What’s new in travel – get the low down here

There is lots happening on the travel front from glam new hotels to glamping spots and do it at home High Country experiences to new cruise ships, new aircraft and more.

Here’s a roundup of some of the news The Finer Things in Travel found interesting.

London has a new glam hotel

Edwardian Hotels London, one of the UK’s largest family-owned hotel groups, has celebrated the opening of its latest property – The Londoner. Set to impress Londoners and International guests, the property is a luxury urban resort with 350 guest rooms spread across 16 storeys. It also features a subterranean series of spaces, creating one of the deepest habitable basements in the world. Designed in collaboration with world-renowned architectural designers Yabu Pushelberg, the opening marks a pivotal moment in the return and scale of global hospitality, and an exciting re-birth for Leicester Square.

The Londoner offers an array of rooms, suites and penthouses, along with two private screening rooms, an exclusive 24-hour residents’ space, an entire floor dedicated to wellness, a ballroom, private art gallery, meeting places and a mix of several concept eateries. This includes their signature Mediterranean restaurant, Whitcomb’s, plus a contemporary Japanese lounge bar with a rooftop terrace and fire pit named 8, and their neighbourhood bar, Joshua’s Tavern.

The group’s boutique approach and commitment to hospitality offers the highest levels of luxury and is designed to make every guest feel at home.

The Londoner, new hotel in London

The Londoner Penthouse-Suite – Credit Andrew Beasle

Hurtigruten’s new ship

With expedition cruising restarting, Hurtigruten, the world leader in exploration travel, has introduced their third battery-hybrid powered ship – MS Otto Sverdrup. After being fitted with the hybrid battery technology the vessel departed Hamburg, Germany on her maiden voyage on 24 August, 2021, and is offering year-round departures from Hamburg to the Norwegian coast.

“We are thrilled to finally be back exploring with our guests. This is a day we have all been really looking forward to after a very challenging year for the entire travel industry,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen.

Since the very first expedition cruise in 1896, Hurtigruten Expeditions has grown into the world’s largest expedition cruise line. The growing fleet of smaller, more sustainable expedition cruise ships takes guests exploring to more than 250 destinations across some of the most spectacular waters of the planet – including Antarctica, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, British Isles, West Africa, the Galapagos, with Russia being the latest addition to this impressive list – signalling a return to the destination which Hurtigruten successfully explored more than 100 years ago

MS Otto Sverdrup joins her hybrid sister ships, MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen.

Hurtigruten, Otto Sverdrup, expedition cruising

The MS Otto Sverdrup, Hurtigruten’s third battery-hybrid powered ship. Pic courtesy Agurtxane Concellon Hurtigruten Expeditions

Katherine Outback Experience

Here’s a roundup of some of the newest things happening. Lockdown blues? High Country at Home to the rescue. Katherine Outback Experience is offering an exclusive outback glamping experience thanks to FlashCamp.  Nestled among stunning shady trees and expansive green lawns the spacious 5-metre bell tents are perfect for couples or friends. There is the option of a king bed or twin share as well as some luxury outback comforts.

This fully operational farm offers plenty to do during the day. Owned by multiple Golden Guitar winner and horseman extraordinaire, Tom Curtain, Katherine Outback Experience celebrates the Northern Territory’s rich pastoral cultural and history. Tom’s outback show includes horse-starting and working dog demonstrations, live music and some bush tales.

Be inspired to get into the saddle yourself on one of the Horse Riding Tours and experiences. At the end of the day, be mesmerised by a stunning Top End sunset as your cosy up around the communal campfire in the exclusive campground.

You never know your luck – Tom Curtain might even sing a song or two. Take it from me, this is an experience you won’t forget.

Katherine Outback Experience  – Glamping

Sea Cloud Spirit officially christened

Sea Cloud Cruises has a brand new three-masted full-rigged ship sailing the seas. The Sea Cloud Spirit was officially named and christened at the cruise terminal in Palma de Mallorca. The 138-metre ship can accommodate up to 136 guests and has all the characteristics of a modern cruise liner, including balcony cabins, a wellness area and a fitness centre.

The new luxurious windjammer brings a breath of fresh air to the cruise market. It is the modern interpretation of the shipping company’s flagship, the Sea Cloud, which has been setting the standard for 90 years. The new ship hand-sailed ship combines the comfort of a five-star luxury ship with the traditional seamanship of those windjammers that pioneered modern world trade in the transition from the 19th to the 20th century.

“May you always carry a special spirit across the oceans, as your name promises,” said Gabriela Toran, who christened the ship. The wife of the ship’s designer Iñigo Echenique took over the godmother duties for the ship after the originally planned godmother Infanta Elena of Spain had to cancel.

The Sea Cloud Spirit will set off on her maiden voyage from Rome on 14 September 2021. After initial voyages along the Italian coast between Tuscany and Sicily, the windjammer will cruise the waters around the Canary Islands from November 2021 to April 2022.

For the winter season 2022/2023, the new ship is scheduled to debut in the Caribbean and Central America, and will also offer voyages from Florida to the smaller Bahamian islands for the first time.

Sea Cloud Cruises, Sea Cloud Spirit

The christening ceremony of the Sea Cloud Spirit. From left to right: Capt. Gerald Schöber, Hermann Ebel, Gabriela Toran, Mileva Ebel, Klaus Gerken, Ulrike Bellmann, Adam Pazdzioch, Iñigo Echenique

High Country Do It At Home Experiences

Lockdown blues? High Country at Home to the rescue.
High tea with meerkats anyone? How about a masterclass in pulling the perfect shot?
High Country at Home is back this Spring with a packed program of brand new and returning by popular demand online classes and entertaining sessions guaranteed to bring good vibes to Groundhog Day.
It’s the perfect excuse to get together and enjoy shared learning experiences with the family, a birthday gift for a friend or some team-building with a twist.

High Country At Home offers a suite of fun, tasty, informative and interactive bookable experiences presented online by some of the region’s most talented makers, roasters, distillers and chefs leading classes, sharing their insights, expert knowledge, tips
and tricks.
These virtual escapes to Victoria’s most spectacular destination have been a hit with hundreds of Melburnians since the first round of experiences launched in April 2020.
It’s as easy as browsing the program at victoriashighcountry.com.au, booking a session and waiting for the postie to deliver all the High Country at Home goodies you and your crew will need for the class.

This time round there’s also a very special treat for kids who can also Zoom with the resident meerkats at Mansfield Zoo as they tuck into a specially prepared afternoon tea.

Click HERE to check out the full list of High Country at Home September 2021 classes.


Delatite Wines is offering a great High Country wine experience.

New Tassie pack-free walk from Life’s an Adventure

Life’s an Adventure has launched a new walk in Tasmania. It is seven days of pure Tasmanian wilderness with accommodation at the spectacular Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge.

The new Lake St Clair, Cradle Mountain & the Walls of Jerusalem walk  immerses you in one of Australia’s most unique and breathtaking national parks. A World Heritage-listed area, this ancient glaciated landscape is filled with Tasmania’s unique and spectacular flora and fauna.

This is an iconic walking holiday that will definitely stretch your legs. You will be walking parts of the world-famous Overland Track as well as the Walls of Jerusalem walk. There is a bit of climb that will elevate heart rates but the views are worth it.

Life’s An Adventure has chosen the best trails and combined them with luxury accommodation, local food and wine and friendly knowledgeable guides to create an unforgettable experience.

Tasmania, Life's an Adventure

Life’s an Adventure’s new Tasmanian Walk takes in Cradle Mountain.

Andrew Daddo appointed as a brand ambassador for PONANT

PONANT has appointed their first brand ambassador for Australasia – Australian media personality Andrew Daddo. Andrew is a familiar face in Australia’s entertainment industry, and in particular adventure travel. As a presenter, author and broadcaster, he is well-known through television, radio and podcasting and has recently ventured into documentary filmmaking with the PONANT Antarctic expedition his first co-production.

In celebration of the appointment, a 45-minute documentary ‘Beyond the Polar Circle’ showcasing Andrew’s once in a lifetime experience sailing onboard PONANT’s Le Boréal to Antarctica will debut via PONANT’s website from Thursday, 30 September 2021. In his inimitable, relaxed manner, Andrew chronicles his thoughts, capturing the moments of anticipation and sheer awe, sharing with viewers his emotions as he discovers the magic of the most remote, majestic destination in the world. Check out the trailer for this documentary here.

PONANT Chairman Asia Pacific Sarina Bratton said Andrew Daddo’s approach to travel and his engaging and laconic style of commentary, aligns perfectly for PONANT in Australasia.

“Andrew’s passion for exploration and discovering the unknown is something that truly resonates with PONANT’s spirit of adventure. Having a multi-faceted relationship with Andrew, sharing a love of golf, travel and adventure, made this an easy decision to formulate the PONANT Ambassador role. We welcome Andrew to our family,” Sarina said.

Of the partnership, Andrew Daddo said “I truly can’t believe my luck. PONANT has a way of making everyone feel incredibly special. That, coupled with world-best destination adventures in genuine luxury and you’d understand my excitement.  As for Antarctica, I filled the cloud and had to buy more memory!”

PONANT, Le Boreal, Andrew Daddo

Andrew Daddo at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia, on a luxury expedition cruise on PONANT’s Le Boreal

Qatar Airways sees world’s first G700

Qatar Executive (QE) welcomed the arrival of the world’s first Gulfstream G700 jet aircraft to the State of Qatar, as part of a special demonstration by the manufacturer honouring QE as the launch customer.

Equipped with the all-new Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines and an advanced high-speed wing design, the G700 is able to fly at record-breaking speed and range with outstanding environmental efficiency, promoting sustainable business aviation. The G700 will be the latest addition to Qatar Executive’s state-of-the-art fleet of long-range and ultra-long-range aircraft. The executive charter service provider has ordered 10 of the world’s largest business jets, and will take delivery of the very first aircraft off the Gulfstream assembly line in Georgia, USA in 2022. The aircraft has been tailor-made exclusively with superior-quality cabins to meet Qatar Executive’s exacting standards.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We take great pride in the expansion of Qatar Executive throughout the ongoing pandemic. The arrival of the Gulfstream G700 in Doha emphasises our position as one of the leading business jet aircraft service providers in the Middle East and around the world. As the global launch customer for this technologically-advanced jet, we look forward to welcoming the G700 into Qatar Executive’s fleet in 2022 and continuing to set new standards in air travel for years to come.

“As a launch customer, we are also proud to reaffirm our commitment to addressing climate change and other environmental impacts through the addition of the technologically advanced G700 to our fleet.

The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 140 destinations. With more frequencies being added to key hubs, Qatar Airways offers unrivalled connectivity to passengers, making it easy for them to change their travel dates or destination as required.

The Ghan is rumbling through the Red Centre once again

Epitomising the resilience of Australia’s tourism industry, The Ghan is up and running again. This iconic train departed Adelaide bound for Darwin on Sunday 5 September – for the first time in a little over two months and for the third time since being forced to stop due to border restrictions.

Following the most recent bout of state lockdowns, The Ghan’s crew was ecstatic to be welcoming guests onboard for their long-awaited rail journey through the heart of Australia.

To further enhance and protect guest wellbeing while travelling, Journey Beyond, the operator of The Ghan, has introduced JourneySafe featuring measures including additional stringent cleaning and sanitising, new staff training, physical distancing and ‘fit for travel’ checks.

Journey Beyond Chief Commercial Officer Peter Egglestone said the pandemic is the latest challenge The Ghan has endured, and that tourism needs to be allowed to continue with added safety measures in place.

“With more than a 90-year history, The Ghan has weathered challenges including a World War, the Great Depression and various pandemics. Its outback pioneering spirit is further cemented with its return this week,” Mr Egglestone said.

“It must be recognised that Australia has managed the pandemic exceptionally well and while it continues to pose challenges, we need to work towards a future that allows people to travel, and for businesses to continue to operate.

“People are experiencing ‘pandemic fatigue’ therefore we need to balance risk and take all reasonable measures to keep them safe while continuing to let them live their lives.

“To help people book with confidence, we are offering 100 per cent refunds on new bookings made from today through 30 September, when guests are unable to travel due to government-mandated restrictions preventing them from boarding,” Mr Egglestone said.

The Ghan is one of the world’s great rail journeys.

Journey Beyond, The Ghan, Alice Springs

The Ghan cuts through the Red Centre

More to explore in Canada

Canada has so much more to explore. Take Saskatoon for example. This destination is a city on the edge of nature. It is the perfect mix of natural beauty and urban amenities. Hike along the winding river and then visit the world’s largest collection of Picasso linocuts. Snowshoe through forested parks and then eat at an internationally acclaimed restaurant. From Indigenous history to modern art, prairie fresh ingredients to contemporary cuisine, kilometres of riverside trails to storied city streets, you’ll make memories and meaningful connections in Saskatoon.

Some of Canada’s oldest evidence of human existence is found in Saskatoon. Relive the stories of the people who came to the prairies to hunt bison, gather food and herbs, and escape the winter winds so long ago. This history comes to life alongside thriving modern Indigenous culture.

Forge a deeper understanding of the people, the land and the history of the people who have called this land home for over 6,400 years.  Saskatoon is built on Treaty 6 Territory and The Homeland of The Metis. A traditional meeting ground, gathering place and travelling route to the Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Métis, Dene, and Nakota Sioux, this land is sacred.

Saskatoon, Canada