Travel is back, and it's big... bringing news of direct flights, hotel openings, farm experiences and musical interludes, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield delves into another week in Travel
OUR PRINTS COMETH
Usually at this time of year, things for us are quiet. Traditionally we’ll publish very small Travel supplements — just a handful of pages — and things “kick in” early in February, after schools have gone back. But on Saturday we had 36 pages of Travel and Sunday Travel had 20 pages — 56 pages of Travel last weekend. It is unprecedented, and made the Big Travel Trends 2024 Guide in Saturday's edition feel even more relevant. Big indeed. (Trust me, our little publications are punching well above their weight.) You can read our Big Travel Trends 2024 Guide (and many more of our Travel stories) here.
RIGHT ROYAL SONG
In 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland, a singer called Lys Assia rattled out the refrain of a song called, appropriately enough, Refrain, and won the first Eurovision Song Contest. There was no “deux points” . . . the scores of the voting have never been made public. But, yes, the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, in May 2024 will be the 68th — and the team at Royal Caribbean is clearly excited about it. Royal Caribbean International has become an official partner for 2024 and 2025.
Details about how fans can get tickets to the Eurovision Song Contest with Royal Caribbean will be revealed in the coming months. It is the world’s biggest live music event, being broadcast in the 37 participating countries.
Royal Caribbean is no stranger to live entertainment — and its 2024 summer season will continue the tradition, with full-scale shows, live music and comedy.
TIME TO CELEBRATE
Cruise company Silversea is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and has done so by officially naming a new ship. Silver Nova has just been named at a ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, in the US, and blessed by Rev. Sanford Sears (who served in both the US Army and US Coast Guard) and Rabbi Adam Watstein. The ceremony included an emotional performance of the US national anthem by Broadway and TV actor, singer and performer Rachel York.
Just out of interest, the 30th wedding anniversary gift is traditionally a pearl, representing purity, honesty and wisdom.
CHICAGO IN BRISBANE
Chicago The Musical is on in Brisbane, and The Rydges South Bank hotel has not only come up with a jazzy package, but two tribute cocktails, The Velma and The Roxie (named for characters in the show, just in case you didn’t know). The hotel is within walking distance of the show’s venue at Lyric Theatre, QPAC, and stars Anthony Warlow, Zoe Ventoura and Lucy Maunder. The hotel’s Chicago The Musical: Jazz, Style, and Stay package includes accommodation, two “A Reserve” tickets to Chicago The Musical on the evening of arrival, overnight parking for one car, daily buffet breakfast per person and a 1pm checkout. It is from $429. Call 07 3364 0800 or visit rydges.com
When in doubt, I book a Best Western Hotel (and I’ve done that, for example, in both New York and Avignon in France). It’s a go-to for good locations, prices and cleanliness. And Best Western has recently opened six new hotels in Asia — in Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand; West Java in Indonesia; Angeles City and Cebu City in the Philippines; and the 335-room Best Western Premier Marvella Nha Trang in Vietnam.
LEARNING TO FARM
The Anam Cam Ranh resort in Vietnam (and pictured at the top of the page) has started a program to teach children about sustainable farming. With 8500sqm of its 12ha dedicated to cultivating vegetables, fruits, herbs, and eggs for meals for guests and staff, Anam Group general manager Laurent Myter says: “Our team is genuinely keen to do its bit to educate youngsters about the need to tread lightly on the Earth, albeit in a fun and engaging way. Kids get a taste of life on a sustainable farm, rummaging around our greenery and patting the animals such as the baby goats.” Organic ingredients from the farm, including morning glory, Malabar spinach, mustard green, wild betel leaves, and chicken and duck eggs, are used by the Anam Cam Ranh’s chefs. The budding farm’s produce also includes cassava root, custard apple, imperata cylindrica, and plantago asiatica. The resort recycles laundry water for its gardens and uses solar power. The resort’s filtration plant supplies water for 240 recycled glass bottles per day, eliminating the use of an estimated 87,600 single-use plastic water bottles annually. Rice flour straws, bamboo bags and bamboo bathroom amenities are used. Room key cards are made from wood sourced from sustainably managed forests. theanam.com
TASTING THE WORLD 1
Despite being from northern Italy, and being a specialist Lonely Planet guide book writer for Chile and now Peru, our regular contributor, Marco Ferrarese, lives in Penang with wife and photographer Kit Cheng. Marco is a great writer (and great part of our little team) and we’ve published a lot of his South-East Asia food stories . . .
. . . and my eye has fallen on the chance to cook it at home, with a new book by award-winning chef Junda Khoo. His book is called Ho Jiak and has 100 staple Malaysian dishes, from street food to homestyle cooking. Khoo, who owns Ho Jiak Town Hall, in York Street, Sydney, has recipes passed down to him from his grandmother, as well as street vendors in Malaysia. Ho Jiak translates to “good eats” and there are some budget-friendly meals to cook in 15 minutes. Bring on the hawker-style nasi lemak. Published by Hardie Grant Books, Ho Jiak is a 240-page hardback book and $55 from bookshops. It is published on January 31.
TASTING THE WORLD 2
As I’m writing this, I see that almost two thirds of the tickets for our Round the World Dinner on March 16, 2024, have been sold. The details are here.
MORE DIRECT LINKS
+ South African Airways will fly direct between Perth and Johannesburg from April.
+ Thai Airways will restart daily direct flights to Bangkok from March 27.
+ Jetstar joins it on the route between Perth and the Thai capital late in 2024.
In my A to Z of WA’s summer last week, I mentioned that our State has about 100 species of mosquitoes, and we’re always on the lookout for natural repellents. (Yes, I know DEET works, but …) Lemon Myrtle Fragrances’ natural insect repellent is free from DEET, mineral oils and animal fats. And the producers are confident that it will give four hours protection from mosquitoes, and three hours protection from sandflies and midges. And, with Australian native oils, it smells nice. Lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) is an Australian native rainforest tree. The natural insect repellent is $19.95 for 125ml and $29.95 for 250ml. lemonmyrtlefragrances.com.au
Lemon Myrtle Fragrances is an Australian family owned business established by the Bird family in the 1990s. In northern NSW, Roger and Eileen Bird and family planted one of the first lemon myrtle plantations and started selling soap at markets. The company buys oil and leaf directly from some of the original lemon myrtle plantations established in the early days of the industry. The products are made by Australian manufacturers, which are all family run businesses.
CAR HOLDER EXPANDER
One-litre water bottles don’t fit in cup holders in cars. They’re too big. But Willy and Bear has a solution, with a car cup holder expander which holds a big bottle, but has a narrow bottom piece that fits securely into the car’s cup holder. It’s a sort of “cup holder adaptor”. The Willy and Bear cup holders come in a range of colours, from black to candy, latte and lime and are $24.99 each. They also have a one-litre water bottle with a lid, which fits them perfectly, for $40. Best of all, there is a “one-litre Barbie bottle and cup holder bundle” for $50. willyandbear.com
Willy and Bear started in 2022 in Queensland. It is 100 per cent Australian owned and its products are made from recyclable materials.