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Friday, 6 May 2022

Pan Pacific Melbourne: REVIEW

Pac Pacific Melbourne is now officially my go to place when in Melbourne.

And with good reason. It's central, welcoming, the beds are super comfy, the staff are next level lovely, and... on floor number four is where I spent my evenings unwinding from the day, before heading out on round two of exploring this cosmopolitan city.

You know when people ask you where you'd like to live if you didn't live in your city?

For me, my Melbourne has my heart. In fact, trip number two this month is imminent.

A pivotal part of any stay, irrespective of what you are doing while you are there, is the place your rest your weary head, and how it recharges you.

Pan Pacific now represents this for me. And I will be forever recommending it to friends who travel to Melbourne. Or, to my friends who live in Victoria and seek a staycation.

Just look at this beauty:

With expansive views across the banks of the Yarra River, in the heart of Melbourne, this luxury hotel houses 396 guest rooms and suites, the easiest parking facilities I have experienced at a hotel (no honking horns on a busy CBD street), an in-hotel bar and restaurant, and a 24-hour fitness centre.

The beds!

Do you judge a hotel by their beds and their pillow menu? Superficial me does!

It's not so shallow when you think about it - how you rest, and how luxe you feel when you start your day as a visitor to another city sets the tone for the rest of the day.

And Pac Pacific Melbourne does that for you. It rests the soul - and your tired feet - and I really believe it's worth the extra dollars when travelling so you leave feeling like, yes... that was a break, and that WAS a departure from my every day.

Just look at this bathroom view... (I take a bath when I stay at any hotel, and this one is quite literally next level...):

In line with the Aussie tourism slogan of 'Holiday Here This Year', Pan Pacific Melbourne started a campaign last year inviting Melbourne locals, regional residents and interstate travellers alike to enjoy a well-earned break in one of the city’s favourite hotels.

I can see why. It's centrally located to the biggest, and best value luxe shopping experience attached to it: DFO is a stroll away, actually adjacent to the hotel.

So, we are talking Furla to Armani to Cotton On to Windsor Smith. On your doorstep, no cabs or walking far to lug bags of luxury shopping. It's the little things that elevate your travel experience, isn't it? 

And... the restaurants! A minute walk away you are surrounded by Melbourne's best: cafes, restaurants, bars, and venues along the South Wharf Promenade, Melbourne casino and the City Centre.

I love to pop in to my eternal Melb fave Thai restaurant Bang Pop, and there are various drinking haunts right next door, so you don't have to go far for a fab feed and drinks. Skip the cab or drive, and have an extra drink, not a worry.

Of course, if you want to go even closer... take the lift to level FOUR inside the hotel!

Here you will find Pacific Club Lounge. Click HERE for more.

It's your private pit stop, with gorgeous views of the city skyline.

It's included in your stay at Pan Pacific Melbourne, and here is what you'll have access to:


  • Pacific Club Lounge is open from Monday to Friday, 6.30am to 9.00pm and Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays, 7:00am to 9:00pm
  • Guests age 12 years old and under are welcome at Pacific Club Lounge before 5.30pm. (Additional charges apply for children between the ages of six to 12 years old. Children below the age of six years old can access the Pacific Club Lounge at no additional charge).
  • Bar services outside of cocktail hour and those not included in club priviledges are chargeable.
  • (*All prices quoted are subject to 10% service charge and 7% government tax).

The large sectioned room gives you the privacy to read the paper and go back and forth on a buffet style brekkie, or enjoy the generous snacks and little plates of delicious morsels like octopus, gnocchi, a cheese board, desserts, and of course drinks. All complimentary, which is a generous part of your stay.

And the food in-house at Pan Pacific Melbourne is incredible, too!

In March 2022, Pan Pacific Melbourne announced the appointment of Deepak Mishra as its new Director of Food & Beverage & Culinary Operations.

David Tonkin, Pan Pacific Hotels Group Cluster General Manager – Melbourne, said of this exciting appointment:

“As Melbourne welcomes back an ever-expanding number of travellers and tourists from both here and abroad, Deepak offers us a wellspring of invaluable – and much needed, experience. He has led culinary teams at some of the industry’s leading hotels right around the world and has a proven track record of delivering innovative and impressive results. He’s the perfect person to redefine and invigorate our food and beverage offering.”

Born on the East coast of India, Deepak trained in classical French cooking, acquiring his professional skills from the Institute of Hotel and Catering Management in India and William Angliss Institute of TAFE/Culinary Academy Melbourne. Moving to Melbourne in the formative stage of his career, Deepak subsequently burnished his skills and culinary repertoire working in some of the world’s most vibrant countries including Singapore, United Arab Emirates and India. 

His new role at Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s flagship Australian property marks something of a return to the fold, having previously worked at both the PARKROYAL Melbourne Airport and Singapore’s PARKROYAL Collection on Pickering, now sporting a CV that has spanned across more than two decades.

Recognised for his innovative approach in presenting a diverse globally influenced cuisine infused with local flavours and ingredients, Deepak’s culinary creations are always passionately backed by his mantra of ‘Passion and Perfection’. His menus continue to push the boundaries while celebrating seasonal, local produce. All of this will stand him in good stead as he oversees the ongoing transformation of Pan Pacific Melbourne’s current food and beverage offering.

When you stay, ensure your daily ritual at Pan Pacific includes visiting Dock 37 Bar & Kitchen, where you'll experience Deepak's culinary skills.

And, just look at this beauty!

See more info HERE.

Described as a "contemporary dining experience at the 2019 Best Restaurant of the Year (Hotel Category), and awarded by the Restaurant and Catering Awards, it's enriched with divine dishes highlighting Australia's fresh local produce awaits you at Dock 37 Bar & Kitchen, one of the best wine bars in Melbourne."

You can explore the magnificent walk-through wine gantry, which is suspended above the bar, housing an exceptional cellar of over 500 wines. Wine buffs, this place is for you.

The bar also serves the perfect settingto enjoy delicious light meals accompanied by signature cocktails, and a large selection of beers and wines.

The menu offering includes a classic cacio e pepe, a cuttlefish ink pasta, a Gippsland Angus steak, a margherita pizza, and a lovely food partnership with local That's Amore cheese and Australian Artisan Salumi, which manifests with menu items including a locally sourced wagyu bresaola from Western Victorian wagyu cattle, and a delicious fiore di burrata.

Next time we're there, we are trying everything on the menu!

Including the tiramisu, and the handmade tartufo.

I love that they also have a 'feed us Nonna' menu! As an Italian Australian, I'd go for this. It's $65 pp and perfect for you and a buddy - some Italian faves included, with pizza and pasta to share and a cheeky dessert, and more.

The opening hours are:

Breakfast – full buffet:
Monday to Friday 6.30am to 10.30am
Saturday to Sunday 6.30am to 11.am

À la carte dinner: authentic Italian cusine 

Bar:
Monday to Sunday 4pm til late, with a bar snack menu available

In-room dining:
Find out more and view the In Room Dining Menus on this link.

Pan Pacific Melbourne have tapped into our desire to stay local, or at least travel within our fair country, with their tailored Urban Escape package.

It's the ideal couples’ or best friend's getaway, offering up a chance for you and your fun plus one to holiday like true city-siders. Enjoy a bottle of sparkling wine and artisan chocolate on arrival (loved this, my fave part of arriving), plus breakfast for two the following morning in the hotel’s restaurant or café.

Prices start from just $335 per couple, and the package includes:
- Overnight luxury accommodation
- Breakfast for two adults in the hotel’s restaurant or café.
- Complimentary bottle of Chandon Brut NV Sparkling Wine and artisan chocolate from the Ministry of Chocolate on arrival

There is also free WiFi, huge TVs in the main bedroom and living area, and savings on self-parking at DFO Shopping Centre located just next door.

This is applicable for stays from 26 October 2021 right through to 30 December 2022!

For more information or to book, visit this link.

Of course, getaways also lend themselves to school holidays, and I hand on heart LOVE nothing more than a hotel stay and exploring my city or a city interstate with my family, or with just my daughter and I.

Shopping and exploring and being silly and ordering room service are our thing when we have a mini stay - we live for it! I can't tell you how fun and bonding the whole experience can be, and next time we are hopping on a plane and doing it in Melbourne at Pan Pacific (again, DFO shopping next door, no jumping on trams or in cabs, perfect!).

In line with this, Pan Pacific Melbourne have introduced the Ultimate Family Staycation package.

You can choose treat the whole family to an unforgettable overnight stay in a two bedroom bay view suite?

During the day, you can visit South Wharf’s many attractions including Melbourne Aquarium, Eureka Skydeck and the new LUME Melbourne, and know that you'll just be a stroll away when the kids get tired. Heaven!

At night, settle into your suite, unwind and watch a complimentary in-room movie of your choice, while indulging in Connoisseur ice cream and a family-sized bucket of fresh popcorn to share!

Priced from just $585, the package includes:

- Accommodation in a two bedroom bay view suite for 2 adults and 2 children
- Breakfast for 2 adults in the hotel’s restaurant or café. Children under 12 years accompanied by a paying adult dine for free
- Complimentary 1-litre tub of Connoisseur ice cream and family sized bucket of popcorn delivered to your room
- One movie of your choice from the in-house movies on demand system

Free WiFi and complimentary self-car parking at DFO Shopping Centre, too!

This is applicable for stays from 26 October 2021 right through to 30 December 2022!

(All offers are subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply).

For more information or to book, visit this link.

And lastly, more of that view, and the surrounds of Pan Pacific Melbourne:







More about Pan Pacific Hotels Group:

Pan Pacific Hotels Group is a member of Singapore-listed UOL Group Limited, one of Asia’s most established hotel and property companies with an outstanding portfolio of investment and development properties.

Based in Singapore, Pan Pacific Hotels Group owns and/or manages more than 50 hotels, resorts and serviced suites including those under development in 31 cities across Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe.

Voted “Best Regional Hotel Chain” by readers in Asia from 2017 to 2020, Pan Pacific Hotels Group comprises three brands: Pan Pacific, PARKROYAL COLLECTION, and PARKROYAL.

Sincerity is the hallmark of Pan Pacific Hotels Group. The Group is known to its guests, partners, associates and owners for its sincerity in people and the sense of confidence which alleviates the stresses of today’s complex world.


Josie's Juice was kindly provided with a complimentary stay at Pan Pacific Melbourne.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Pivot your pool to a gym with five simple accessories: Poolfit

Pivot your pool to a gym with five simple accessories!

Enter Poolfit.



YES!

Pivot your pool to a gym with a few fun accessories. Aside from keeping you cool, aqua fitness sessions can boost your workout's benefits.  

 

Until recently, I didn't know much about aqua fitness. However, I was lucky enough to experience some deep-water workouts with the fitness streaming app Poolfit.


Aside from having an inexhaustible number of expert-led workouts (over 125!), it has really detailed blogs and advice on how to exercise safely in the pool, as well what equipment you need to pivot your pool to a gym. 

I had a chat with Poolfit’s founder and certified training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), Mark Grevelding about how to turn that refreshing dip into a really fun workout.




Pivot Your Pool With A Buoyancy Belt

So, this was Number One on my aqua-fitness shopping list. Buoyancy belts, AKA Floatation belts, are used for deep water workouts, where you need to remain afloat to do the routine. Such workouts might include Deep Water Running or Walking.

There's also a workout called Deep Core Express, which is great for toning abdominal muscles, as well as helping to strengthen your back and spine (safely, thanks to the support the water offers...). 

"The floatation belt is used firstly for safety," says Mark, "but equally as important, to provide maximum core recruitment. It also keeps you vertical while you workout, so your arms and legs are free to complete the exercises in each routine." 

Aqua Foam Dumbbells

Few things pivot your pool to a gym like these beauties. While they're super lightweight when used on land, add water and you've got equipment that packs a resistant, strength-building punch. 

"They interact with the water's buoyancy," explains Mark. "So, when you push them downwards they encounter resistance, which is the opposite of weighted equipment, which encounters resistance when moved upwards.”  

Similar to a workout in the studio, not all muscles can be targeted with foam dumbbells.  “If you do an arm curl with weights in the studio, only the biceps are targeted, and if you do an arm curl with foam dumbbells in the pool, only the triceps are targeted,” explains Mark.

The good news is that you can switch to using no equipment or to using drag equipment and both sides of the muscle are worked by the water’s resistance.

Use Your Noodle

There are a number of exercises that incorporate pool noodles, and give you the same kind of results you would expect at the gym. These range from yoga asanas, to core exercises, right through to total body workout routines.

Noodles can also be used for an Upper Body Workout or you can recreate Leg Day in the pool.

"For a more challenging workout, you can choose a denser noodle, which doesn't have a hole in the centre," suggests Mark. "If you're new to aqua fitness, I'd recommend using a less dense noodle that perhaps has a hole in its centre." 

Add Some Webbing

Webbed gloves are a fantastic way to increase drag when you're working out your upper body in the water. Just as a duck's webbed feet help propel it through the pond, your webbed gloves will create similar drag that also adds momentum to  your movement. 

"They will increase resistance, making your muscles work harder," explains Mark. 

Think: improved muscle tone in your arms and shoulders and altogether better posture. 

A Splash Proof Device Case And Stand

These are likely your most important items when you want to pivot your pool to a gym. After all, we all know water is like Kryptonite to devices. I picked up a really great waterproof iPad cover from Wild Earth, and a super stylish folding aluminium stand from the Apple Store.

From there, all you need to do is stream the Poolfit workout of your choice using your WIFI or Bluetooth, or download them before you hit the pool so you can tap, watch and workout anywhere, without the need for WIFI!

What are you waiting for?

See what Poolfit is about right HERE.








Saturday, 5 February 2022

Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary: REVIEW






Walkabout Park Wildlife Sanctuary
feels like you're stepping into the home of that animal loving family who tell you all about their pets, their quirks, their names, and their cute idiosyncrasies. 

In fact, this wildlife sanctuary really does feel like a sanctuary for our furry friends.

Their own website gives such a wonderful backgrounder to the history of the place.

The 'gentle and unpretentious South African insurance executive' somehow came to be the guardian of this unique slice of Australian cultural and environmental heritage, and she explains it best.

Tassin Barnard, with her husband Gerald, own and manage this feral-proofed wildlife preserve on the Central Coast of New South Wales, and it all happened while house hunting.

While "looking for a house in the bush with no neighbours" - and over a decade later - they're still wondering how it came about that they are now the protectors of 80 acres of Australian bush alive with native wildlife and imprinted with ancient Aboriginal sites.


In fact, for the first five years of owning the sanctuary, Tassin commuted between an executive job in high finance in Melbourne, and the magical haven that is Walkabout Park on the NSW Central Coast.

Previously known as the Calga Springs Sanctuary, the Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park has been open since April 2001, but came into the Barnards' lives in September 2005.

It's a 50 minute drive north of Sydney, and it's the only feral-free natural bushland in NSW that also has the fortune to contain ancient Aboriginal sites, including cave paintings and middens.

While the whole site is roughly 170 acres, the area free of feral predators amounts to 80 acres. 

Surrounded by a state-of-the-art fox- and cat-proof fence, the exclusion zone is home to around 180 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs. Many of these animals are species on the verge of extinction, but here, protected from introduced dangers, they're thriving.

They consider it a "serendipitous find", but in the beginning the Barnards had no intention of becoming the guardians of the native creatures of a foreign land... their only real desire was to find a bushland home for their family.

When their real estate journey began, there was no way of knowing they would fall irrevocably in love with this unique but labour-intensive place. "We were looking, you could say, for a rural idyll," says Tassin. "Gerald saw this place in a magazine. It was quite dramatic – he clutched it to his chest and said, 'I'm about to show you something I know I'm going to regret!'

"So I was incredibly curious when he finally handed it over," says Tassin

Initially unimpressed by the ad, and Gerald's enthusiasm, Tassin nevertheless agreed to have a look. "Even once we got here, I didn't feel excited. It was so far from what we were looking for that I couldn't relate to what I was seeing. I left, but I couldn't get it out of my head."

Tassin soon discovered the park had got under her skin. "It was just so alive," she says.

"When you think of the bush, you think of quiet. What I realise now is that quietness is just aridity – it's the result of our destruction of the environment."

The preserve is filled with often uncelebrated animals, and the irony of this sanctuary is that the hum of the freeway is a stark contrast to the bustle of creatures in the undergrowth.

A view to ponder is: snakes, spiders and lizards - treated as vermin by city dwellers - are treasured members of this wild community.

The more the Barnards explored the park, the more committed to its survival they became.

"Barry Cohen [minister for the Arts, Heritage and Environment in the Hawke Government] bought this place when he retired," explains Tassin. "He said to me that at the end of his stint overseeing the environment he finally realised that it wasn't humans who were the biggest threat to native animals, but the predators we'd introduced."

Inspired by his former portfolio, Barry Cohen bought the land, had it rezoned and spent 13 years predator-proofing the sanctuary. In 2005, ready to retire and move on to a more leisurely life, he put the park up for sale. "The more we saw and the longer we talked to Barry, the more I realised not just how important his mission was but how much potential this place has," says Tassin.

Described as "10 Traumatic Years and $1,000,000" their story continues:

The Barnards had no way of knowing that they were about to embark on the fight of their lives. 10 days after taking up residence at Walkabout Park, the bulldozers moved into the bush next door. Rumbling up and down Walkabout Park's fox-proof fence-line, the bulldozers destroyed the fox-proofing and the animals inside were immediately vulnerable. This was the start of a nightmare for the Barnards. The NSW State Government was in the process of trying to sell the state-owned land next door to a multinational sand quarry. Initially worried only about the noise and the dust and their impact on the animals of, and visitors to, Walkabout Park, the Barnards at that stage had little comprehension of the real dangers that lay in store.

As they frantically educated themselves about what would be affected by this development, they learned first about the endangered animal and plant species that would be destroyed. The dangers to the environment began to dawn on them, but they still had little understanding of the extent of what was at stake. As they learned about aquifers (the sandstone 'spongue' that holds the subeterranean watersupply that sustains the area) and about sand quarrying (not scooping up sand in the desert, but crushing the aquifer rock into sand to truck it away to Sydney to build houses and make cement products) their alarm grew. Then they heard about 'hanging swamps' and what they mean for the environment, and what would happen once their water supply was cut off. And what about the Aboriginal sites?

A classic case of David and Goliath, and self described as "when good prevails", the culmination of this learning journey was the insight into - and legal acknowledgement of - the fact that the Aboriginal cultural landscape of the area includes a Women's Site that the archaeologists and anthropologists involved on both sides of the battle agreed is the most significant Aboriginal Women's Place in NSW, that there were others but they are all known to have been destroyed! It was ultimately this that saved the Calga Valley.

After eight years, from 2005 to 2013 fighting a political fight to stop the NSW Planning Minister from approving the quarry, two years from 2013 to 2015 fighting a legal battle in the NSW Land and Environment Court to overturn the Planning Minister's approval, the Barnards achieved what they had been told was not achievable.

They had taken the government to court, and they had won! Costing them all of their savings, and all of the working capital that they should have been putting into Walkabout Park, with no hope of getting any of it back, they are still smiling (or, at least, smiling again).

They add:

"Walkabout Park and the Calga Valley have a future. It is a tenuous one as the environment is constantly under siege by greedy and short-sighted developers and politicians, but they did win and the law is now on their side."

From our perspective, as visitors in January 2022, we couldn't have asked for a more hospitable welcome to the sanctuary.

It was actually an incredibly good feeling knowing we were entering the home of these beautiful creatures and they were so well looked after, not in captivity and not treated like show pieces for the visiting public, instead incredibly valued and loved and understood for who they are as creatures.

The park can be comfortably done in one day, and it's ideal to come on a day where it's too hot and wearing walking shoes, so you can do the bush walks on offer, and explore and enjoy the beauty of the Aboriginal sites, and cave paintings.

It's kind of imperative to do the meerkat experience - they are the cutest little critters on the planet, and very quick and intelligent little beings.




It's additional to the cost of entry, but you won't forget the fun these little guys exude and the joy they'll give you!

To book, call 02 4375 1100 or email info@walkaboutpark.com.au




Want to stay overnight, or explore the wildlife after dark?

Go the 'Wild Night Out' option.

For ages 16 and over only, it costs $180 for the first 1 or 2 people, then add $40 for each additional person.


There is also the all ages experience option, AND a 'private wild night out' experience.

Staying through the night is also an option for you! Book an eco cabin - ask them more HERE.

And... YOU can make a difference to this incredible Australian asset.

It's important to know that Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park does not receive any government assistance for operating costs - it's privately owned, with the park's operations funded by visitors and the owners' savings.

Sponsors, donations and volunteers make it possible for the Walkabout Park team to continue their conservation and education work. Walkabout Park is dependent on our support.

You can also, and I love this, donate things you have and don't need.

They say:

"You may have things lying around at home, or surplus stock in your business, that aren't useful to you but may be extremely useful for us. Donations or contributions 'at cost' will be gratefully appreciated. Right now, just some of the things we need include..."

  • Mulcher
  • Trailer
  • Industrial water blaster
  • Fencing, gates and gate posts
  • Reinforced glass panels
  • Rakes, brooms, wheelbarrows and hand tools
  • Small power tools
  • Pet packs and animal transport boxes
  • Bird aviaries and small animal hutches
  • Garden tool sheds
  • Long hoses and hose fittings
  • Portable water tank

You can also do a virtual visit, or even adopt an animal! YEP, adopt a bandicoot or flying fox, or a kangaroo or koala, or even a python.

Go HERE to do all that.

For all information, go HERE.