Starwood Hotels and Resorts in various destinations have seen an increase in New Zealand guests over the past 12 months or so and the trend was reflected in strong interest by the New Zealand travel trade at an expo in Auckland recently.
The Starwood Expo reached New Zealand for the first time this year, with two sessions at the Maritime Room in Auckland and Sydney based regional director of sales and marketing Ashley Hansen says the exercise is almost certain to be repeated.
Some 190 retailers, product managers, corporate travel managers and professional incentive and conference managers RSVP’d to the event.
‘With that sort of response, we definitely see that there is keen interest in Starwood out of this market. People want to know about our brands and our destinations.’
Hansen says the interest has been two way, with hotel representatives from the Pacific, Australia, California, greater China, Macau, Malaysia, Bali and other destinations all heading to Auckland for the expo.
He says the company has plenty of news to share with the trade, including a new Aloft, announced two weeks ago, for Sydney. ‘That will be the second Aloft in Australia and with 133 rooms will bring a different style of four star hotel to Sydney.’
Hansen says Starwood remains optimistic about getting a hotel presence in New Zealand again and hinted that the company is contemplating an Aloft here amongst its options.
The launch of Chimu Adventures in New Zealand was held (fittingly) at Besos Latinos Restaurant in Elliot Stables Auckland last night.
The Fiesta Latina themed event was the opportunity to promote Chimu’s programmes and attributes. Director Greg Carter says the company prides itself on its local knowledge. ‘We operate on the ground – we contract our own hotels, our own drivers, our own guides etc.’
New Zealand based director Rachel Williams emphasises that Chimu operates only in South America and Antarctica.
The company highlighted four catalogues at the event in May, focusing on Antarctica, luxury, and tailor made and group tours.
A traditional pōhiri on Te Puia’s Rotowhio marae, with greetings extended from elders from throughout the central North Island region, provided a grand welcome to New Zealand exhibitors, international buyers and media representatives to TRENZ 2015, hosted this year in Rotorua by eXplore Central North Island.
Rotorua Mayor, the Hon. Steve Chadwick, welcomed people from the four corners of the world to the ‘cultural heart’ of the North Island. Those who had attended the last TRENZ in Rotorua, in 2008, would see substantial changes in the region, she said.
‘We are on a journey of refreshing and renewing ourselves in the central North Island. You are going to enjoy manaakitanga, and feel the spirit of this special place.’
Te Arawa leader Bishop Kingi said he looked forward to everyone working together and talking together, so that Aotearoa New Zealand would be on the world stage, in the Pacific Ocean and beyond.
TIA chief executive, Chris Roberts, accorded respect to the ceremonial cloak he was loaned for the occasion with his response in reo. He then thanked the hosts for such an extremely warm welcome and said it had been the best way to start TRENZ 2015.
At the Skal ladies lunch held yesterday at the Stamford Plaza Auckland, members and invited guests learnt about the art of chocolate making from Devonport Chocolates’ owner and guest speaker, Stephanie Everitt. ‘Sourcing a decent supply of cocoa beans is one of our biggest challenges,’ she pointed out. ‘We import from Europe, meaning our cocoa takes a while to reach us. But in Samoa, namely Savai’i, a plantation of Cacao trees is starting to yield fruit, which is appealing to us as due to shorter travelling distances.’
Everitt also confirmed that the darker the chocolate, the better it is matched with a fuller bodied red wine.
Having all of its operations under one roof, albeit over two floors, has one of the big advantages of the recent move to The Travel Corporation’s recent move to new offices at 131 New North Rd in Auckland. Notably, this means the Adventure World team in New Zealand is now in the same premises as those from AAT Kings, Insight Vacations, Trafalgar, Contiki, and Uniworld.
The move was marked late last week with a house warming party, attended by Brett Tollman The Travel Corporation’s global chief executive officer, and a wide representation of the New Zealand travel trade.