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  • Romantic Old Bank Hotel invites couples

    first_imgSource = Old Bank Boutique Hotel Romantic Old Bank Hotel invites couplesRomantic Old Bank Hotel invites couples to invest in their relationship during ‘Valentine’s Month’ February 2017The Southern Highland’s newest, deluxe accommodation, the Old Bank Boutique Hotel in Mittagong, is inviting couples to invest in their relationship with a new, two-night Romance Package available throughout ‘Valentine’s Month’, February.Cupids can bank on a luxurious and romantic stay, with the new package available not only on Valentine’s Day, February 14, but anytime during February.And leading the way are the Old Bank Hotel’s giant, love-struck teddy bears, Matilda and Albert, who can be found ensconced in the hotel’s library close to the port and sometimes on the outdoor terrace for tea!* February’s two-night Romance Package includes a bottle of sparkling wine on arrival, heart-shaped and home-made shortbread biscuits in the room, a luscious, two-course, seasonal breakfast, afternoon tea each day and deluxe accommodation in the majestic, former bank, which was built in 1892. The deal is available from $590 per couple midweek or from $690 on weekends (subject to availability).Overnight guests can also indulge in romantic, two-course dinners with wine in the Old Bank Hotel’s intimate, candlelit dining room from $55 per guest.Extra passion can be elicited from the Old Bank Hotel’s new cream teas for daytime or overnight guests, with unlimited, fluffy scones served with lashings of clotted cream, accompanied by strawberry and vanilla bean jam sourced from the owners’ local farm. The cream teas are available for $18.50 per person while new, light lunches – also available for both daytime and overnight guests – are available from $27.50 a person. Advance bookings are requested for lunches and cream teas.Diners can feast in the cosy dining room or on the rose-scented terrace by the fountain. Local wines are also available from the bank’s former vault, which is now the hotel’s wine cellar. The Old Bank Hotel is also ideal for proposals, weddings, vow renewals and anniversaries, with the hotel already gaining a name for its warm and personal service, with staff eager to help with any special request.Romantic Old Bank HotelNestled in the heart of historic Mittagong, the stately, 124-year-old building is one of the most beautiful buildings in the Highlands. The property operated as a bank and manager’s residence for many years until falling into disrepair in the 1970s. Locals Warwick and Barbara Wainberg purchased the property in 2009 and embarked on a painstaking, seven-year project to restore it to its former glory.The deluxe hotel boasts rich furnishings, lofty ceilings, a grand, cedar staircase, hand-carved wood panelling, individually designed rugs, polished floorboards, leather Chesterfields in the plush lounge and library, open fires, Egyptian cotton sheets and marble and granite bathrooms. The property is situated close to the Southern Highlands’ well-known antique shops, boutiques, bookshops, cafes and gardens.Contact The Old Bank Boutique Hotel in Mittagong (83 Main St) on 02 4872 4496 or visit www.oldbankhotel.com.au last_img read more

  • Quest Epping opens to capitalise on increased business diversity

    first_imgQuest EppingQuest Epping opens to capitalise on increased business diversityDoors have opened at Quest Epping at the corner of Cooper and, Miller Street, increasing the brand’s Melbourne offering by 96 rooms. Quest Epping will be the 44th Quest property in Victoria and the second Quest property to open in Melbourne within the last month, following the June opening of Quest Maribyrnong.Quest Epping is strategically located to capitalise on the increased business diversity of Melbourne’s North. The region is in a period of transformation, with Epping Central becoming a dynamic new centre for jobs, housing, business and recreation. The property benefits from close proximity to a number of major business hubs, including Epping Plaza, Northern Hospital, Melbourne Polytechnic and the Cooper’s Street Employment District.Quest Apartment Hotels General Manager – Growth, James Shields expressed his confidence in the group’s decision to open its latest property in this burgeoning region. “The City of Whittlesea is one of the fastest growing council areas in Melbourne, with a predicted population increase of 175,000 people over the next 25 years. This activity will create a wave of ongoing construction and fuel a significant growth in population supporting industries,” said Mr Shields.“Local business is thriving in Whittlesea. Of the 13,645 businesses located in area, 23 per cent of them are within construction, which is a clear indicator of continued growth.”  Quest Epping franchisees Jennifer Wilson, Daniel Wilson, Ky OShea and Mark OShea, expressed their confidence in being part of such a prestigious organisation.“Our location is unrivalled, servicing the growing population of the outer northern suburbs. The property is adjacent to the Pacific Epping retail and dining precinct, which features 1,300 square metres of new restaurants,” said Ms Wilson.“We are thrilled to have created and filled a range of full-time, part-time and casual jobs, and have great confidence in the newly appointed Quest Epping team. We are delighted to be opening doors today and look forward to welcoming our first guests.”Quest Epping features 96 apartments, including studio, one, two and three bedroom configurations. The development also includes on-site parking, a conference room and gym.The broad pipeline of 14 new property openings over the next 18 months across Australia, New Zealand and the UK, shows substantial growth for Quest. In addition to Epping, this includes properties in St Kilda Road, Notting Hill, Burwood East and NewQuay (VIC); Canberra City Walk (ACT); South Perth foreshore (WA); Penrith and Orange (NSW); Quest on Manchester, Quest Tauranga Central, Quest on Tuam and Quest Mount Eden (NZ) and Liverpool (UK).For more information visit www.questepping.com.au Source = Quest Apartment Hotelslast_img read more

  • Helloworld Travel New Zealand expansion

    first_imgNZ branded Milford AuklandHelloworld Travel New Zealand expansionHelloworld Travel Limited (ASX: HLO) today announced that a number of mid to large sized corporate agencies have joined, or committed to join, its New Zealand retail network, following on from the break-up of the First Travel Group.Gilpin Travel, Barlow Travel and Atlas Corporate with a combined annual Total Transaction Value (TTV) of Z$130m have all now joined the HLO NZ network. The NZ Travel Brokers (annual TTV circa NZ$125m) together with a number of other significant agencies, with a combined annual TTV of a further NZ$46m, have entered into agreements to join from June 2019.As announced last week, Helloworld Travel Limited has also purchased outright the business of sports and event travel specialist, Williment Travel.The total combined annualised TTV coming from this expansion, under the HLO NZ networks, is approximately NZ$300m, representing over 65% of the former First Travel Group’s TTV.Discussions are continuing with several other former First Travel Group members. With the addition of these new members to HLO’s New Zealand networks, HLO now has a total of 580 agency members in New Zealand including 280 travel brokers.Andrew Burnes, Helloworld Travel CEO and Managing Director said “The New Zealand acquisitions and network expansion has given our NZ business the size and resulting economies of scale to assist the Group to achieve our targeted EBITDA to Revenue of 25% in FY20. The team in New Zealand has done an outstanding job of building a strong value proposition which in turn has attracted these new agencies to our networks.”About Helloworld Travel Limited• Helloworld Travel Limited (ASX: HLO) is a leading Australian and New Zealand travel distribution company, comprising retail travel networks, DMC / Inbound operations, air ticket consolidation, wholesale travel services, corporate travel management services and online operations.• HLO has over 2100 staff located in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the USA, Asia, India and UK/Europe and over 2350 members of its travel agency networks in Australia and New Zealand.• Helloworld Travel is the proud naming rights partner of Volleyball Australia and the Helloworld Travel Volleyroos men’s and women’s national teams.Source = Helloworld Travel Limitedlast_img read more

  • Sands China Celebrates 10 Years of Extraordinary of The Venetian Macao resort

    first_imgSands China Ltd. celebrated the 10th anniversary of The Venetian® Macao Monday, highlighted by a ceremony at the outdoor lagoon of the iconic integrated resort.The company’s anchor property on the Cotai Strip quickly became a must-see landmark destination that redefined the Cotai skyline, where it still draws millions of visitors from around the world 10 years later.With a vision to establish a world-class business, leisure and family destination on the Cotai Strip, Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Sands China Ltd. Sheldon G. Adelson brought his successful integrated resort model to Macao with the launch of The Venetian Macao.Ten years on, The Venetian Macao has been joined by three interconnected sister resorts – The Plaza™ Macao, Sands® Cotai Central, and The Parisian Macao – forming an integrated resort city on Cotai attracting nearly half a billion visitors over the last 10 years.With The Venetian Macao leading the way, Sands China continues its long-held strategy of offering a diversified mix of attractions and services to its visitors and to develop Macao into a world centre of tourism and leisure while diversifying the city’s tourism economy.“This property has a very special place in my heart,” said Adelson. “It was my wife, Miriam, who first had the inspiration to recreate Venice in Las Vegas, and opening The Venetian Macao in 2007 marked the beginning of my vision for the Cotai Strip. I’m extremely grateful to every person who helped bring this reality to life and I’m humbled by the dedication and support we’re still receiving 10 years later.”Dr Wilfred Wong, president of Sands China Ltd., said: “Sands China is so grateful to the Macao government, to the local community, and to our team members as we commemorate this important milestone for The Venetian Macao, for our company, and for Macao. It is our honour and pleasure to serve and operate in this vibrant community, and it is our hope to continue to grow with Macao and work in tandem with the Macao government to further support Macao’s transformation into a world centre of tourism and leisure.”last_img read more

  • Slowing Workouts Burn Off CMBS Special Servicer Volume

    first_img August 31, 2012 444 Views in Data, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Slowing Workouts Burn Off CMBS Special Servicer Volume Agents & Brokers CMBS Fitch Ratings Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-08-31 Tory Barringercenter_img The slowing pace of workouts hasn’t stopped CMBS special servicer volume from falling, “”Fitch Ratings””:http://www.fitchratings.com/web/en/dynamic/fitch-home.jsp reported.[IMAGE]According to Fitch’s weekly U.S. CMBS Market Trends newsletter, the balance of loans in special servicing as of June 30 was $80.5 billion, a drop from $83.1 billion at the end of 2011 and $85.6 billion in June 2011.[COLUMN_BREAK]This news comes despite a slowdown in resolutions in the year’s first half, with 1,242 loans resolved in that time (compared to 1,556 in the first half of 2011).The most active special servicers have been working out more than 9,600 loans since 2010 (when volume reached $90 billion), totaling $141.6 billion in volume.Of the most active special servicers, LNR Partners, Inc., CIII Asset Management, and CW Capital Asset Management dominated the market in both volume and number of specially serviced loans. All have resolved more than half of their loans in special serving since 2010.Midland Loan Services, Inc., and Berkadia Commercial Mortgage, LLC also made strong showings in volume and number of loans resolved.Fitch also reported that time in special servicing for resolved loans is increasing. For loans resolved in the first half of 2012, the average number of months in servicing was 18.2, double the average in 2009. Sharelast_img read more

  • Fannie Mae Posts 101B Quarterly Profit

    first_imgFannie Mae Posts $10.1B Quarterly Profit in Secondary Market August 8, 2013 425 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Fannie Mae Investors Lenders & Servicers Profits Quarterly Earnings Service Providers 2013-08-08 Tory Barringercenter_img “”Fannie Mae’s””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html second-quarter profits nearly doubled year-over-year, the GSE reported.[IMAGE]The company reported Thursday net income of $10.1 billion in Q2 2013 compared to $5.1 billion for Q2 2012. It was the sixth consecutive quarter of profit for Fannie Mae.Comprehensive income totaled $10.3 billion, again nearly double that of the same quarter last year ($5.4 billion).According to the enterprise’s earnings report, the second-quarter’s strong numbers were “”driven primarily by continued stable revenues and boosted by a significant increase in home prices in the quarter, which resulted in a reduction in the company’s loss reserves.””The yearly improvement was also helped primarily by gains on the company’s assets recorded at fair value (due to increases in interest rates) and an increase in credit-related income.As of June 30, Fannie Mae’s net worth was reported at $13.2 billion–$10.2 billion of which will go to Treasury as dividends, bringing aggregate dividends payments to approximately $105 billion. Under the terms of the GSEs’ bailout, each must maintain a reserve of $3.0 billion, with any amount over that threshold going to the government. Fannie Mae’s report came one day after Freddie Mac released “”its own earnings””:https://themreport.com/articles/freddie-mac-reports-5b-profit-in-q2-2013-08-07, revealing a profit of $5.0 billion–the second largest in its history. Sharelast_img read more

  • LRES Brings PennyMac On as New Valuation Services Client

    first_img December 3, 2013 405 Views “”LRES””:http://www.lres.com/, a national provider of commercial and residential valuations and asset management, announced it is now serving the retail lending division of California-based “”PennyMac Financial Services””:http://www.pennymacusa.com/.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]As part of its services for PennyMac, LRES is managing appraisals that comply with all USPAP requirements as well as all state and federal appraiser independence regulations for the company’s customers.””We look forward to nurturing a long-term partnership with PennyMac and providing quality service and customizable valuation solutions for its customers,”” said LRES CEO Roger Beane.LRES’ automated selection process assigns the most experienced local appraiser for PennyMac for each appraisal in every market. LRES’ staff then reviews the appraisal, ensuring it meets underwriter readiness and fits all regulatory requirements, including those set by PennyMac and HUD. “”We developed our relationship with LRES because the company has a solid reputation throughout the industry for cost effectively managing its network of appraisers, which delivers quality appraisals quickly, with a strong focus on compliance,”” said Paul Atkinson, first VP of PennyMac. Share LRES Brings PennyMac On as New Valuation Services Clientcenter_img Agents & Brokers Appraisals Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2013-12-03 Tory Barringer in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicinglast_img read more

  • Builder Study Shows Signs of Stabilizing Affordability

    first_img February 24, 2014 495 Views Homebuilders Housing Affordability National Association of Home Builders 2014-02-24 Tory Barringer in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released recently its fourth-quarter Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), one in a string of recent analyses examining housing costs.While most other reports have indicated a decline in Americans’ ability to pay for homes at the national median price ($205,000 as of Q4), NAHB’s latest index actually shows relative stability, with 64.7 percent of new and existing homes sold in Q4 classified as “affordable” to families earning the median income of $64,400.That result is a slight step up from the index reading of 64.5 percent recorded in Q3.“Housing affordability is stabilizing at a time when pent-up demand and ongoing job growth are helping housing markets across the nation to gradually strengthen,” said NAHB chairman Kevin Kelly.While strengthening affordability is a positive sign, Kelly notes builders continue to face a number of challenges, “including tight credit for home buyers, inaccurate appraisals, and a shortage of workers and buildable lots.”Among major markets, the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area in Ohio/Pennsylvania claimed the title of most affordable market, with 89.4 percent of homes sold last quarter fitting into the areas’ median household income of $53,900.At the bottom (for the fifth consecutive quarter) sat California’s San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City metro area, where just 14.1 percent of home sold were affordable to families earning the median income of $101,200.In the range of smaller markets, Kokomo, Indiana, was ranked most affordable, with 96.3 percent of homes sold in Q4 being affordable to those earning the median income of $60,100.As with major markets, California ranked lowest in affordability. At the bottom was the Santa Cruz-Watsonville metro, where 18.6 percent of new and existing homes sold were affordable for the median income of $73,800. It was joined by Salina, San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Napa, and Santa Rosa-Petaluma—all located in the Golden State.center_img Builder Study Shows Signs of Stabilizing Affordability Sharelast_img read more

  • FHFA Stress Tests Reveal How Low House Prices Can Go

    first_imgFHFA: Stress Tests Reveal How Low House Prices Can Go The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently released a new working paper titled, “How Low Can House Prices Go? Estimating a Conservative Lower Bound,” identifying a conservative lower bound for home prices in relation to long-term trend. Contributors to the paper included Alexander Bogin, senior economist for FHFA, Stephen Bruestle, lecturer at Penn State Erie, and William Doerner, senior economist for FHFA.Both credit risk and capital are associated with mortgage assets and are usually calculated using a stress test, the authors note.  Factors that should be considered when determining the severity of credit-related losses include: how far house prices are above long-term trend and how far they are below trend. The paper describes how to determine how far homes are falling below trend.“Leveraging a model based upon consumer and investor incentives, we are able to explain the depth of housing market downturns at both the national and state level over a variety of market environments,” the authors said. “In brief, as house prices fall below trend, housing becomes an increasingly attractive investment—it’s empirically documented, mean-reverting nature may engender higher expected returns.”According to the working paper, when home prices are on a steady decline, this is an incentive that attracts investors and consumers to the market which causes a huge mass of demand that causes home prices to rebound. The same approach held true for an in-sample back-test using data from 1987 to 2001, where the authors found that their estimation approach does not understate any state-level house price declines. Their estimation approach only understates severity in three states in an out-of-sample back test using data from the most recent financial crisis.“This estimation technique could prove particularly helpful in measuring the credit risk associated with portfolios of mortgage assets as part of evaluating static stress tests or designing dynamic stress tests,” the authors said.An important determinant of how severe the stress test results will be is the price path the house is on, and this can either be static or dynamic in nature, the paper reveals. A static path means there is a fixed decline in home prices that is usually based on historical experience. A fixed decline can mean different levels of effective stress when applied at different points in the housing cycle or the depth of the house price shock relative to long-term trend. This results in an inadequate level of stress where house prices are above their long-term trend, but an improbable amount of stress when the market is downs and home prices are at or under their long-term trend.On the other hand, the paper says that fixed house price shocks have caused stress situations that are unlikely by any historical standard based on the recent crisis but applied during recovery (2012-present). Unlike a fixed house price shock, a dynamic path responds to the current market conditions and provides a precise estimate of the severity of the future of house price downfalls. This is an important part of dynamic stress testing and is used to assess how accurate the static stress test is.“Since the recent financial crisis, there has been an increasing focus on improving stress testing and thus far, the stressed housing paths have been largely static in nature, essentially ignoring current market conditions.” the authors conclude. “This area of work is particularly important for evaluating the reasonableness of static stress tests or developing dynamic stress tests that could help prepare financial institutions for low probability but high impact events such as the recent financial crisis.” Share May 14, 2015 550 Views center_img in Daily Dose, Data, Government, Headlines, News, Origination Conservative Lower Bound Federal Housing Finance Agency Home Prices 2015-05-14 Staff Writerlast_img read more

  • FinTechs are Testing Banks Strategic Risk

    first_img Share in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Technology FinTechs are Testing Banks’ Strategic Risk November 18, 2016 689 Views center_img Speaking to a group of community bankers at the Chicago Fed on Friday, U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry said that mitigating strategic risk should be at front of mind for all banking executives and boards heading into the new year—and one issue that is testing banks’ strategic risk today is the shift taking place with innovation and financial technology in the industry.Curry noted that community banks are the “heart and soul of banking across our nation” and that “our nation and economy are stronger when community banks are a healthy, vibrant part of our financial services industry.”The OCC has defined strategic risk as “the risk to current or anticipated earnings, capital, or franchise value arising from adverse business decisions, improper implementation of decisions, or lack of responsiveness to industry changes”—which for community bankers, Curry said, means they need to have the right plan to meet their business goals in their own respective markets.“Strategic planning helps a community bank position its business, identify its best opportunities, and make hard choices about the unknown and uncontrollable,” Curry said. “The future is always uncertain, but strategic planning provides a context for making decisions.”The phenomenal growth of financial technology companies, or FinTechs, in the last few years is testing banks’ strategic risk, Curry said. FinTechs numbered approximately 4,000 between the United States and U.K. at the end of 2015. These companies provide financial products and services through a variety of alternative platforms and delivery channels, and a major factor driving the growth of FinTechs is the 85 million millennials entering the market who are willing to seek alternative platforms to meet their financial needs, Curry said.“While FinTech companies are still a small portion of the industry, their rapid growth requires banks and regulators to ask big-picture questions about the future of banking, how consumer needs are being met, and whether we have the necessary regulatory tools and structure to ensure that the changes occur in a safe and sound manner, promote financial inclusion, and avoid consumer abuse,” Curry said.Curry noted that he understands why banks may be hesitant to work with FinTechs or use their products.“By definition, they are new,” he said. “Their technology may not be as familiar or easily understood, and most don’t have long-term track records that could provide a measure of reassurance. Vetting new companies can be costly and daunting, and small banks without specific expertise may have to rely on yet another third party to support their due diligence. Even after entering a partnership, overseeing the vendor can present similar challenges.”The bank’s responsibilities as far as third-party risk management include assuring an outsourcing arrangement that aligns with the bank’s strategic direction, assessing the appropriateness of the fee structure for the services received, implementing the necessary user controls, and monitoring the performance of service providers, Curry said.“Working together to evaluate and monitor third-party service providers can help manage the risk, and some community banks already are finding success with this type of collaboration,” Curry said. “Many community banks that use large technology service providers already belong to user groups that work together to manage the third-party relationship.”Click here to read Curry’s complete speech. Fintechs OCC Strategic Risk 2016-11-18 Seth Welbornlast_img read more

  • Home Sales Waiting for Good News

    first_img Share Contract Signings Home Sales HOUSING Lawrence Yun NAR Pending-Home Sales Regions 2019-01-30 Radhika Ojha January 30, 2019 677 Views Contract signings declined 9.8 percent year-over-year in December marking the twelfth straight month of annual decreases, according to a report on pending home sales by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Pending home sales also saw a month over month decrease of 2.2 percent from November 2018, the report indicated.While many factors were responsible for the decline in contract signings in December, the partial government shutdown was not one of them, according to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR. “Seventy-five percent of Realtors® reported that they haven’t yet felt the impact of the government closure. However, if another government shutdown takes place, it will lead to fewer homes sold,” Yun said. He added that as the government reopens more mortgage options would become available for consumers.Watch this video to see what other factors impacted pending home sales in December:<span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>center_img in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Home Sales: Waiting for Good News?last_img read more

  • Thanks to Las Vegas Tourism the agents also enjoye

    first_imgThanks to Las Vegas Tourism the agents also enjoyed visits to Planet Hollywood, Paris Las Vegas, The Bellagio, Vdara and the Aria hotels, rounding out their Las Vegas leg of the famil before hitting their next destination – California!In California, some of the group tried surf lessons, watched spectacular sunsets and enjoyed VIP shopping experiences, while others opted for the short 30 minute shuttle to Disneyland!.Overall the agents were thrilled with their USA experience, and thanks to Viva! Holidays, Air New Zealand and Las Vegas Tourism, they will have a lasting connection from this trip through the Helloworld Travel family.Attending the famil were: Carolyn Rogers – Helloworld Travel Waurn Ponds, Ainsley Murphy – Helloworld Travel Toowoomba Range, Kathryn King – Helloworld Travel Bateau Bay, Karen Vella – Helloworld Travel Rowville, Stacey Skinner – Helloworld Travel Warrnambool, Scott Sherriff – Temora Travel, Kimberley Hall – Helloworld Travel Belconnen, Lauren Bloch – Helloworld Travel Merimbula, Vito Giudice – Helloworld Travel Ltd, Anthony Moore – Tripaway Cruise & Travel Tweed City, Bart Druitt – Las Vegas Tourism, Stella Hritis – Air New Zealand, Ella Halliwell – Mid Coast Travel & Cruise Air New ZealandEvent & Famil photosHelloworld TravelLas Vegas TourismViva! Holidays Ten lucky Helloworld Travel branded and associate agents recently took off to the USA on a famil thanks to Helloworld Travel, Viva! Holidays, Air New Zealand and Las Vegas Tourism.Kicking off their tour with two nights at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, the agents enjoyed exhilarating experiences in Papillion Helicopters and a hot lap in a Corvette Z06 thanks to Exotics Racing. Moving onto the Wynn Las Vegas hotel, agents attended the famous, but controversial, Spiegelworld show ‘Absinthe’, and wrapped up their stay in true Las Vegas style – attending a mock wedding ceremony at the Graceland Wedding chapel.last_img read more

  • Agents now have until 30 April 2018 to book their

    first_imgAgents now have until 30 April 2018 to book their clients on a 2018 Scenic Tour to receive:Included return flights for 23 Day Treasures of the West Coast (includes taxes up to $190 per person) – a saving of up to $1,350* per couplePartner fly free for bookings on the 12 Day Top End and Kimberley Spectacular, 17 Day South Western Tapestry or 21 Day Territory Explorer and The Kimberley (includes taxes of up to $250 per person) – a saving of up to $900* per coupleEarlybird savings of up to $600* per couple for bookings on the 9 Day Territory Explorer, 13 Day Ultimate Tasmania, 11 Day Taste of South Australia or 8 Day Historic Norfolk IslandFor more information call Scenic on 138 128 or visit scenic.com.auIMAGE:Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory, Australia earlybirdsSceniclast_img

  • The fournight agents famil focused on 2018 Macao

    first_imgThe four-night agents famil focused on 2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy and the Asian centre’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.Waxing lyrical about their Macao experience, Susan Atike, sales manager of Air Tickets, praised the “fabulous food and amazing wine”, while Kirsten Denham, of Helloworld, described Macao as “good fun with many interesting facets to it”.Jacky Hui, of SDC Travel, said the Macao hotels were ‘awesome’, and the food and service were top quality.“I’d strongly recommend Macao to our customers as one of most attractive destinations,” he said on his return.In Macao (L-R) – Jacky Hui (SDC Travel), Carol Sit (Tara International Travel), Lily Ly (VN Holidays), Wendy Lin (Honeyworld Travel), Michael Zhang (Webjet), Susan Atike (Air Tickets), Kim Robertson (Inter Asia), Kate Lawton (House of Travel NZ), Kirsten Denham (Helloworld), Rahul Sharma (Exotic Holidays NZ), Sam Chen (Helen Wong’s Tours) and Craig Hunt (MGTO) agentsfamilMacao Nine Aussie agents, together with two agents from New Zealand, were treated to a recent Macao famil that included attending the 6th Macao International Travel (Industry) Expo, held at the Venetian and locally referred to as MITE.Organised by Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), and co-ordinated by Macau Travel Agency Association, the exhibition attracted 40,120 visitors and 305 industry buyers, culminating in almost 40 signed agreements. The expo highlighted the strengths of Macao as a Sino-Portuguese platform and a major hub along the Maritime Silk Road, as well as its role in facilitating co-operation across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area.last_img read more

  • Kevin Kolb hasnt even been allowed to practice wi

    first_imgKevin Kolb hasn’t even been allowed to practice with the Arizona Cardinals, but that hasn’t stopped national media members from speculating just how well he’ll do with his new team.Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was on with ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd Thursday and shared his thoughts“Kolb will go through some growing pains, some chemistry pains with Larry Fitzgerald but overall he’ll have a B year,” King speculated. “He will allow them to compete for a division title in a bad division.” Top Stories D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ So, he’s saying a bad division will let Kolb have a slightly above average season despite some struggles and let the Cards compete? That’s not exactly going out on a limb. Especially when you consider the quartet of chaos, better known as the Cardinals quarterbacks, in 2010 kept them in contention in a lousy NFC West for a majority of the season (and by contention we mean below .500).In all honesty it’s not fair to judge Kolb at this point. All anyone — King included — knows is what they saw from him in a few games in Philadelphia in an offensive system that is different than the one he’ll be running in Arizona. Once the preseason starts and he’s had a few games with his new team to evaluate him by, maybe then one can speculate as to where he and the Cardinals might wind up by season’s end.Right now Cardinals fans should just be happy they have a quarterback. Everyone else is just playing ‘Monday Morning Quarterback.’ Comments   Share   center_img Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right awaylast_img read more

  • Veteran outside linebacker James Harrison was in t

    first_imgVeteran outside linebacker James Harrison was in the Valley this week, where he met with Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim.Despite mutual interest, the two sides could not consummate a deal as of Friday night.Saturday, the two-time Super Bowl champion made it official that he won’t be joining the Cardinals or any other team in 2014.Posted to his official Facebook account, Harrison announced his retirement from the NFL: Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Top Stories I have made the difficult decision to retire as of today. My love for my family and the need to be there for them outweighs my desire to play the game. I have missed too many experiences with them because I devoted SO much time to my career. My love for the game isn’t strong enough to make up for missing one more birthday or first day of school. I am retiring as a man who is truly grateful for all of his blessings. I am sincerely thankful to the people who have supported me over the years, first and foremost my family, the Rooney family and my Steeler family, also Mr. Brown, the Bengals organization and fans, and last but FAR from least, Steeler Nation. Thank you.The former Kent State standout played parts of 10 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2004-12) and Cincinnati Bengals (2013), recording 66 sacks and 472 tackles.An undrafted free agent back in 2002, Harrison was a five-time Pro Bowler during his career.center_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo 0 Comments   Share   Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

  • Top Stories

    first_img Top Stories Few people understand the NFL Draft like Mel Kiper, Jr. does, so when the ESPN NFL analyst shares his thoughts, it’s probably best to pay attention.His most recent mock draft, which was released on Feb. 18, had the Arizona Cardinals selecting Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa with the No. 29 pick, with the understanding that the team is fairly desperate to find a pass rusher in the draft.A guest of the Off the Edge with B-Train on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday, Kiper talked about how while not necessarily common, history has shown a team can find quality pass rushers late in the first round. “Because it’s hard to identify some of these guys,” he mused. “They grow into a position as an outside linebacker or a defensive end once they are in the NFL, or they develop better technique, better counter-moves. Coaching has a lot to do with the development of a player.”Indeed, some of the game’s best pass rushers have not been selected among the draft’s first 10 or 15 picks, though at the same time, many of the best were. As it is with any position talent can be found all throughout the draft, it’s just a matter of finding it and then having the patience to let the player mature and become an effective rusher.And for the Cardinals, Kiper has a few players in mind.“I think the pass rushers this year that you have to look out at and look out for for Arizona would be late in Round 1, Emmanuel Ogbah from Oklahoma State, who had I think a decent but not a great year but then had a phenomenal workout — he looked like a two, now maybe he’s a late one,” he said. “Kevin Dodd from Clemson who had a great year but didn’t test well, he could be around at that particular point.“And then Noah Spence is going to be interesting because he had a great start to his career at Ohio State, then moved on to Eastern Kentucky — had an off the field issue — has a great year at Eastern Kentucky, great Senior Bowl week, then just an average workout. So will he be there? We’ll see. Leonard Floyd from Georgia tests a little bit better than he plays. Kamalei Correa, Boise State, just a heck of a football player. LISTEN: Mel Kiper, Jr. – ESPN NFL Draft Analyst FILE – In this Nov. 14, 2015, file photo, Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, right, sacks Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning during the first half of an NCAA college football game, in Ames, Iowa. Oklahoma State junior defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, with 13 sacks, is the Big 12 defensive player of the year. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth, File) Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The knee injury will keep Smith off the field in 2016, meaning whatever team takes him is essentially going to redshirt him in preparation for 2017.“He’s a kid that we really don’t have a handle on as to where he’s going to go.” Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling 0 Comments   Share   Your browser does not support the audio element. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo “So I think those are some of the options that are really in play late in round one for Arizona.”As of Wednesday afternoon, the ArizonaSports.com Mock Draft Tracker shows Ogbah, Dodd, Spence, Correa and Floyd linked to Arizona fairly often, with a handful of other players mixed in.One position they are not often projected to draft is cornerback, though the Cardinals also seem to have a need there, too.If he was running the Cardinals and had to address pass rush or cornerback in the first round, Kiper said he would choose pass rush but sees some defensive backs who could help.“It depends on what type of corner you’re looking for,” he said. “I’ll throw Artie Burns from Miami of Florida, I’ll throw his name out there if you want a corner who could be viable in the late first.”But, Kiper said, there figures to be more opportunity for the Cardinals to land a rusher in Floyd, Correa or maybe Spence. He also mentioned Jaylon Smith, who was considered to be one of the best defensive players in the country before he tore his ACL and MCL in Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State.“I look at Jaylon Smith as a guy, who, where’s he going to go,” Kiper asked. “Is he going to be a mid-one, a late-one, a two? Here’s a guy who would have been in the mix to be the No. 1 pick in the draft.” Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

  • The 5 Takeaways from the Coyotes introduction of

    first_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo “Some guys would go in the tank and that’s what I liked about it the most. He really came back and looked really good.”His day went on to include some pass breakups, including one on a ball that was intended for Floyd.The 23-year-old Williams no doubt looks the part of a top-flight cornerback. At 6 feet and 200 pounds he has good size, and the 4.37 40-yard dash he ran at the scouting combine shows he has plenty of speed.Of course, he is still a rookie, which means there will be bumps along the way as he learns the speed of not only the NFL game, but NFL players.“They know what they’re doing,” he said of the players he is lining up against. “They’re smarter, they’re older, so they understand the game more so they are more faster.”The sooner Williams can get up to speed, the better off the Cardinals will be. The cornerback spot opposite star Patrick Peterson is arguably the team’s biggest question mark heading into camp, and while few teams can boast a pair of top-tier cornebacks, most probably have a bit more in the way of sure things than the Cardinals.Might Williams actually earn the job?Arians praised the rookie’s work ethic, noting he is a hard worker and “was in Patricks’ hip pocket all summer” doing what he could to learn from one of the game’s best. GLENDALE, Ariz. — It was a widely accepted assumption that though the Arizona Cardinals chose Brandon Williams in the third round with the 92nd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Texas A&M product was a bit of a project who would need some time before he was ready to make a significant contribution.Yet there he was on the first day of training camp running with the first team defense and matching up with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown and J.J. Nelson. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Nothing like being thrown right into the fire, right?For Williams, who played just one season at cornerback in college, he wouldn’t have it any other way.“So I get the feel of the game and understand what I’m doing at a faster tempo,” he said.As for Arians, well, there’s really no other option.“He’s on the first team defense so he’s going to see the first team offense all year,” he said. “No time to waste.”In fairness, while Williams was impressive during OTAs and mini-camp, he probably would not be running with the first defense if fellow cornerback Justin Bethel was not out while recovering from offseason foot surgery.However, the why he is a starter right now is not nearly as important as the what he does with the role, and though it’s about as early in training camp as you can get, so far, so good.“Brandon had a hell of a day,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said of the rookie’s effort. “He got beat by [John Brown] but he was there, he just turned a little bit the wrong way and got off balance. But he broke up some good balls and the nice thing about it is after the touchdown he came back and competed his ass off. Cardinals rookie Brandon Williams gets set to line up during a training camp practice July 29. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports) Friday, as Williams was talking to the media, Peterson dropped by to share some thoughts on his teammate.“The kid had a great practice today, so happy for him, I’m proud of him,” Peterson said. “He’s taking great strides. That kid’s got it. He’s got it.”That’s high praise from a player who is arguably the NFL’s best cornerback, though when told that must mean he’s arrived, Williams smiled and laughed.“Nah, nah,” he said. – / 22center_img Top Stories “He’s a more mature rookie than most,” he added.But he is still a rookie, and as Williams said, if day one of camp taught him anything it is that he has a long way to go. Getting to work with and against a group of receivers like the Cardinals have may lead to giving up more completions than he would like, but at the same time, Williams sees what could be perceived as a disadvantage as something that instead can be beneficial.“I just see opportunity, opportunity to get better,” he said. “All those guys bring different styles to the table. Larry is a big guy, Mike is too. Smoke and J.J. are more faster guys, so I get to work on different parts of my game with them.”Brown, who as Arians said beat Williams for a long touchdown, was complimentary of the cornerback.“He doesn’t look like a rookie at all,” he said. “He’s making plays — you know, he’s doing what he’s doing. He had a lot of pass breakups [Friday], so he looked real good.”Good day or not, Williams said his confidence always stays at an even level. If anything, he said making big plays only motivates him to pay even more attention to detail, because his understanding of what he was supposed to do is what allows him to succeed. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Comments   Share   last_img read more

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    first_img Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Comments   Share   The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Chandler Jones is proving to be one of the best pickups of the offseason for any team. He has been arguably the league’s best edge rusher through seven weeks of the season, and almost single-handedly shut down the Seattle offense this past week by abusing their left tackle(s). Jones has exceptional length, which allows him to get into the pads of tackles, giving him the chance to win with strength more than speed (compared to a rusher like Miller). It’s an unusual skill-set, though, and Seahawks LT Bradley Sowell, for one, had no answer, routinely ending up on the floor as Jones hit him with his push-pull move to defeat the block.Campbell, now in his ninth season with the Cardinals, has been consistent with his performance so far in 2016. The veteran has accumulated 18 combined tackles and two sacks, both of which came from the 33-21 win in San Francisco.The quirk of this season is that Calais Campbell is a very good pass-rusher, but probably one that would be several spots lower on this list in a typical year. He has two sacks and 19 total pressures so far, and by far his best performance has come from beating up on the hapless Seahawks’ offensive line. Campbell is a player that can change games with his ability to collapse pockets from the inside.Though both pass-rushers have had off-games, last week’s dominance of Seattle’s offensive line showed how much of a force the duo can be when they are on top of their game at the same time. Top Stories Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones (55) recovers the fumble by New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The Arizona Cardinals’ (3-3-1) defense has been highlighted as of late by stellar pass-rushing. Two players of note have had especially good seasons.Pro Football Focus ranked Chandler Jones (No. 3) and Calais Campbell (No. 5) in its list of the NFL’s best pass-rushers through Week 7.The Cardinals traded for Jones in the offseason in order to bolster their dominant defense from last season. So far, he has yet to disappoint with two forced fumbles and a team-high five sacks. Jones has garnered at least one sack in five of Arizona’s seven games.last_img read more

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    first_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo David Johnson broke out in 2016, tallying 1,239 rushing yards and 879 receiving yards to go along with 20 total touchdowns.He was a hard-nosed back that could transition into a quick receiver from play to play, a formula that was almost unstoppable, as Pro Football Focus points out.His use as a receiver made him one of the most unique players in the NFL — to the point Pro Football Focus named him the top receiver in the NFL for 2016. Take his rushing completely out of the equation, and Johnson would have tied for No. 39 in fantasy scoring at the wide receiver position. And he did that with a lower average depth of target (aDOT) than any qualifying wide receiver.Johnson was a gold mine for any fantasy owner that drafted him, scoring 407.8 points in ESPN fantasy football, or more than 27 more points than the next-best player.Johnson’s usage in 2016 doesn’t match any other running back’s usage in the last decade. There have been 67 qualifying running backs with an aDOT of 3.0 yards of higher in that time (Johnson’s was 4.6, 12th-highest). Of those, none have come within 35 of Johnson’s 107 targets, and only 12 players have had even 50 targets at that aDOT.His 2016 season turned into an anomaly, his 80 receptions tied for 20th among all players and his 293 rush attempts ranked third in the league, numbers that would him make him among the upper echelon of players at both positions.Running backs who see that depth of target don’t see a lot of targets. Running backs who see a lot of targets don’t have that depth of target or that many carries. Running backs who see that many carries don’t have that many receiving yards. Take out Johnson’s receiving, and he’d have been the No. 8 fantasy running back. Take out his rushing, and he’d have been the No. 39 wide receiver.Put them both together, and that season hardly even makes sense.Johnson will look to improve upon his stats from a year ago as he enters his third NFL season in 2017, his first since gaining newfound motivation in the birth of his son. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) runs from San Francisco 49ers linebacker Nick Bellore, middle, and defensive end Taylor Hart (96) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Top Stories 0 Comments   Share   Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more