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    News bites – 24 Feb 2020

    Embark on a Secret Cherry Blossom Experience in Regional Japan


    Image courtesy of Visit Kinosaki & Takeno Beach

    With the winter snow starting to melt, and spring on the way, Japan will soon be celebrating its coveted cherry blossom, or sakura, season. Although many flock to the main cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka to view one of the world’s most beloved floral spectacles, there are some off-the-beaten-path locations where travellers can experience the magic of sakura season without the crowds.

    One such place is Kinosaki Onsen – one of the top onsen destinations in the Kansai region. From enjoying a restful beach escape to seeing the blossoms in a historic castle town, here are five experiences to help you make the most of Japan’s sakura season and enjoy your time in and around the location known as Japan’s Best Hot Spring Town.

    An authentic experience

    Kinosaki Onsen is a great place to see the sakura, both during the day and at night. A soft pink canopy of blossoms adorns the cherry trees which stretch for nearly a kilometre along the banks of the canal from Ichino Yu, one of the town’s seven public onsen.

    Under the night sky experience

    Return to this idyllic part of town at night for an equally magical experience. When the blossoms are lit up at night, it’s like thousands of tiny pink lanterns softly glowing. It is incredibly romantic and the perfect setting for an evening stroll.

    A traditional experience

    When travelling, it’s often a good idea to do as the locals do. In the case of sakura, the locals love to relax on a blanket under the cherry blossom trees. Enjoying the flowers while eating a packed lunch is a traditional pastime in Japan called hanami or “flower viewing”. One excellent place to partake in this hanami tradition is in Izushi, a traditional castle town nearby Kinosaki Onsen.

    Seaside experience

    Cherry blossoms by the seaside… could there be anything more beautiful? For a truly unique experience, head to Takeno, a quiet village with many blossom trees. The village isn’t far from Kinosaki Onsen. Travel for five minutes on the JR train and walk 20 minutes from Takeno Station to the beach. There you can witness the pinks of the sakura against the striking blue Japan Sea. Hike up to the top of Mt. Jajayama to see a view of the town and the ocean bordered by cherry blossoms.

    Immersive experience

    Travellers to Kinosaki Onsen can take their blossom experience to a whole new level. A yukata is a more casual, lightweight, summer version of a traditional kimono, which you can rent for a professional photoshoot. Although most ryokans in town provide yukata for their guests, there is also a yukata shop & rental in town, IROHA. This shop offers a greater variety of colours and designs than most hotels, and travellers can choose from a wide selection of stylish models.

    It is currently predicted that in 2020, the cherry blossoms in Kinosaki Onsen will begin to bloom on March 31st and will reach full bloom on April 4th.

    Crown Towers Sydney Set to Open Three Months Ahead of Schedule


    Image courtesy of Sydney Crown Towers

    Questions as to whether the new Crown Towers Sydney will live up to the hype have finally been answered following the release of a series of never-before-seen renders. And the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Set to open in Barangaroo in December 2020, three months ahead of schedule, the Crown Towers Sydney will deliver a level of luxury unparalleled in Australia.

    With award-winning architect Wilkinson Eyre at the helm, backed by an internationally renowned team of the world’s best designers, the Crown Towers Sydney is nothing short of an architectural masterpiece. The hotel stands at 275 metres high, making it the tallest in Sydney. Overlaid with a façade comprised of more than 8,000 glass panels, all individually cut, the Crown Towers Sydney’s unique structure sees it twist as it rises in a petal-like formation. This hotel’s shape has created an innovative design opportunity, creating unique floors at each level and framing the views of Sydney’s most iconic harbour side landmarks. The concentric nature of the building means that every one of the rooms has a distinctive configuration.

    The hotel has been designed to stand amongst the finest hotels in world. Leading international design teams have been brought in to create something truly unique for Sydney that’s international in feel, but celebrates the beauty of Sydney and its surrounds.

    Featuring 349 guest rooms including 20 villas and two premium villas, the top villa will span an extraordinary 820 metres across two levels and will be the highest habitable space in any hotel in Sydney.

    The interiors were designed by Meyer Davis, and showcase refined luxury with coastal hues. The design was inspired by the hotel’s waterfront location, with 50 custom-made crystal light pieces along with a chandelier that is close to eight metres long on display. The guest bathrooms will feature Ella Blue Marble walls, Nero Marquina floors and custom-made baths, Jacuzzis in the villas and bespoke fittings by Apaiser and Hansgrohe, while Balinese inspired landscaping is seen throughout the hotel.

    Blainey North, an Australian architecture and interior design firm that specialises in luxury environments, created a Sydney Harbour inspired design for the Crown Spa.  Crown’s touch-screen technology, from 24-hour in-room dining and concierge services to media streaming, will make the guest rooms a personalised experience.

    In designing the hotel rooms, the aim was to emphasise the curvaceous, sensual shape of the building and to enhance the guest’s experience. The designers were struck by Sydney’s ethereal light and selected materials that reflected this, with a colour palette of silver, white, and grey, highlighted by brass, polished black and nickel.

    The Crown Spa Sydney will offer two specialty treatments beds, ‘Quartz Plassmo’ and ‘Spa Wave’, which are designed to elevate Crown’s wellness offering, as well as a private fitness studio adorned with TechnoGym’s exclusive ‘Artis’ equipment and an open-air tennis court. On the third level, there’s an expansive infinity pool and terrace that has been designed to connect with the panoramic harbour views. There are cabanas and day beds for guests to relax on while overlooking the beauty of Sydney’s harbour.

    For more personalised information tips and advice, or to book these incredible holiday experiences, contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager here.

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