From the ATE Floor: Tours and Luxury Lodges of Australia

It’s been a crazy few days of running around on the ATE trade show floor, and my feet are killing me. (Why do I always wear three-inch heels to these things?)

Here’s a taste of what’s happening in Australian tourism ... much more to come!


Taste of South Australia, based in Adelaide, focuses on the cuisine and wineries of the state, giving visitors an insider’s view of two industries that are invariably linked. New this year is the Taste of Adelaide Hills, which visits smaller towns in the suburbs of the city, including Hahndorf (where, last year, I had one of the best meat pies I’d ever tasted, and sampled some amazing chocolates and cheeses and jams and…Yes, foodies should definitely spend a few hours in Hahndorf). In Adelaide, owner Mary Anne Kennedy is offering walking tours of the city that revolve around the popular Farmer’s Market.

Melbourne Private Tours is just what it sounds like: a private tour company geared towards the high-end market and with a focus on immersion rather than sightseeing. One of the company’s more popular options is the four-hour Melbourne After Dark tour, which focuses on the city’s nightlife, including views of the skyline as it lights up for the evening. A popular addition to the catalogue is the chef-led excursion to the Mornington Peninsula, a popular wine-producing region.

Outlet Shopping Tours may be changing its name for the American market, which associates “outlets” with strip malls. The Melbourne-based company instead focuses on wholesale shopping experiences, driving visitors from store to store (averaging 12 stops per day, not including lunch at a local café). The excursions avoid major brands in favor of unique Melbourne properties, making sure each guest gets items that can’t be purchased anywhere else in the world. Private tours are available, and owner Kirsty Grace says that she is working to bring stylists along to offer advice on the tours.

(And for those who aren’t very interested in shopping, Grace also offers sports tours of the city, focusing on Australia’s unique version of soccer.)

Similarly, Hidden Secrets Tours focuses on the backstreets, alleyways and out-of-the-way cafes in Melbourne, giving visitors insider access that larger groups don’t get. All of the tours are customizable and can focus on whatever your client is looking for.


Last year’s ATE marked the announcement of Luxury Lodges of Australia, and since the association’s debut last year two new resorts have joined the fold. With an eye towards exclusivity, however, Executive Officer Penny Rafferty says that the number of members may hold steady at 17 for a while. As long as those 17 properties measure up, though, staying small is fine by Rafferty.

“Luxury is measured in a guest’s satisfaction in their experience,” she says. “It’s a personal connection with something unique and authentic.” To that end, she adds, the Lodges are not places to stay while exploring the surrounding area, but are an integral part of the overall experience of visiting Australia.

Online,, has numerous tools for planning visits to Australia, including brochures in seven languages and downloadable high-resolution images that can be used to help clients get a better sense of the properties. Perhaps, best of all, the site has a tool that measures the distance between lodges for clients traveling around the country, taking into account flight frequencies and direct versus layover flights. 

Suggested Articles:

African Travel Inc. has announced a selection of new, small-group options to southern and east Africa. Read more here.

The Cayman Islands government has unveiled a new tourism initiative inviting telecommuters to live and work remotely from the destination.

The adults-only resort is offering all-inclusive rates starting from $299 per room and special Thanksgiving festivities. Learn more here.