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    News bites – 11 April 2021

    Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour

    Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Image courtesy Opera Australia

    Bow ties and black dresses were dusted off after months in the COVID cupboard for an array of the all-powerful at the opening of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, featuring La Traviata. After the fury of the floods, it was looking more like the wellies coming out of the wardrobes of the Sydney set. However the stars twinkled and the rain had dissipated.

    Celebrities speckled the crowd including a dapper looking Alan Joyce, Ita Buttrose, Sam Neill and more.

    Fireworks at La Traviata at Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Image by Opera Australia

    A huge chandelier was jostling with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge for centre stage attention but when the music began, the stage won out. Until the fireworks rained down. The closest you can get to fireworks on Sydney harbour without the crowds of a New Year’s Eve.

    Verdi’s La Traviata is your typical opera. It’s a love story too. Violetta is a party girl who finally falls for Alfredo Germont. Things seem fine while they are in the countryside together until Alfredo’s father comes and spoils it all telling Violetta to relinquish her one chance of happiness with Alfredo. In this day and age it is hard to relate to her giving in but of course she must or there would be no story.

    The character of Alfredo Germont at Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Image by Opera Australia

    La Traviata was originally set in the 1850s but Opera Australia’s production has it in the glamorous 50s. The colour and vibe on the night was one of excitement at Sydney getting to go out and play after a year indoors. Stacey Alleaume stole the show in the role of Violetta. Her lover, Alfredo (Rame Lahaj) was the perfect complement and backed by the fine voices of Michael Honeyman as Giorgio Germont.

    La Traviata – a 1930s rendition at Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Image by Opera Australia

    Mr Handa is responsible for yet another sensational night on the harbour with Opera Australia and one we have all been waiting for over a year to see.

    Dust off the passport – New Zealand is open for luxury

    Lodge at the Hills Queenstown. Image courtesy Tourism NZ

    Those of us who have been suffering from on-the-ground-syndrome can soon take to the cloudy skies for the ultimate in a fluffy adventure in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Jacinda Ardern has announced that from 18th April 11:59 pm Australians can travel to our sister ‘state’ quarantine free.

    New Zealand has some of the most refined global accommodation from divine lodges to glam hotels. Today we are listing some of the best and most private villas, where you can be feeling like royalty and breathing some fresh Kiwi air. Many offer additional services such as private chefs, local guides and knowledgeable staff to immerse you into New Zealand’s best authentic luxury experiences.

    Lodge at the Hills, Queenstown – Approximately: $NZ 33,000 – $38,000 per night

    The pool at Lodge at the Hills Queenstown. Image courtesy Tourism NZ

    Set in a glacial valley on 500 acres and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the Lodge at the Hills is pure indulgence. From grand entrances and voids to intimate nooks, and private sitting rooms in the suites, Lodge at The Hills is an architectural masterpiece. Each of the six-bedroom suites are individual in their design and luxurious furnishings. They have their own sitting area with gas fire, ensuite with soak tub and picture-perfect views. The outstanding outdoor facilities include a championship sized grass tennis court, heated infinity swimming pool, sauna and spa. Private rentals only for you or for you and eleven guests.

    Omaru Bay, Waiheke Island – Approximately: $NZ 21,000 – $34,000 per night

    Omaru Bay on Waiheke Island. Image courtesy Tourism NZ

    Waiheke Island is often referred to as the Hamptons of the North Island. It’s just 35 minutes from Auckland where you can escape the stress of the city and be immediately amongst the calm respite of island life. Omaru Bay is on the eastern side of the island. Nestled into the hillside with a north east facing aspect, this luxury hideaway offers an eight metre infinity pool suspended in the air, expansive decks drenched in sunlight and comfortable interiors. Split over two levels, there is one king bedroom with ensuite, five split king bedrooms – four with ensuites and one with a shared bathroom and one room with three bunk beds. Great for families or a corporate retreat.

    The Dacha, Wanaka – Approximately: $NZ 8,000 – $11,500 per night

    The Dacha Wanaka. Image courtesy Tourism NZ

    Lake Wanaka is the backdrop to this stunning private residence. The living area of The Dacha main lodge offers 177 square metres of living area featuring a soaring 4.8 metre vaulted ceiling and clerestory. The lounge has an impressive schist clad fireplace which in winter casts an ambient glow while the mountains dominate the horizon across the lake. A stunning setting for guests to relax and share stories with a drink in hand by firelight.

    In summer the wall of glass bi-fold doors can be opened, allowing the inside of the home to flow seamlessly out onto the large outside deck giving stunning 180-degree views of Lake Wanaka and the mountains beyond.

    Your personal chef is available to prepare breakfast using local organic produce, while your personal concierge can help plan another day in paradise. Endless walking trails, mountain climbs, water sports, skiing, heli-adventures and wine tours are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Aurum, Wanaka – Approximately: $NZ 2,650 per night

    Aurum Wanaka. Image Courtesy Tourism NZ

    This luxury home offers an unimpeded view of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. Floor to ceiling glass doors open to an expansive, sun drenched deck with a seasonal view. This three bedroom three bathroom ultra-modern home maximises the ever-changing view. Complete with a fully equipped kitchen, BBQ, luxurious furnishings and fine New Zealand art this property provides the ideal setting to relax with friends and family.

    Omaio – Approximately: $NZ 1,850.00 – $ 2,500.00

    Omaio Queenstown. Image courtesy Tourism NZ

    Don’t forget your boule for a spot of pétanque or perhaps a game of tennis is more your thing. This contemporary home offers a court and a pétanque pitch with private trails around the wetlands and huge grounds for the family to play.

    This luxury Queenstown accommodation offering promises to delight – with views towards Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona, guests can enjoy all day sunshine in this bright north facing home. Coronet Peak Ski area is just a short 15-minute drive away and if you are visiting Queenstown for a winter holiday, you can simply pull back the curtains each morning to check the snow. In the summer months, enjoy watching paragliders descend over the Wakatipu Basin, as you enjoy a glass of local Pinot Noir next to the outdoor fireplace.

    Eichardts – Penthouse approximately: $NZ 10,000 per night

    Eichardt’s Penthouse private balcony. Image courtesy Eichardt’s Private Hotel

    Eichardt’s Private Hotel has been a landmark in Queenstown for over 150 years. There is luxury accommodation aplenty consisting of seven suites, four comfortably appointed Lakefront Apartments, The Residence and The Penthouse.

    Straight to the top we say and in a private lift sounds fine. This new wing offers uninterrupted views across Lake Wakatipu to the mountains beyond. With 240 square metres of spacious living areas, indoor and outdoor kitchens, two large bedrooms, marble bathrooms, sauna, spa and Queenstown’s largest private terrace, The Penthouse is the ultimate in luxury accommodation.

    Exquisitely designed you will want for nothing. Sauna? Tick, Kitchen with Gaggenau and Sub Zero appliances? Tick, Pool? Tick, Fireplace tick. You’ll never want to leave. However if you do you won’t have to go far. There is a private sanctuary in the Vault Spa for personalised restorative therapies. And for a unique cruise try Pacific Jemm, Eichardt’s 80 foot ‘Falcon-S’ luxury yacht.

    Prices mentioned are a guide only. For more personalised information tips and advice, or to book an incredible holiday, contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager.

    With compliments of First Class: visit them online or at Instagram