August 14, 2016


Sydney seems to have a huge selection of bars, but hey, there’s always room for one more, especially at Circular Quay.

Inspired by the grand plantation architecture of Cuba and mixed with the luxury modern vintage hotels of 1950’s Miami, “Hacienda” is located in the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour. With fabulous views of the Harbour Bridge and cruise ships docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, plus the many ferries darting around the harbour, Hacienda is a great place to relax with a cocktail, day or evening.


Sandra Tiltman enjoying a cocktail

I tried two of Hacienda’s signature cocktails during my recent visit, but I still can’t make up my mind as to which was my favourite. The “Bottled Mojito” of Blanco rum, crème de menthe, lime, mint, falernum, orange bitters and “Old Presidente” made from aged rum, orange curacao, house spiced raspberry syrup & Angostura bitters served in a smoked rocks glass had me wanting more. Both had my vote as being up there with some of the best cocktails I have tasted. Glad I had my designated driver by my side.

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Great drinks are not all that’s on offer at Hacienda. Award winning Executive Chef Stefan Brademann is at the helm of the kitchen, with a menu inspired by Cuba’s traditional trading partners and their local, abundant ingredients, to create dishes unique to Hacienda. With Latin and American delights such as blackened rice crisps topped with crab & finger lime, scallop ceviche, Yucca fries with red pepper sauce, Cajun spiced grilled prawns and Hacienda’s signature Cuban Reuben of Cuban spiced homemade pastrami, smokey cheese & Marrickville pickles, Hacienada is a foodie venue as well as a bar.

Hacienda prides itself on sharp service, a stylish drinks selection and delicious food in a truly unique Sydney setting.

Sandra Tiltman      Photos: John Pond


November 18, 2015

Primus Hotel Sydney - Lobby.jpg

New hotel openings are always cause for celebration and much excitement. As 2015 draws to a close, Sydney will be feeling the glamour, when one of the finest examples of art deco chic will be returned to the city, with the opening of the 5 star Primus Hotel Sydney.

Breathtaking in its scope and scale, the extraordinary interior of this 1930’s heritage listed building, which once housed The Sydney Water Board head office, is unique to the city. Having laid concealed for over 60 years, the building has been faithfully and intricately restored to its former glory and now presents an unparalleled sense of grandeur and elegance. After two years of construction, the Primus Hotel Sydney features a striking staircase, eight metre high rare scagliola columns and deco era timber panelling.

Australia’s leading global architecture and design practice, Woods Bagot, were appointed to lead the refit, protecting and showcasing the building’s landmark heritage values. The intimate atmosphere developed through the use of green terracing and indoor/outdoor spaces will be ideal for relaxing and escaping the lively street level environment and guests will be treated to the city’s most impressive urban resort at the rooftop pool and bar.

Located near the Sydney Town Hall, close to Hyde Park, theatres and the city’s shopping heart, the 172 room Primus Hotel Sydney will offer guests international five star standards and personal service, plus a blend of traditional and contemporary touches that define the modern hotel.

The hotel will offer a collection of high-end dining and experience offerings, including a restaurant helmed by emerging and recently awarded Head Chef, Ryan Hong, whose menu reflects produce driven contemporary cuisine, with an Asian twist. The lobby bar will form part of the hotel’s central sanctum and like the grand European hotels, will be the perfect place to sit and people watch while relaxing with a cocktail or glass of wine.

The remarkable public lobby with its towering ceilings, Presidential Suite and a ballroom fit for the highest of occasions, will see the hotel placed amongst the city’s most prestigious accommodation offerings.

The hotel marks the grand entrance of Greenland International Hotels Group into Australia. The creation of a new laneway will connect Primus Hotel Sydney with its neighboring Greenland Centre, which once completed, will stand as the tallest residential building ever to grace the Sydney skyline.

Sandra Tiltman


November 18, 2015


Photographer Lisa Tomasetti’s latest exhibition titled “The Australian Ballet on the International Stage” is running from 18-25 November at M Contemporary, 37 Ocean St Woollahra. Lisa is an award winning stills photographer and visual artist since 1990.

The exhibit features stunning photos of the Australian Ballet on their international tours in Paris, Tokyo and New York. In this series, the dancers are removed from the highly controlled interior environment of the stage and taken outside to the streets of multiple city locations. The images capture the energy, grace and passion for movement, embodied by the dancers and juxtapose the classical form with the gritty urban landscape of these iconic cities.


As well as an opening reception there will be a special celebration with champagne and cupcakes on Sunday 22 November, with dancers from the Australian Ballet and David Graeme McAllister AM, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet in attendance.

Sandra Tiltman


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


December 6, 2014
Where MSC Orchestra’s Grand Voyage Begins

Where MSC Orchestra’s Grand Voyage Begins

While cruising the Mediterranean, from Athens to Venice, at the height of this year’s European Summer, it seemed like every port we visited there was always one of MSC’s large white elegant ships already docked. Not surprising really, as MSC is synonymous with the Mediterranean.

Their modern luxury cruise ship fleet exudes Italian style and comfort, so no matter which one of their twelve ships you choose to sail on, the experience will be one to remember.

From Italy, Spain, the Greek Islands, Turkey, Croatia, France, Greece and Northern Africa they have the Mediterranean covered and with their flexible embarkation ports, joining a cruise could not be easier.

MSC funnelMSC also sail further afield with their programme of Grand Voyages, allowing passengers to enjoy such regions as the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Now it’s Australia’s turn to welcome MSC to our shores.

MSC Orchestra will embark on her maiden voyage to Australia when she sets sail from Dubai on 21 February 2015. The 33 night Grand Voyage will visit many exciting ports such as Mumbai and Cochin in India, followed by Colombo, Phuket and Langkawi before arriving in Singapore, where there will be an overnight stay, giving passengers plenty of time to explore this ever changing city. Benoa, on the Indonesian island of Bali, will be the final Asian port before cruising on to Australia.

Cairns is the first Australian port of the Grand Voyage, with MSC Orchestra due to arrive on 13 March 2015. From Cairns she will begin a partial circumnavigation of the Australian Coast. After visiting Brisbane, it’s Sydney’s turn to greet her and where she will make another overnight stay prior to visiting Melbourne, Adelaide and finally Fremantle on 26 March 2015.

Sophia Loren, MSC Orchestra's Godmother

Sophia Loren, MSC Orchestra’s Godmother

Lynne Clarke, Managing Director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand said “We are thrilled to be bringing MSC Orchestra to Australian waters. We will be equally excited for our loyal passengers to have the chance to see the cruise ship in their home waters.”

MSC Orchestra was launched on 14 May 2007, the second of the ‘Musica-class’ line of cruise ships that offer a blend of design, comfort and safety, along with MSC Cruises’ signature Italian style. In tune with the musical theme, her decks are named after the instruments in an orchestra such as Mandolino, Clarinetto, Saxofono and Violino.

Passengers will be spoilt for choice with so many dining options. The two main restaurants, L’Ibiscus and Villa Borghese, serve a selection of fresh produce, ranging from traditional and tasty Mediterranean fare to the most refined international dishes. La Piazzetta buffet restaurant also offers a large variety of Italian and international cuisine. The speciality Shanghai Chinese Restaurant serves Szechuan style food from the spicy northern region as well as Cantonese, the sweeter fare of the south. Mid-morning Dim Sum specialties from every region of China are also available.

Kids are not forgotten with their very own Jungle Adventure playroom and teens can meet in the Teen’s Club.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond


May 14, 2014


Café del Mar is a welcome addition to Sydney’s diverse dining scene. Staying true to a heritage that began in 1980 on the Isle of Ibiza, this Spanish inspired restaurant is the perfect place for a relaxed lunch or an elegant dinner. Brand Ambassador and Celebrity Chef, Miguel Maestre, brings the Spanish flavour to life.

Suckling Pig

Suckling Pig

Located on the Rooftop Terrace at Cockle Bay Wharf, Café del Mar’s idyllic position provides diners with sweeping views over Darling Harbour.

The large outdoor deck running along the length of the building is perfect for drinks and snacks any time of the day, but sitting there on the comfy banquettes watching the sunset is pretty hard to beat. Why not try one of the six different Sangria Pitchers on offer.

The spacious interior allows for tables to be placed with room to spare, so conversations are not overheard. There is also a lounge bar area and a private dining room for groups. The open kitchen down one side gives diners the opportunity to watch the chefs in action, pure theatre.

The day we visited for lunch, I was impressed with the large list of cocktails and the extensive wine list, but I was happy to find a good selection of wines available by the glass.

For entrée we shared the chilli salt & pepper squid, black ink and finger lime aioli plus the flash fried dusted baby prawns with jalapeno mayonnaise. Both were delicious, but my favourite was the squid.

Angus Rib Eye

Angus Rib Eye

My main course of suckling pig, cavolo nero and Pedro Ximenez jus did not disappoint and the portion size was very generous. My companion chose the dry aged pasture fed Angus rib eye with caramelised eschallots and Béarnaise sauce. Sides of steamed broccolini and roast garlic mash were ordered as extras.

We found the food, service and the ambience made for an excellent combination and we both said we would definitely be back.

A special Corporate Lunch Menu offering a choice of three entrees and mains was also available.

Café del Mar is also a great place for functions. OpenMonday to Saturday noon to midnight and on Sunday noon until 10 pm.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond


March 1, 2014

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth Salutes Sydney Mardi Gras Mandatory Credit James Morgan (3)

Rain could not dampen the spectacular arrival in Sydney this morning of Cunard’s luxury liner Queen Elizabeth.  Sailing up the harbour with a massive ‘Happy Mardi Gras’ cape billowing from her top decks, she certainly was a sight to behold.

Performer Vanity Faire on a Giant Stiletto as Cunard's Queen Elizabeth Salutes Sydney Mardi Gras Mandatory Credit James MorganA salute to one of Sydney’s biggest international festivals, the 126 metres long cape formed part of a head-turning outfit for performer Vanity Faire, who was positioned on a giant glittering 2.2 metre high stiletto atop Queen Elizabeth.

The cape and stiletto will be illuminated on Queen Elizabeth’s top decks from dusk tonight for her overnight stay at Circular Quay.

This morning’s dazzling display paid tribute to the 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and got everyone into party mode for tonight’s Mardi Gras parade.

Sandra Tiltman        

PHOTO:  James Morgan