August 24, 2015

ABSINTHE_Banquine (hero) ©Spiegelworld

Inspired by the absinthe-drenched cabarets of late 19th century Europe, “Absinthe” is an adult themed cocktail of circus, comedy, burlesque and vaudeville for a 21st century audience.

At the core of this seductive carnival world is a unique venue, a century-old Belgian spiegeltent beautifully crafted from teak, stained glass, mirrors and luxurious velvet, with a tiny circular stage at the centre of this intimate spiegeltent.

The smash hit Las Vegas show has been playing to sold-out audiences since 2011 at the world’s most famous casino, Caesars Palace, and in April celebrated its fourth anniversary. Celebrities regularly flock to join the audience. Recently during a performance at the Las Vegas production, Channing Tatum was inspired to jump up on stage to perform an impromptu lap dance.

Now it’s Sydney’s turn to experience this exciting show. From 15 September 2015, “Absinthe” will be performed under a beautiful spiegeltent on St Mary’s Cathedral Square, opposite Hyde Park, in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. It will be the first time a spiegeltent is pitched on this iconic site.

Sydney audiences at “Absinthe” will be treated to two new international acts, specially hand-picked for the Australian tour, which join the show’s line-up of jaw-dropping acts that have been amazing Las Vegas crowds.

Spiegelworld previously presented the record breaking spiegeltent show, “Empire” which was seen by an incredible 200,000 Australians last year.

Sandra Tiltman


August 24, 2015


If you have ever dreamed of sailing around the South Pacific and experiencing the lifestyles of the rich and famous, now is the perfect time to act upon that dream and life like royalty on a Sunsail yacht charter in the kingdom of Tonga.

Sunsail is offering a seven day sailing holiday in Vava’u, the “Friendly Islands” of Tonga, where you can expect not only warm tropical waters that are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving plus close encounters with humpback whales but village feasts as well.

One of the main drawcards to sail around this unspoilt region is the abundance of nature.

Vava’u is home to the largest population of humpback whales. A good time to visit is between July and October, when the adult females arrive in tropical waters from the icy Antarctic to give birth to their young.

b0c2f80f-aa80-4aa9-9f6b-2dbf1694162fManinita is a haven for seabirds, whilst small white terns perform courtship rituals above your boat, there’s just as much action below the water. Venture into the cathedral-like Swallows Cave in the afternoon when the sunlight streams in, illuminating marine life, multi-coloured stalactites and 200 year old Tongan engravings on the walls.

Tonga has been known as “The Friendly Islands” for hundreds of years and today it’s no different. Local villagers welcome sailors to Taunga with a feast of tropical fruit, fresh seafood and Tongan delights cooked underground in an umu pit and wrapped in banana leaves. After dinner, you can join in a live traditional song and dance or take a stroll among the coconut groves. Always keep an eye out for indigenous Flying Foxes hanging from the fruit trees.

To the Southwest lies Hunga Island, home to a huge lagoon formed by the crater of an extinct volcano. The 525 acre island is a dense jungle of coconut trees, with plenty of hiking paths to cliffs and lookouts. The lagoon is a completely protected coral reef haven for whales and visitors. Take a 25 minute walk to Hunga Village to visit the friendly locals and try your hand at fishing, before retiring to your yacht to feast on the catch of the day.

A short hop from Hunga Island is Vaka’eitu, where you can visit the Blue Lagoon Resort, an eco-sanctuary with eight large fales, each constructed from local materials. After a day spent snorkeling with whales, sea stars, and tropical fish, why not dine ashore in the restaurant where you can enjoy the specialty lobster, while watching the view of the lagoon and surrounding reef.

Sunsail’s four cabin luxury catamaran yacht sleeps up to ten people. If you have never sailed before, that’s not a problem, you can hire a skipper for just $231 per day on top of boat hire fee. Make your dreams a reality.

Sandra Tiltman


August 16, 2015
Pop Up Hotel Room to Launch HotelTonight App

Pop Up Hotel Room to Launch HotelTonight App

Travellers who enjoy the freedom of not being tied down to an inflexible itinerary will love the new HotelTonight service, recently launched in Australia. The event launch featured a pop up hotel room, complete with two occupants, adjacent to Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal. With the Opera House on the opposite side of Sydney Cove, this pop up hotel room certainly deserved the title of “room with a view”.

screenshot_925The HotelTonight service can only be accessed via the free app, available for download on mobile phones from the App Store and suitable for iOS and Android devices. The HotelTonight service cannot be accessed by using a website. This is part of the appeal for hotels as it means any special offers can’t be searched on the web, giving it somewhat of a ‘closed’ medium, meaning hotels are more comfortable offering larger discounts.

The app offers savings of up to 50 per cent on an impressive collection of hotels that are all handpicked to ensure maximum quality and value.

HotelTonight is currently available in the United States and Europe and following their Australian launch in Sydney and Melbourne, they will soon be expanding into Brisbane and Adelaide.

HotelTonight was founded in 2010, as a mobile app for booking hand selected hotels at exclusively low prices, up to seven days in advance. HotelTonight helps consumers plan less and live more, by offering incredible convenience and amazing value at hotels vetted by the HT team.

The app works with a variety of hotel chains, as well as boutique gems, in each of their locations.

Currently available in more than 500 destinations across the globe, HotelTonight is a strategic partner for hotels, filling rooms that would otherwise remain empty. HotelTonight is based in San Francisco, California, and is backed by top venture firms and leading travel industry pioneers.

screenshot_924The HotelTonight pop-up suite on display at the launch, is not currently available for bookings but it will move on to a new Australian location and will be made available to private bookers on the HotelTonight app. Consumers will be able to book a stay at the glass-fronted luxury suite via the app later in the year. Decked out by luxury interior designers Coco Republic, the roaming, boutique style suite was built from two converted shipping containers and offers bookers unique and rare views.

HotelTonight Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Stefan Cordiner, said the brand came up with the idea of creating a roaming boutique style gem, that is out of the ordinary, to inspire Australians to live life more spontaneously. “Our mantra is to live a life less planned. We’re on a quest to make travelling more fun so thought it was fitting to deliver luxuriously unique accommodation in some of Australia’s most inspiring and extraordinary locations, worthy of a trip before the suite disappears and moves on to a new home,” he said. Download the app for updates on the suite’s location.

Visit http://www.hoteltonight.com to download the free app.

Sandra Tiltman


August 10, 2015


Sydney theatre lovers are in for a treat when the brand new Australian production of the smash hit musical comedy, “Anything Goes”, presented by leading Australian theatre producer John Frost and Opera Australia Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini, plays at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House from 5 September 2015.

Cole Porter’s much loved musical features a hilarious tale of topsy-turvy relationships, mistaken identities and foiled plots, peppered with some of musical theatre’s most memorable standards including You’re The Top, De-Lovely, I Get A Kick Out Of You and of course the title song, Anything Goes.

Winner of three Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival and Choreography during its most recent Broadway revival, “Anything Goes” is a stunning nautical favourite, hailed by The New York Times as “musical comedy joy” and called “glorious and exuberant” by USA Today,

AGJeff-Busby_2189_RDirected by Dean Bryant and choreographed by Andrew Hallsworth, it has just been announced that Gerry Connolly will play the Captain of the S.S. American in the Sydney Opera House season, following his success during the Melbourne and Brisbane seasons. Alan Jones has had to withdraw from the role, due to his increased radio and television commitments.

Connolly plays opposite Caroline O’Connor as evangelist turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney; Todd McKenney as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh; Alex Rathgeber as young Wall Street broker Billy Crocker; Claire Lyon will be American debutante Hope Harcourt; Carmen Duncan in her musical theatre debut as Evangeline Harcourt; Wayne Scott Kermond as second-rate gangster Moonface Martin; Debora Krizak as Moonface’s girlfriend Erma and Bartholomew John as Wall Street banker Elisha J. Whitney.

For decades, “Anything Goes” has captivated millions with its story of madcap antics aboard the SS American. When the ocean liner embarks from New York to London, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off on the course to find true love, proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise and some good old fashioned blackmail.

“Anything Goes” is a shining example of classic musical theatre, complete with amazing tap dancing, hilarious jokes, unlikely happy endings and of course, wonderful songs,” said Lyndon Terracini and John Frost. “After the overwhelming success of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” and “The King and I”, a revival of “Anything Goes” featuring the dazzling music of Cole Porter seemed the obvious choice. Since its Broadway premiere, it has become one of the best loved and most revived musicals of all time.

Sandra Tiltman


August 10, 2015


The Sydney Dog Lovers Show returns to the Royal Hall of Industries & Hordern Pavilion at Moore Park on Saturday 15 August and Sunday 16 August, with more canines under one roof than ever before. Dog lovers of all ages can celebrate the companionship, unconditional affection and joy that our furry friends bring to our daily lives.

Highlights include an Explosive Detective Dog demonstration, simulating a mock checkpoint in a war scenario by the Australian Defence Force plus The Rose-Hip Vital Arena’s high energy and endless action as some of Australia’s most talented canines, including Dr Katrina Warren’s Wonderdogs, present live doggy demonstrations including Agility, Flygility, Flyball, and Frisbee shows.

IMG_8995The Perfect Match has been designed to help visitors find the most suitable dog breeds for their lifestyle and home. Whether you’re looking for a running buddy or a pooch pal who will cosy up on the couch with you, the Perfect Match will help you find your ‘best-fit’ breeds with a detailed, quick-to-complete online survey and experts on hand to provide recommendations.

The KONG Celebrity Vet Stage will provide expert seminars from some of Australia’s most popular vets on training, behaviour tips, first-aid and nutrition advice for healthier, happier dogs, plus everything you need to know about living with a new puppy! Speakers include James and Anthony from Village Vets Australia, Bondi Vet Dr Lisa Chimes, Laura Vissaritis and Dr Katrina Warren.

To acknowledge the 100th anniversary of WW1 and the ANZAC Centenary, a special tribute to Australian Military Working Dogs will be presented, showcasing the contribution Australian dogs have made in wars, including profiles on some of Australia’s most decorated and famous military dogs.

From canines that have gone above and beyond to keep our country safe, to dozens of dogs available for adoption from rescue groups across NSW, dog loving visitors won’t want to miss the CANIDAE Rescue Dog Zone, which provides a chance to meet dogs from a wide array of shelters and rescue groups from around NSW who are desperate to find safe, loving homes. Visitors will also have access to experts who can discuss rescue and what’s involved, whether it suits your lifestyle and how you can actually start the process of adoption if you fall in love with the perfect pooch.

Sandra Tiltman


August 10, 2015


Screening in Sydney from 17-30 August at Paddington’s Palace Verona Cinema, the 2015 AICE Israeli Film Festival will feature a varied programme of Australian and world premieres of documentaries, feature films, shorts and even a television show, as well as Q&As with VIP guests and live music performances. The Festival will showcase all aspects of Israeli culture.

The programme offers a selection of contemporary and historic Israeli cinema, featuring thirty-five titles across six categories. “Blast From The Past” shows a selection of titles from Israel’s cinematic history, “Queer Spot” reflects on the vibrant queer culture in Israel and “Questions of Faith” probes contemporary issues of faith and interfaith. “Culture Corner” covers all things culture, from theatre to music to poetry and everything in between, while “First Course” presents the finest Israeli short films in a wide range of styles from fiction to animation and “On The Edge” returns to confront audiences with real life stories, revealing the dark side of life.

The Festival, now in its 12th year, is curated by incoming Artistic Director, Richard Moore, a film industry stalwart whose career has been intimately linked with the Australian arts scene. Moore presents some colourful points of view, giving voice to the subversive, the political, the cultured and the deeply religious.

Opening the Festival on 17 August with canapés, wine and entertainment prior to the screening, is the Australian premiere of “Matt Caspi – Confession”, direct from Israel’s documentary festival Doc Aviv, where Moore found a number of titles for this year’s programme. Moore said “I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the Festival, it’s full of songs, intimate moments and Caspi’s deadpan humour. It’s as much a film about an Israel of the past as it is a searing personal biography of a living legend.”

On 18 August, a special Q&A, following each screening of “Almost Friends” and “Aliza”, will be held with Director Barak Heymann.

Professor Konrad Kwiet, resident historian at the Sydney Jewish Museum will introduce historical documentary “81st BLOW” on 20 August.

Other highlights include “Princess”, directed by Tali Shalom Ezer, a multi-award winner at the Jerusalem International Film Festival 2014, including Best Feature Film and Best Actor, plus the no holds barred depiction of the turbulent life of one of Israel’s greatest poets, “Yona”, based on the novel “Yona Wallach”.

The Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) provides a cultural link between Australia and Israel, fostering greater knowledge and understanding between the two countries.

Sandra Tiltman


August 3, 2015

Silver Explorer, Antarctica Exploration

To mark the centenary of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, one of the most remarkable stories of leadership, determination and survival, luxury expedition cruise line Silversea Expeditions, will be operating a series of unique Shackleton Centenary Voyages to Antarctica in 2015 and 2016.

Shackleton sailed from Plymouth, U.K. towards Antarctica in 1915 on board the Endurance, but just 200 miles from the Antarctic mainland, she was trapped between two ice floes in the Weddell Sea. The crew initially stayed put, hoping that the winds would change and free the ship, however, after ten months they were forced to abandon the Endurance and strike out across the ice in search of help.

The story of how Shackleton led his men in the Weddell Sea party, over ice and ocean to safety, is one of the greatest survival tales in history.

Departing Ushuaia, Silver Explorer’s Shackleton Centenary Voyages visit the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Elephant Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Discover how six men travelled in a tiny lifeboat across the Southern Ocean in search of aid for their stricken crewmates, plus hear how the rest of the party managed to endure 138 days in one of the most inhospitable places on earth.

Silversea Shackleton imageAs well as following in the footsteps of the great explorer Shackleton, passengers will also encounter wildlife seen nowhere else in the world, including rockhopper, king, emperor and chinstrap penguins, watch for seals, dolphins, whales, albatross, shearwaters and petrels plus visit historic sites of the early explorers and remains of whaling operations, accompanied by a team of experts, which includes eminent naturalists, geologists, biologists, historians, and ornithologists.

An exclusive onboard exhibition showing a specially curated gallery of artefacts and images by the Endurance’s official photographer, Australian, Frank Hurley, who documented the expedition on film and through iconic still photography, is just one of the benefits for those travelling aboard Silver Explorer, due to Silversea’s partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).

A major exhibition, “The Enduring Eye: the Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley” will be held at the headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society in London from the end of November 2015 to the end of February 2016, before a U.K. and international tour commences in 2017. Silversea passengers sailing on Antarctica voyages will receive VIP access to the exhibition, with special tours arranged pre or post departure for the White Continent. The Society’s historical collection relating to Antarctica provides a wealth of artefacts, photographs, archives, maps, charts and books which tell the story of the Endurance and Antarctica from its beginnings to the present day with a focus on the early explorers who gave us a greater understanding of the Great White Desert.

Silversea Cruises, with eight ships across their award winning fleet, is an innovator in the luxury cruise line industry and their intimate, all suite vessels are designed to offer an atmosphere of casual elegance. The Shackleton Centenary Voyages aboard the all suite Silver Explorer include gourmet food, wine and spirits, the personalised service of a butler and all excursions including Zodiac tours, plus a special Shackleton centenary commemorative dinner.   Sandra Tiltman