, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and Matakauri Lodge were also named in the Top 5 Resorts in Australia & New Zealand, at #2 (Cape Kidnappers), and #5 Matakauri Lodge. The trio are the only New Zealand properties in the top five. Source = Travel + Leisurelast_img read more

Old school travel management is the way of the future

first_imgFor a disclaimer on this article, please go to the end of the document Read Old school travel management is the way of the futureFiji 1981.Domestic transfer from Adelaide to Sydney, Sydney to Nadi, six hours of 747, poorly projected movie piped audio headphones. I was six years old. An analog world. Fiji had no television. Unmade roads.Total old school.36 years has seen digitisation in the industry with next stop “AI” challenging the place of humans. I’ve been back to Fiji five times and seen the good and bad impacts of technology. Having just gotten home from visit 6, I’ve had my eyes reopened to the value of a slower pace and the value of old school.Enter Peter Hopgood, jovial, smiling, personable and incredibly successful GM of the Outrigger Coral Coast in Fiji. Old school is his thing.“A lot of hotels have forgotten that old school definition of what is important – your staff and your guests. A lot of managers find themselves stuck in an office filling out reports all day. They aren’t engaged with the business and that’s what hospitality is all about – get out there, show your guests around, talk with your staff.”It’s a tricky one because as managers we are taught to become more efficient, delegate, understand the numbers, rise above the menial,  tweak here and there. Is that too hands off? But how often do we walk around our own business? How often do we sit with one of our staff and say “hey, what’s up?” When was the last time you contacted a customer and said “hey, just checking you are happy – how’s it going?”. If you did, did you talk about how wonderful your business was, or how great your staff were ?Peter is not just talking the talk here. On any given day around the pool I would see himself or EAM Lindsey Palmer chatting with staff and greeting guests. A smile, acknowledgement and an introduction to the staff member they were speaking to. We chatted at a cocktail party about managing the staff.“Conveying the urgency of a situation or the key messages of a drama across cultures can be challenging. Getting upset, frustrated or raising my voice doesn’t help. If I start getting angry, I walk away for 15 minutes and calm down. Getting back to the basics, getting the staff member perspective and building the solution is a very positive way forward.  ”These positive old school attitudes reflect across every staff member at the Outrigger. I have two other favourite hotels around the world, but the key difference between them and the Outrigger was the soul.To have soul you need life, to have life you need a heartbeat. Heart, soul and warmth in this case come from great managers who are embracing an amazing culture. And it works.In the eight years since Peter has been general manager of the Outrigger, it’s gone from a “tired old girl” to being the highest occupancy properties across all of Fiji ; in Peter’s words, from being the Hunter to the hunted.  Worse problems to have!Everything old is new again, Old School is back.  Can you bring the old school back into your business?DISCLAIMER: For Christmas 2017 I travelled with my mum, wife and daughter for a seven night flop and drop in Fiji at the Outrigger on the Coral Coast. I took the back of house tour and then spent an hour interviewing GM Peter Hopgood. These articles speak in glowing terms of Peter and the Outrigger, but neither myself nor roomsXML have received any payment, discount of travel or any other financial benefit for these articles. In short, it’s a great hotel run by a great team that we can all learn a lot from so here we are. roomsXML – More Suppliers, Hot Deals learn more about here Source = roomsXML.comlast_img read more

New Vibe Hotel open in North Sydney

first_imgSource = TFE Hotels New Vibe Hotel open in North SydneyNew Vibe Hotel open in North SydneyTFE Hotels has opened the doors to the stunning new Vibe Hotel North Sydney in the North Shore’s most exciting new social address, as Vibe Hotels expands its portfolio from eight to twelve hotels. Hotel guests have access to a rooftop pool and Northpoint’s exciting new eat street and casual dining atrium. A rooftop bar will open later in the year, adding a major drawcard to the area’s nightlife scene, in Cromwell’s redevelopment.The hotel features 187 contemporary guest rooms, with a Sydney Harbour-inspired design by Nettleton Tribe that draws on external cues and plenty of natural light and street views. The hotel is a drawcard for corporate groups and business travellers, with four flexible meeting rooms offering conferencing capacity of 110, free Wi-Fi and great fitness facilities.Cromwell Property Group’s newly reimagined Northpoint development includes the hotel and a new retail precinct packed with specialty stores, as well as an exciting new array of dining offerings, with Joe & The Juice, Poked and Zeus Greek Street already opened. It’s all in the heart of the suburb’s existing cafes and shops and close to the train station. Northpoint offers a well-connected hub for work, lifestyle and convenience, with a range of boutiques and a Woolworths supermarket on site.TFE Hotels CEO Rachel Argaman said the hotel and the development were much-needed additions to the North Shore and marked a great year for the Vibe Hotels brand, which is growing from eight hotels to twelve. The Vibe Hotels brand launched in Sydney in 2003 with the opening of Vibe Hotel Rushcutters Bay, which was followed by three more hotels in Sydney, Hobart and Melbourne the next year. Hotels opened later at Darwin Waterfront, Canberra Airport, which has since won multiple design awards, and at Marysville near Victoria’s Yarra Valley, which has a beautiful bushland outlook and conference centre.“We have three more stunning new Vibe Hotels under construction at Queen Street in Melbourne, Argyle Street in Hobart and Sussex Street in Darling Harbour, so it’s a very exciting time for the brand,” Ms Argaman said. “We are about to unveil a multi-million dollar refurbishment at Vibe Hotel Gold Coast with a beautiful coast-meets-hinterlands design scheme and we are completely transforming Vibe Hotel Sydney in Goulburn Street, Sydney, adding a new dining offering, Storehouse Sydney Central.”Vibe Hotels are where lifestyle, design and technology come together as one, so guests can connect and disconnect as they wish. Experiences are designed to be shared, with spaces and activities to enrich each guest during their stay. Immersive design and innovation corresponds to the spirit of the millennial mindset.ABOUT VIBE HOTELSVibe Hotels are where lifestyle, design and technology come together as one, so guests can connect and disconnect as they wish. Experiences are designed to be shared, with spaces and activities to enrich each stay. Immersive design and inspirational hubs bring people together, whether it is for quality time with loved ones or to connect with other guests. At Vibe Hotels, guests can inspire their inner foodie or nourish their creativity. These hotels have innovation and modern design at their hearts, corresponding to the spirit of the millennial mindset. Vibe Hotels are in nine locations: Melbourne, Sydney, Rushcutters Bay Sydney, North Sydney, Gold Coast, Darwin Waterfront, Canberra and Marysville (Victoria). Three more next generation Vibe Hotels are under construction in 2018 – Argyle Street in Hobart; Queen Street in Melbourne; and Sydney’s Darling Harbour.  Major refurbishments will be unveiled soon at the Gold Coast and Goulburn Street in Sydney.last_img read more

Solomon Airlines launches major east coast advertising campaign

first_imgSolomon Airlines www.flysolomons.comSolomon Airlines launches major east coast advertising campaignDesigned to create greater awareness of the Solomon Islands, Solomon Airlines has embarked on an east coast Australia print, radio and digital advertising campaign promoting the destination’s spectacular diving, surfing, and fishing.Targeting consumers in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, as part of the campaign Solomon Airlines has combined resources with the Agnes Gateway Hotel in Munda and the highly specialized Dive Munda to offer a value-added seven-night fly/stay dive package.The package includes return economy airfares – full service on board Solomon Airlines’ international flights – seven nights twin share accommodation at Agnes Gateway Hotel and six-days/12 tank dives with Dive Munda.Flights from Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney operated by interline partner Qantas Airways connect directly with Solomon Airlines’ Brisbane-Munda via Honiara Saturday services.Package pricing as follows:Ex-Brisbane        from $2098 per person twin share*Ex-Sydney          from $2390 per person twin share*Ex-Canberra      from $2456 per person twin share*Ex-Melbourne   from $2477 per person twin share*While drawing attention to Munda’s world-class diving, the campaign has also been geared to create awareness of the many ‘destinations within the destination’ and the multi-faceted travel options the Solomon Islands offers the Australian public – and all within three hours flying time from the eastern states.These areas include Gizo and Seghe in the Western Province and Suavanao in Santa Isabel, all of which readily connected with the airline’s Munda service.Full details can be found at*Conditions apply. Valid for sale from now until 16 July 2018. Valid for travel from now until 21 July 2018.Source = Solomon Airlineslast_img read more

AccorHotels launches the first ibis in Hyderabad

first_imgAccorHotels announced the opening of ibis Hyderabad HITEC City, taking the group’s presence to five hotels in the city. The group is now the largest hotel operator in Hyderabad with a room inventory of over a thousand rooms. The opening of its first economy hotel in the global city of Hyderabad marks a milestone for AccorHotels with 42 hotels in India across a well-rounded portfolio of luxury, midscale, boutique and in-demand economy brands.ibis Hyderabad HITEC City features 178 well-appointed rooms and is strategically located in the heart of HITEC city, the largest IT Park in the country. The hotel is a short drive from the Hyderabad International Convention Centre making it the preferred destination for the MICE market.Jean-Michel Cassé, Senior Vice President, Operations, AccorHotels India, said, “The opening of the ibis Hyderabad HITEC City marks a strategic milestone growth for the group. With 42 hotels now operating in the country, ibis Hyderabad HITEC City is our fifth hotel in the city and our second hotel to open in Hyderabad this year. We have the largest growing collection of midscale and in-demand economy brands presence in the city.”“We are proud to introduce the ibis brand to the city of Hyderabad. ibis Hyderabad HITEC City embodies the brand’s renowned hallmarks of comfort, service, well-equipped rooms and modern design. We look forward to extending the ibis signature service to guests travelling to the city,” said Rubin Cherian, General Manager, ibis Hyderabad HITEC City.last_img read more

Barbados signs a visa waiver agreement with China

first_imgThe Caribbean nation Barbados has signed a visa waiver agreement with China, which would allow citizens of both the countries to enter each other’s territory with an ordinary passport and no entry visa.Following the initialisation of a reciprocal agreement three years ago that removed visa requirements for holders of diplomatic, official and service passports, the agreement was officially signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Maxine Mclean and China’s Ambassador, Wang Ke.Describing the signing as a ‘significant bilateral achievement’, McClean stated, “This visa waiver agreement signed today marks a milestone in the relationship between Barbados and the People’s Republic of China and it is fitting that it should take place as we are making preparations to celebrate 40 years of bilateral relations in May of this year.”She further said that the government anticipates the agreement to make Barbados a more attractive destination for the over 70 million Chinese tourists who travel to their country and the region each year. She surmised that the agreement would also assist in the government’s efforts to diversify the tourism market and contribute to strengthening the vital tourism sector and by extension the economy.Wang Ke, agreed that the signing of the agreement was another milestone in relations between the countries and said it would make a significant contribution to people-to-people exchanges and bilateral cooperation.Wang recommended that the country’s tourism authorities and travel agencies engage and explore opportunities for collaboration in order identify China as an emerging tourist market and plan strategies to attract Chinese tourists. She expressed the hope that the agreement would lead to an increased number of Chinese tourists to the island and also welcomed more Barbadian travellers to experience China and it’s the ancient oriental civilisation.last_img read more

Housing Looms Large As Ever For Bernanke Lawmakers

first_img A hearing held by House lawmakers Wednesday with “”Federal Reserve””: Chairman Ben Bernanke recast housing and the Dodd-Frank Act as issues critical to the economic recovery.[IMAGE]In his opening remarks, the central banker said that “”affordability has increased dramatically as a result of the decline in house prices and historically low interest rates on conventional mortgages”” but that “”many potential buyers lack the down payment and credit history required to qualify for loans.””Bernanke said that 30 percent of home sales recently consisted of foreclosures and properties in distress, reflecting ongoing trouble for a market underpinned by high home vacancy rates and downward pressure for home prices.The underwriting process, down payments, and pending regulations took center-stage during the discussion, with members of the “”House Financial Services Committee””: spotlighting [COLUMN_BREAK]servicer consent orders and the role of government in the secondary market.Rep. “”Judy Biggert””: (R-Illinois) fronted the issue of the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac by asking Bernanke whether taxpayer-funded guarantees for residential mortgages created a healthy economy.The Fed chairman replied by saying that an oversize role for government agencies in mortgage markets is “”obviously not healthy”” for the economy.He said that “”uninsured securities… put together by non-GSE securitizers are not yet as appealing as before”” the financial crisis.Biggert also went after Dodd-Frank ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô notably with Rep. “”Barney Frank””: (D-Massachusetts) seated at the same hearing ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô asking whether rules and regulations could “”hurt or help”” the return of private capital to mortgage markets.””It’s important to create more certainty and we’re not there yet”” with rule-writing, he said, suggesting that regulatory agencies need “”greater clarity”” to resolve questions over the risk-retention rule.Rep. “”Maxine Waters””: (D-California) raised the issue of the $25-billion servicer settlement and recent consent orders for the nation’s five largest banks, asking whether servicers will be able to write down loans to “”satisfy the penalties levied by the Fed in response to their unsafe and unsound practices.””Bernanke replied by saying that “”the banks will have to verify that they produce their own holdings and their own assets by the amount of credit they take out. If they don’t meet those full amounts [in the consent orders,] they will have to pay the rest.”” Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Ben S. Bernanke Dodd-Frank Fannie Mae Federal Reserve FHA FHFA Fixed-Rate Mortgage Freddie Mac GDP Home Prices Home Sales House Financial Services Committee Housing Affordability Inflation Investment Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Bonds Processing Service Providers Underwriting Standards 2012-02-29 Ryan Schuette Share February 29, 2012 406 Views center_img in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Housing Looms Large, As Ever, For Bernanke, Lawmakerslast_img read more

Economy Housing Continuing on Slow Track to Normal

first_imgEconomy, Housing Continuing on Slow Track to ‘Normal’ Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Fannie Mae Home Prices Home Sales Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Processing Purchase Loans Refinance Service Providers 2013-06-13 Tory Barringer June 13, 2013 485 Views Sharecenter_img While fiscal headwinds have held back economic growth for the first half of 2013, “”Fannie Mae’s””: Economic & Strategic Research Group maintains in its newest Economic and Housing Outlook that the recovery should pick up the pace as it heads into the year’s second half.[IMAGE]Based on data for Q1 and predicted numbers for Q2, Fannie Mae expects gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at an average 1.8 percent for the first half of the year (2.4 percent growth for the first quarter and 1.2 percent for the second). As fiscal drags wane, however, growth “”should [COLUMN_BREAK]continue to move in the positive direction amid an ongoing recovery in housing, rising household wealth, and expanded energy production.””””At the outset of the year, “”we forecasted””: that 2013 would witness sustainable but below-par growth as the economy begins its transition to more normal levels. Halfway through the year, our view is little changed,”” said Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae. “”We expect approximately 2.1 percent growth over the course of 2013, up from the anemic pace of 1.7 percent in 2012. This is consistent with the incremental improvement seen over the past few years but still below the economy’s potential.””GDP growth is expected to push past 2.5 percent in 2014, “”boosted largely by tailwinds from the strengthening housing market,”” Duncan added.As far as housing goes, recent indicators (such as home prices, home sales, and homebuilding activity) show signs of a long-term improvement toward normal levels, Fannie Mae said. In addition, while rising mortgage rates have impacted originations, “”affordability conditions remain high and [rates] should not present a significant obstacle to potential homebuyers.”” in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicinglast_img read more

Are Rising Student Loans Really Stifling Homeownership

first_img One of the pet reasons for explaining the lack of demand for houses among millennials is the presence of ever-escalating student loan debts. The thinking goes that college graduates are so mired in debt that they either cannot afford to buy or are too afraid to run up more debt, and so they stay living with their parents or find cheap places to rent.However, Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic, isn’t buying it.Citing a recent panel discussion at the Urban Institute on “Quantifying the Impact of Student Loan Debt on Homeownership,”  and recently published reports by the Brookings Institute and Jeffrey Thompson, economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Fleming draws the conclusion that  while student loan debt undoubtedly affects financial decisions for those post-college, there is zero empirical evidence to back up the claim that these debts are keeping young people from buying their first homes.For one thing, Fleming says, the monthly payback amount anyone has to spend on a student loan is based on a percentage of income. This percentage has remained virtually unchanged since the mid-1990s, but then, so have earnings—and members of Generation X didn’t shy away from buying houses just because of these obligations.Student loan debt is at the $1 trillion mark, and there are more outstanding loans than ever. But Fleming says these facts alone do not show that student loan debt is a bigger burden for millennials, much less one that will prevent homeownership.”Going to college still increases one’s earning potential,” Fleming said. “For those who had to finance college with loans, the burden of repayment relative to income remains the same today as in the 1990s.”This, he says, begs the question: If young people in the 1990s found a way to buy a home while coping with student loan debt, then “why wouldn’t young people today, with the same relative burden, be able to do the same?”One answer may be the increasing number of young people who do not finish college or take much longer than four years to get through it.In the past few years, reports by the National Bureau of Economic Research and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show that more students are taking six or more years to get through college these days, though the reasons why are not discussed. What’s important about this factor, Fleming says, is that the likelihood of homeownership drops among those who do not complete their education.”Accumulating the debt, but not earning the degree, results in the burden without any benefit,” he said. “Research still shows that, on average, getting a college degree results in higher earnings.”Beyond the basic message of “stay in school,” Fleming says it’s up to colleges to be more proactive in quelling a loan crisis that could lead to an entire section of Americans being unable to afford a home. “The post-secondary educational system and financing policies for a college education need to carefully consider, and potentially attempt to prevent, the burden of college debt without the benefit of a degree,” he said. in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News CoreLogic Debts First-Time Homebuyers Millennials 2014-07-22 Scott_Morgan July 22, 2014 488 Views center_img Share Are Rising Student Loans Really Stifling Homeownership?last_img read more

RIO Genesis Brings on VP for Business Development

first_img December 17, 2014 498 Views Share RIO Genesis Brings on VP for Business Development in Headlines, Newscenter_img Henderson, Nevada-based real estate technology company RIO Genesis Software Solutions, Inc., announced the hiring of industry veteran Jaysen Greenleaf as VP of business development.”I am excited to join the Rio Software Solutions team and also energized about the many new opportunities ahead of all of us on the RIO team,” Greenleaf said.Before joining the team at RIO Genesis, Greenleaf played a major role in helping mortgage default service leader Phoenix Asset Management grow and prosper. He joined Phoenix Asset Management seven years ago, where he held the position of director of client relations and business development for the last four years. In that position, Greenleaf managed new client development and maintained existing client partnerships while still managing a client team with Phoenix.”We are extremely pleased that Jaysen has joined our growing team,” said Michael Krein, CEO of RIO Genesis. “Not only are we gaining a talented, well-respected new member of our management team, through a strategic alliance with Phoenix, both organizations and our clients will benefit from Jaysen’s proven asset management experience, industry knowledge, and numerous contacts.”Krein said he believed the addition of Greenleaf to the team is a “win-win-win situation” for RIO Genesis, Phoenix Asset Management, and their existing and future clients, keeping in line with the “whole consulting” concept of RIO Genesis.”RIO Genesis isn’t simply a technology platform,” Krein said. “Our Affiliate Talent, which is directly tied to our consulting concept, is made up of some of the most well-known, respected, and experienced real estate-related professionals in the industry. Again, this is just one of the many value-added propositions we offer to our growing number of clients.” Movers & Shakers RIO Genesis 2014-12-17 Seth Welbornlast_img read more

Will Underwater Mortgage Borrowers Ever Come Up for Air

first_imgWill Underwater Mortgage Borrowers Ever Come Up for Air? March 10, 2016 652 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Sharecenter_img Negative equity is down to 13.1 percent nationwide, but is still a nagging problem choking real growth and limiting new inventory, according to a new report by Zillow.Wednesday’s report found that six million homeowners were underwater in the Q4 of 2015. And while that number is still a problem, it is significantly lower than the peak 16 million underwater homeowners that existed in Q1 of 2012, and the 8 million underwater homeowners of a year ago.According to Zillow, the millions of underwater homeowners who have resurfaced over the past year have led to a $75 billion decline in negative equity, which has helped keep the U.S. housing market jogging along steadily. But while the overall picture is vastly improved from even just a year or two ago, there are still 820,000 homeowners who owe more than twice as much on their mortgages as their homes are worth.“Some owners are so far underwater that positive equity may be several years away, leaving them stuck in their homes unable to sell,” the report stated.Las Vegas and Chicago have remained especially hard it. According to Zillow, a fifth of all homeowners in these cities remain underwater. Atlanta, Baltimore, and Cleveland still have 17 percent of buyers upside down on their mortgages.In contrast, San Jose has the lowest number of underwater homeowners, with 2.8 percent. Its closest competitor is across the Bay in San Francisco, where 4.4 percent of homeowners are upside down. Denver and Portland, Ore., each have about 5.5 percent underwater homeowners.Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist, said that the effects of this nagging negative equity on the overall housing market could be subtle but serious.“Over time, negative equity can act as an anchor on a housing market, preventing underwater homeowners from listing their homes and reentering the market,” Gudell said. “It is more prevalent in less expensive areas that are affordable to first-time buyers. Without these homes available, many potential buyers are sidelined and unable to take advantage of mortgage rates that remain near historic lows.” Negative Equity Zillow 2016-03-10 Scott_Morganlast_img read more

Home Affordability Continues to Decline

first_img First American Financial Corporation released its July report for the Real House Price Index (RHPI), which measures the change in single-family home prices while taking into account income and interest rates to determine home affordability and home-buying power.According to the report, affordability is down from June to July, 0.4 percent month-over-month and 4.2 percent year-over-year. Real home prices increased 0.6 percent month-over-month, and 10.4 percent year-over-year. Although, according to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, this effect doesn’t translate to all homeowners.“Rising rates and rapid price appreciation driven by the lack of supply caused affordability to decline in July … But, the loss in affordability is only significant to potential first-time buyers,” said Fleming. “Existing homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages benefited from the rising prices with increased equity.”Still, real home prices are still 38.4 percent lower than they were during the housing peak in July 2006, according to the report, and 17.2 percent below the levels experienced at the beginning of 2000.On an unadjusted scale, home prices increased year-over-year 5.8 percent, and stand at 3.4 percent higher than the peak experienced in 2007. Looking forward, Fleming doesn’t see a change in the shallowing affordability trend.“As mortgage rates rise and supply remains constrained, affordability will continue to decline for those seeking to achieve the goal of homeownership,” said Fleming. “Yet, while affordability is lower than a year ago, it remains high by historic standards.”The report accounts for a few reasons why affordability continues to drop, one of which being that inventory continues to be restricted on account because homeowners are afraid to sell their home in the event they cannot find a replacement.For the full report, click here. Share September 27, 2017 703 Views Home Affordability Continues to Declinecenter_img Home Affordability 2017-09-27 Joey Pizzolato in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News, Originationlast_img read more