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COMO Hotels & Resorts expects to add an address in Sydney’s CBD to its global collection within the next two years.. The hospitality and wellness specialist has 16 properties around the world in Bali, Thailand, Bhutan, Maldives, Tuscany, London, Turks & Caicos, Australia (COMO The Treasury in Perth) and the group’s most recent addition, Fiji’s Laucala Island, which joined the luxury stable 14 months ago.

Representatives from COMO Hotels & Resorts have been travelling the country this week and last. Joining the delegation in Sydney from COMO’s HQ in Singapore was COMO’s Doris Goh, Vice President – Commercial. Goh offered insight on the brand to media, saying the Australian market was very important given its location to the bulk of COMO’s collection in Southeast Asia (three properties in Bali and two in both Thailand and Bhutan), the Maldives (two) and Fiji. She confirmed that Australian travellers were generating a significant share of business for COMO Laucala Island in Fiji. 

Sydney on the radar for Como

Domestically, COMO The Treasury has been part of the portfolio since its opening eight years ago in 2015. But when quizzed about further expansion in Australia and the potential of an asset on the east coast, Goh confirmed, “We’re looking at Sydney.” She said the NSW capital has been on the luxury hospitality company’s radar for some time.

“It’s always been the vision of COMO’s Founder, Christina Ong, to be in key gateway locations,” Goh said during her whirlwind visit. Pressed for a potential timeline for a Sydney debut of either 12 or 24 months, she flagged the latter duration.

Goh was tight-lipped on specific sites in Sydney, or if COMO had its eye on a take-over, restoration project or potential new build, or even a site inspection while she was in the country.

She did however state that Ong, is “very hands-on when it comes to food, wellness and aesthetics” at the brand’s hotels, and any new choice of property would be “personally curated by herself along with her choice of designers.” Paola Navone of OTTO studio is one interior designer Ong has used on existing COMO projects, including COMO Castello del Nero in Tuscany, Italy; COMO Point Yamu in Phuket, Thailand; and her latest work at COMO Le Montrachet in Burgundy, France. 

The name COMO itself is an acronym of the Founder’s initials and that of her daughter, Melissa Ong.

Growth and expansion

Announced in late 2021, COMO Le Montrachet will officially debut in June 2023 after a soft opening next month. The property, which dates back to 1842, is centered around a famous restaurant and an inn and will feature 30 rooms and suites. Nestled around the village square of Puligny-Montrachet (a village in the renowned wine region of Burgundy), the COMO Le Montrachet is spread across four heritage buildings that have been converted into chic sanctuaries. A COMO Shambhala Retreat is planned for the property in the future.

Also in June, Podere San Filippo will debut near the 740-acre COMO Castello Del Nero’s estate. The historic farmhouse has been converted into a modern family residence with 12 large and contemporary apartments – a mix of one- to three-bedrooms, some of which offer outdoor patios.

From 1 September 2023, COMO Hotels & Resorts will also “come home” to Singapore when COMO Metropolitan Singapore opens. Thirty years since the brand was last in the Lion City, the 150-room and suite property will feature Michelin Star restaurants, retail and fashion brands and a COMO Shambhala wellness facility. “At COMO Metropolitan Singapore, we are able to implement the entire ‘COMO Lifestyle’ – food and beverage, wellness, retail. It’ll be the first time we can bring it all together in one location,” she commented.

Additionally, COMO is set to welcome a second property in Italy in the northern alps – complementing its Tuscan retreat – and building on the brand’s existing presence in the Dolomites where it operates the COMO Shambhala Spa. Set within the five-star Alpina Dolomites Lodge for the past year, the ski resort will reposition as COMO Alpina Dolomites from December 2023. Not just a winter playground, Goh said the 30-room and suite Italian mountain resort is just as popular during summer months when the property commands higher rates than winter. It also has a very strong repeat business of 50%. Alpina Dolomites is currently a member of Leading Hotels of the World. It will close for enhancements to bring it in line with COMO standards. Goh did emphaise that the upgrade will “ensure that we do not take away the nuances that guests are familiar with and love.”

Further, Goh said the loyalty program of COMO Hotels & Resorts, COMOCLUB, is nearing the 1 million member mark. Now in it’s 29th year, COMOCLUB has over 800,000 members and has a “very engaged audience”, she said.

Gabi Vincent, Director of Sales and Marketing for COMO The Treasury said the Perth address is focused on immersive experiences guests can engulf themselves in while on-site within the heritage building. Home to six restaurants, four bars and ten retailers, COMO The Treasury offers a number of activations and curated experiences annually, such as Artists in Residence and ‘COMO Conversations’, alongside spring and festive campaigns to name a few.

To encourage more east-coasters to travel to the west for short breaks, COMO The Treasury partners with Ampersand Estates in Pemberton to coordinate five-night curated itineraries (two nights in Perth, three nights in the Margaret River region), to showcase the city and rural destinations.

Vincent also revealed that Singapore is driving the return of international visitors to the property, and that events at COMO have now kicked into another gear after the COVID drought.

More on COMO Hotels & Resorts at ...

Marriott Bonvoy had a unique feature that allowed members to make an unlimited number of award reservations that were not backed up points in the accounts. Instead, you needed to have them 14 days before the intended stay. Under Bonvoy, the Points Advance has been devalued several times; the number of active award reservations without backed points was reduced to three, you needed to have the points within 60 days of making such a reservation or 14 days before the stay, and these reservations no longer locked in the points rates. 

Now, Marriott Bonvoy is ending them altogether on March 28, 2023, citing low demand as a reason.  
You can access Marriott Bonvoy here.  

Important points to note:

  • Rest assured, Reservations booked using Points Advance prior to March 28, 2023 will be honored.
  • Remember, you must have the Points in your Account 60 days from the time of booking, or 14 days prior to arrival, whichever comes first. A Member may only have three (3) Points Advance Reservations at one time.

What happens if I need to modify or cancel my Points Advance Reservation between now and March 28, 2023?    
Prior to March 28, 2023, you may cancel or modify your Points Advance Reservations (e.g. change the dates or location, if available). You can modify or cancel your Points Advance Reservation in your Account profile on or the Marriott Bonvoy® Mobile App.

What happens if I need to modify or cancel my Points Advance reservation after March 28, 2023?    
Cancellation of the Points Advance Reservation is allowed, but always subject to the cancellation policy tied to the Reservation. If you are modifying the Reservation dates after March 28, 2023, it cannot rebooked as a Points Advance Reservation, only as a paid Stay.


Many Marriott Rewards members loved this program feature, because you could lock in the points reservations year in advance while planning your trips and firm them up or cancel closer to the intended stay while earning the required points.

Some members abused the feature, locking out other members from booking unti the last minute then cancelling unwanted trips. This led to changes limiting the number of active Points Advance reservations you can have at any one time.  The death knell though was more likely the move to dynamic pricing.  Reserving a room without knowing how many points you will need to redeem until using the booking was always going to lead to low demand among program members. All it did was signal demand to Marriott which would encourage a rise in rates (without the benfit of having locked in your own rate - better to delay the booking until certain.

I'm not surprised to see this option canned by Marriott. Far more useful is the cash + points feature which remains available - read more in our Guide to Marriott Bonvoy.

Qantas unlocks thousands of seats to book with Frequent Flyer points

Qantas unlocks thousands of seats to book with Frequent Flyer points

Following the recently announced "million seat sale", Qantas is now releasing a huge amount of Classic Rewards space.

Qantas award availability has been notoriously hard to find, but Qantas is working on changing that perception. The Australian airline has announced the release of thousands of Classic Flight Reward seats starting Friday, February 24, 2023, at 11:00 am. Sydney time and and will include space in economy, business, and first class.

The release timing translates to:

  • London 12:00 (midnight) Friday, February 24, 2023 — as Sydney is 11 hours ahead of GMT.
  • New York: Thursday, February 23, 2023, at 7:00 pm — as Sydney is 16 hours ahead of NYC.
  • Los Angeles: Thursday, February 23, 2023, at 4:00 pm — as Sydney is 19 hours ahead of LA.

According to the Qantas press release, the award availability will be across its entire international network featuring over 30 destinations. Also, Qantas is including all cabin classes in this award drop — including Classic Flight Rewards dropping in economy, business class, and first class.

Using Your Qantas Points

A quick glance at the Qantas Classic Flight Reward Chart makes it clear that longer awards in premium cabins are a little on the steep side. However, they are still a much better deal than the other, more expensive awards. Qantas prices its awards based on distance and which airline you are flying. 


Qantas Classic Rewards are the best way for Qantas members to maximize the value of their points. So, this is a great opportunity if you have some upcoming travel plans involving taking a Qantas flight. Remember that although Qantas is releasing all this award space, it is unclear if any of it will be making its way to Qantas’ Oneworld partners. So, if you see an award itinerary that works for you, you should strike while the iron is hot and have Qantas points at the you can quickly snap it up.

Qantas and Jetstar - New One Million (!) Seat Sale

Qantas and Jetstar - New One Million (!) Seat Sale

Qantas and Jetstar have launched a one million seat sale with one-way fares available from A$39 on Jetstar and A$99 on Qantas.

Business class fares are available from A$499 on Qantas.

Between Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar, the sales span more than 170 routes around Australia including capital cities and regional towns. Jetstar is also offering sale fares on more than 20 international routes, with fares starting from A$175 one-way.

“We’re seeing really strong demand as Australians continue to put travel at the top of their shopping list. We’ve been adding new routes to help meet that demand, especially to leisure destinations, and we’ve put a lot of sales into the market,” said Mr Joyce when launching this sale.

“This is the ninth network-wide sale from Qantas and Jetstar in the past six months and we have more planned,” added Mr Joyce.

This week, Qantas added tens of thousands of additional international reward seats – flights that can be booked for as few as 8,000 Qantas points – for its Frequent Flyers through December 31, 2023.

The airlines are encouraging customers with COVID credits – travel credit left over from the pandemic – to use them in booking their sale fares. COVID credits received during the pandemic expire at the end of 2023, with customers needing to book and travel before then. A dedicated hotline has been established to assist customers using their travel credit. Customers can call the Travel Credit Concierge Team on 1300 171 505 or visit the Travel Credits Hub online.

Virgin Atlantic is part of SkyTeam effective 2 March 2023

Virgin Atlantic is part of SkyTeam effective 2 March 2023

Virgin Atlantic announced at a press conference in London on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, that the airline would join the SkyTeam airline alliance. 

Now we have a bit more concrete timing. From March 2, 2023, London-based carrier Virgin Atlantic (VS) will become SkyTeam’s only U.K.-based airline. This is huge news for both U.K. and U.S. travelers, as routes between the 2 countries are the bulk of Virgin’s route network. Specifically, VS operates nonstop routes to the U.K. from Austin (AUS), Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Tampa (TPA), and Washington, D.C. (IAD).

As Virgin already has close ties with key airline members of SkyTeam such as Air France/KLM and Delta Air Lines, joining SkyTeam is a natural progression.

What We Know So Far About Virgin Atlantic Joining SkyTeam

Here is what we know so far:
  • Virgin Atlantic will be admitted as a member from 2 March, 2023.
  • Flying Club members will be able to earn and burn points with all alliance members. However, no rates have been announced.
In terms of elite status levels:
  • Virgin Atlantic Silver will equate to SkyTeam Elite status.
  • Virgin Atlantic Gold will get SkyTeam Elite Plus perks.

Elite members will receive the usual raft of benefits associated with status. These include priority check-in, baggage handling, lounge access, and more.

For more info see Virgin Atlantic FAQ on joining SkyTeam and SkyTeam's Statement on Virgin Atlantic becoming an alliance member.

Reciprocal Benefits
When Virgin Atlantic joins the alliance, frequent flyers will be able to spend and redeem their miles with up to an additional 15 airlines.

Perhaps even more exciting is that once Virgin joins the alliance, Flying Club elite status holders will receive SkyTeam Elite status, opening up reciprocal benefits with the other SkyTeam member airlines — and vice versa.

Virgin Silver members will receive SkyTeam Elite benefits, which include:

  • Priority reservation wait list
  • Preferred seating
  • Priority check-in counters
  • Priority or “at leisure” boarding
  • Extra baggage allowance

However, it’s Virgin Gold members who will benefit from the full perks of the SkyTeam alliance. They’ll receive automatic Elite Plus benefits, which include:
  • Guaranteed full-fare economy class (Y class) bookings on sold-out long-haul flights at least 24 hours before departure
  • Worldwide access to lounges for the traveller and a guest, no matter the class of travel
  • Priority baggage
  • Extra baggage allowance.

Who may benefit the most?

Virgin will soon be joining Aerolineas Argentinas, AeroMexico, Air Europa, Air France, China Airlines, China Eastern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, ITA Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines as part of the SkyTeam Alliance.

This development is most exciting for Virgin frequent flyers with Silver or Gold status who, until March 2, 2023, only have had some of the benefits of their status reciprocated with Air France/KLM and Delta.

For those travelers who already have SkyTeam status through another carrier, they will also benefit from the benefits of Virgin’s Flying Club. However, it's currently rumored that elites from other SkyTeam airlines won’t get access Virgin’s exclusive London Heathrow Clubhouse.

Potential Downsides - Will Sweet Spots Be Eliminated?

While it is great news for Virgin to join SkyTeam. Some Flying Club members will be concerned about what will happen to some of the best Flying Club redemption sweet spots. Currently, you can use your Virgin points for many excellent awards, including:
  1. ANA first class from Japan to Europe or Central/Eastern US for 60,000 Virgin points each way plus taxes and fees.
  2. Air New Zealand business class awards from New Zealand to either North or South America for 125,000 Virgin points round-trip plus taxes and fees.
Unfortunately, both Air New Zealand and ANA are members of Star Alliance. This puts them in direct competition with many of Virgin Atlantic’s new (SkyTeam) alliance partners. Will these great deals remain, or is the time up for these excellent redemption options? Only time will tell.

We can only hope that Virgin Atlantic joining SkyTeam leads to new excellent redemption opportunities within the alliance.

Capella Sydney Opening Date Confirmed - book while you still can!

Capella Sydney Opening Date Confirmed - book while you still can!

Further to our post of 30 October 2022, Capella Sydney, the first Australian property in the Capella Hotels and Resorts portfolio, is now accepting reservations for arrivals beginning 15 March 2023.

It is the newest 5-star hotel in the Sydney CBD and includes 192 guestrooms (such as the one pictured) and suites, anchored by three ground-level food and beverage outlets: Aperture, Brasserie 1930 and McRae Bar.  . 

For travellers unfamiliar with this luxury brand, “The Capella brand is synonymous with luxury, excellence in the craft of hospitality and cultural immersion. Capella Sydney takes this to the next level through unparalleled experiences that go above and beyond the expected, underscored by world-class accommodation and dining,” said Marc von Arnim, Capella Sydney’s General Manager.

The beautifully appointed guestrooms and suites are replete with deluxe textiles, standalone tubs, custom Italian Frette linen and exclusive Haeckels amenities. Guestrooms at Capella Sydney offer an abundance of space, volume and natural light. Starting at 46 square metres, each room features curated artwork, sumptuous furnishings and intriguing objet d’art complete with luxurious pillow-top beds fitted with custom Italian Frette linen and exclusive Haeckel’s amenities

The  guestrooms start from AU$530 per night (Superior rooms - 46 square metres), while the uppermost jewel, the 235-square-metre Capella Suite on the ninth floor, boasts the largest offering in the portfolio, starting from AU$6,430 per night.  

To make a booking for this gorgeous new property in the heart of Sydney, contact our associated Travel Advisor, Neil McPherson at Rewarding Travel, and ask what perks he may be able to add to make your stay even more special.

Bonvoy Members to Earn Less For Africa Stays

Bonvoy Members to Earn Less For Africa Stays

Marriott recently announced some bad news to Bonvoy members planning to stay in Africa.

As of March 1, 2023, Marriott Bonvoy members will only earn 5X points at Protea Hotels (joining the other brands of Homes & Villas, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Element) and 1 Elite Night Credit for every 2 nights stayed. Here are the details of this change. 

Protea Hotels by Marriott

Marriott acquired Protea Hotels in 2013. As of 2023, Protea operates 64 properties spread across 9 countries in Africa — primarily South Africa, but also in  Algeria, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Marriott advertises Protea Hotels as mid-range, 4 to 5-star properties. 

Marriott's Reduction of the Earning Rate of Protea Hotels 

Until now, Marriott Bonvoy members earned the usual 10 points per dollar spent and 1 Elite Night Credit per night at Protea Hotels. As of March 1, 2023, those earnings will be cut in half.

Bonvoy members will only earn 5 points per dollar spent. Elite Night Credits will only be given for every two nights stayed. In other words, half an Elite Night Credit per night.

These changes go into effect on March 1, 2023. The change will be based on the checkout date, not on the booking date. In other words, every stay with a checkout date on or after March 1 will receive half rewards — regardless of when you booked

This certainly isn't good news for Marriott Bonvoy members looking to stay at Protea properties in Africa after March 1, 2023.  

Hopefully t his is not the beginning of a devaluation for Marriott Bonvoy points across several brands (again).

200 Meliá Hotels Receive 2023 Traveller Review Awards

200 Meliá Hotels Receive 2023 Traveller Review Awards

Meliá Hotels International has had another successful year in the Traveller Review Awards.

More than 200 of the company’s hotels have been rewarded this year for their exceptional performance and for having achieved a satisfaction rating above 8 in the reviews made by thousands of customers on The award winners include hotels from all over the world and from all of the different company brands.

Among the more than 200 hotels, some of the company’s most luxurious properties achieved the highest scores, along with some of the most outstanding of the recently opened hotels: ME Barcelona, a new icon for luxury hotels in one of the most popular cities in Spain, and Villa Le Blanc, a Gran Meliá Hotel, which has revolutionised the luxury resort segment in Menorca by becoming the first carbon-neutral hotel in the destination.

Other luxury hotels operated by the company performed well, including the Meliá Serengeti Lodge, Member of Meliá Collection (Tanzania), located in one of the most stunning natural environments in the world and with an approach to sustainability which has helped it earn the highest score among all the company’s hotels.

Other strong performers include the Gran Meliá Iguazu (Argentina), which offers a luxurious experience with views of one of the most famous waterfalls in the world, and the Gran Meliá Xi’an, one of the luxury hotels the company operates in China.

The Meliá Hotels & Resorts brand achieved high scores with both its city and resort hotels in Asia: Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort (Vietnam), Meliá Vinpearl Hue (Vietnam) and Meliá Chiang Mai (Thailand).

Among other hotels operated under other brands that have achieved outstanding scores are: INNSIDE Liverpool (UK) and INNSIDE Lima Miraflores (Peru), Paradisus Los Cabos and Paradisus Playa del Carmen (Mexico), Sol Beach House Ibiza (Spain) and Sol Oasis Marrakech (Morocco).

If you would like to stay at an award-winning hotels mentioned above, you can discuss with pur associated Travel Advisors booking with one of the brands of Meliá.. Meliá have properties in Asia, Europe and the Americas. They also have a loyalty program -  learn more about how it may benefit you in our comprehensive Guide to Meliá Rewards.

Using Travel Points

Preparing to maximise your use of travel loyalty points to see the places you most want to visit.

We show you how to extract the greatest value for your travel using both cash and rewards points.  


Fly Virgin Australia Best offers from Virgin Australia - book now!

Don't forget to also check the Virgin Australia Happy Hour - discounted fares offered between 4pm and 11 pm (AEST) each Thursday.

Scotland Vacations

Eileen Donan castle

Dreaming of picturesque, pristine countryside, romantic castles steeped in history, or the culture and energy of vibrant cities?
Scotland has all this and much more.
Come see what makes Scotland such a unique and popular destination for so many travellers.
We show you the best that Scotland has to offer, from specific destinations to theme-based tours.



Top Tips For Travellers' Health

Travel can be stressful !  IDeas to keep your travels happy and healthy.

There’s an ever-expanding body of scientific evidence that (whether behind a desk at work or during a long plane trip or train ride), being seated for prolonged periods can be harmful.  We provide tips to boost your health and reduce the harmful impact on your body while travelling.