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What's New in Australia and New Zealand?

July 13, 2016 By: Joe Pike

Brisbane, Australia at night. // Photo by Robertson

From new flights to the latest hotel happenings, Travel Agent decided to highlight the latest travel news for clients heading to either New Zealand or Australia this summer and beyond. 

United Airlines Launches New Flights From San Francisco to Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand. // Photo by Walton

United Airlines recently launched new nonstop service between its premier Pacific gateway at San Francisco International Airport and Auckland, New Zealand.

United's inaugural service to Auckland also marks the official start of the airline's joint venture agreement with Air New Zealand. The carriers are deepening their existing Star Alliance relationship by offering customers more choice and convenience when booking travel between the United States and New Zealand and beyond.

"Our new joint venture with Air New Zealand allows both airlines to optimize our transpacific schedules and offer customers more choice and convenience when traveling between the U.S. and New Zealand," said Jim Compton, United's vice chairman and chief revenue officer, in a written release. "Our customers wanted new ways to access New Zealand and destinations beyond and our relationship with Air New Zealand allows customers to plan seamless travel throughout the South Pacific."

United will operate Boeing 787-8 aircraft on the San Francisco to Auckland inaugural route, which are built using lightweight composites, state-of-the-art engines and an improved aerodynamic design, allowing the planes to fly farther, faster and more efficiently than similar-sized conventional aircraft.

United Flight 917 will depart San Francisco at 10:45 p.m. three times weekly, arriving at Auckland International Airport at 6:55 a.m. two days later due to time zone differences (all times local). On the return, Flight 916 will depart Auckland at 1:20 p.m. daily, arriving at San Francisco International Airport at 6:40 a.m. the same day. Flying times will be roughly 13 hours westbound and 12 hours, 20 minutes eastbound.

United's joint venture partner Air New Zealand operates a daily service between San Francisco and Auckland, departing San Francisco at 9:45 p.m. and arriving in Auckland at 5:35 a.m. two days later due to time differences. The return flight departs Auckland at 7:45 p.m. and arrives in San Francisco at 12:45 p.m. the same day.


Crystal Cruises to Open New Australia Office

Karen Christensen will head the new office

Crystal Cruises has announced the opening of a new corporate regional office in Sydney, Australia. The office will represent Crystal Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal River Cruises, and will serve as the center for sales, marketing, finance and reservations for Australia and New Zealand

Karen Christensen, who most recently served as general manager and director of sales and marketing (Asia Pacific) for Silversea Cruises, will head the new office as managing director and senior vice president. Christensen’s first official day with Crystal will be August 1. 

As a result of the new office, Crystal will end its partnership with Wiltrans International Travel

Christensen has spent nearly 10 years as the general manager of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), having founded and served as chairman and board director of CLIA’s Australasia division. Christensen resides in Sydney, where she will lead a sales and marketing team and report directly to Edie Rodriguez, Crystal’s CEO and president.


St. Mary’s Residence in Auckland Now Taking Reservations

St. Mary's ResidenceSt. Mary's Residence, a designer retreat situated in the center of Auckland, New Zealand, is now available for booking.

Affording views of Waitemata Harbour and Harbour Bridge, the 3,670 square-foot property has contemporary interiors and outdoor terraces, and provides a fully serviced alternative to a five star hotel presidential suite or penthouse apartment.

St. Mary’s Residence can accommodate up to six guests, and comprises a European-styled kitchen, a master suite with a limestone bathroom and a private lounge, bar and roof terrace. There is also space for celebrating special occasions and events, conducting private business meetings and hosting product launches for up to thirty five people. In addition, personalized catering menus are available upon request.

Guests can also have breakfast prepared by a private chef, and dishes are often created using seasonal produce, organic ingredients and are paired with a selection of the property’s wine and beverage collection.

Driver service is available for transfers, as well as personal transportation (additional charges apply), business meetings and appointments, shopping, spa and entertainment destinations and Auckland restaurants, bars and cafes. The residence’s location allows guests access to multiple conference facilities, attractions, concert venues, international shows and sporting events. There is also a lifestyle concierge that can provide a curated selection of local experiences and activities.

Rates for the Pacific Ocean Master Suite, which can accommodate up to two guests, start at NZD $3,000 per night, plus a 15 percent goods and services tax (gst). The Courtyard Garden Suite can be added to the master suite to accommodate four guests for a rate of NZD $4,500 per night, while the addition of the Companion Room starts at a rate of NZD $5,250 per night (plus 15 percent gst). 

Rates for an exclusive villa rental, both short and long term, are available upon request and vary depending on a fully serviced or independent style of stay. Exclusive meeting and event venue hire is also provided upon request. 


Sydney to Get New Four Points by Sheraton Hotel

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with joint venture partners Frasers Property Australia and Sekisui House Australia to open the Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Central Park. Located in the AU$2-billion Central Park urban village at the former Old Kent Brewery site, the 297-room new-build hotel is scheduled to open in 2018 as part of a mixed-use development.

The hotel is close to Sydney’s Central Station and will be showcased on the prominent facade of the Central Park precinct. The new development is adjacent to the University of Technology Sydney and University of Notre Dame.

Starwood has 21 hotels open in the Pacific, including three Four Points by Sheraton properties in Sydney (pictured), Brisbane and Perth. Another Four Points is slated to open in Melbourne next year.

The hotel also joins nine properties under development in the region: the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows, Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands, Aloft Perth Rivervale, Westin Perth, Aloft Adelaide, Westin Brisbane, W Brisbane and Sheraton Adelaide.

Starwood Shuffles Hotels in Australia

Starwood is playing musical chairs with its properties in Australia. France's Sofitel brand is set to take over the the Sheraton Noosa in southeast Queensland, while the Four Points by Sheraton will be rebranded as a Hyatt Regency later this year, The Australian reports. . 

The new owners of the Noosa hotel, Sydney-based investors Arthur Laundy and Greg Karedis, bought the Noosa hotel for $110 million last year, adding to their growing hotel portfolio that includes the Manly Pacific Hotel which they acquired in 2003 for $56 million. 

At the same time, Starwood has reportedly picked up the management rights to two new Four Points by Sheraton hotels in Sydney with an estimated 620 rooms between them, as well as a new Westin resort hotel to be developed on a Queensland beach. It will be the country's first beachfront Westin resort.

Other Starwood projects under development include an Aloft by W in Perth, which opens late this year; the Westin Perth that is under construction and the Four Points by Sheraton Docklands in Melbourne that opens at the end of this year. Another project is the W Brisbane that is under construction and will open before the Commonwealth Games.

An Aloft by W is under way in Adelaide, as is a Sheraton hotel.

Keep visiting for all your latest Australia and New Zealand travel news and be sure to follow Travel Agent's Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike

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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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By Joe Pike | July 13, 2016
Travel Agent breaks down the latest travel news for clients heading to either New Zealand or Australia this summer and beyond.