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Australian News

Luxury escapes: Aussies book Orpheus Island, Hamilton Island, Lord Howe Island and more


High-end travel is surging as direct result of coronavirus, with Australians who feel they deserve a special break post-lockdown trading up and splashing hard-earned dollars once intended for overseas trips on luxury domestic holidays.

Luxury lodges, retreats and hotels are filling up fast for months ahead, with some service providers recording a ten-fold jump in bookings year-on-year.

Luxury Escapes, who package special locations together with VIP inclusions, have booked more than 1000 trips with a nightly rate exceeding $1000 in the three months to September, compared to less than 100 this time last year.

Chief customer officer, Jason Shugg, said strong booking numbers show the Aussie desire for travel is alive and well — a trend reflected across the price spectrum and highlighted by the Go And Get campaign backing domestic tourism.

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“The behavioural change we are seeing is twofold,” Mr Shugg said. “People are either upgrading their experiences within Australia or they’re travelling for longer, as this is now their primary trip of the year.

“In the end Australian tourism will be the winner as they’ve got a captive market for the next six to 12 months at least.”

Packages to the exclusive Berkeley River Lodge in Western Australia and Orpheus Island in Queensland sold out within a week and immediate weekend availability at Jamala Wildlife Lodge in the ACT was gone within a day.

Orpheus Island in Queensland.

Berkeley River Lodge in WA.

Demand has kept occupancy at the exclusive qualia resort on Hamilton Island at around 85 to 90 per cent and has led to an increase in flights with a daily direct flight from Brisbane recently added.

Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island has bookings well into autumn 2021 and Tim Stanhope of Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains said the domestic market has filled the gap left by international visitors.

Supplied Editorial Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island

Capella Lodge at Lord Howe Island.

Emirates One&Only Resort Wolgan Valley in NSW.

The “trade-up” effect is being reported anecdotally at all levels of the travel market, fuelled by those whose incomes have not been impacted by coronavirus and who have saved money by reducing leisure activities in recent months. Janelle Boyd from NRMA Parks and Resorts said a new market of “five-star campers” has emerged, opting for glamping tents and cabins over campsites.

RELATED: Australia’s hot travel deals right now

However it’s at the top end that the figures are most noticeable.

View Retreats, an online travel booking service that focuses on grander properties, reports customers are paying double on this time last year.

“If we look at the average price people were paying per holiday before COVID-19, it was around $1400 to $1500,” said spokesperson Stoewie Van Den Bulk. “Now it is almost $3000. Property owners are telling us they are overwhelmed with enquiries and bookings, they’re taking bookings as far ahead as August and September 2021.”

Jamala Wildlife Lodge in the ACT has also been popular.

Mark and Jacqui Buckley of Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches had to cancel a family trip to South America this year due to COVID-19. They have turned their focus to exploring Australia and recently returned from a week at Elements of Byron at Byron Bay.

“We loved it so much there we have booked to go again in the Christmas holidays,” Jacqui said. “I’d love to visit The Pearle at Cable Beach in 2021 and Longitude 131 in the Northern Territory.

“Though it was disappointing to have our South America trip cancelled, Australia has so many amazing destinations.”

Join in the #EscapeSnaps celebration of Australia’s best holiday spots and experiences this weekend — part of the Go And Get It campaign to support domestic tourism. Share your favourite memories or future Aussie dream destinations on Instagram and tag @escape.com.au and #escapesnaps.





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Business

Luxury retail brands defy jitters with new leases for post-COVID demand


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives but the most adaptable, however in the reality of the luxury retail world the strong brands will survive and the small independent and weakly positioned names will undergo structural issues and, in some cases, even disappear,” Mr Alamsyah said.

One brand adapting is the new Louis Vuitton store in Sydney which now includes a “maison” area for exclusive customers.

He said, based on a number of lease deals signed in Sydney, the luxury sector has been more recession-proof than most others.

Amid the dire predictions, the global market for luxury goods has flourished for decades. In 2019 the global value of the sector was estimated to be €1.26 trillion ($A2 trillion), but in 2020 global luxury retail sales could decline by up to 40 per cent and remain in negative territory until the impact of COVID-19 eases.

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Post the global financial crisis, evidence shows that in 2008, luxury retail was one of the few sector that didn’t decline as significantly when compared to the rest of the sector.

Mr Alamsyah said new leases had been inked by Fendi at 135 Elizabeth Street, formerly Hermes, which has moved to The Trust Building in Castlereagh and King streets, opposite the new Valentino at the Dexus-owned MLC Centre and Rolex has signed at 192 Pitt Street.

Lotte Duty Free at 55 Market Street, which is also eyeing off a site in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall and Mecca Cosmetica will move into the former Top Shop at 45 Market Street.

Popular cosmetics group Sephora will relocate to the nearby former Soul Pattinson chemist at 160 Pitt Street to increase the pressure on the nearby department stores Myer and David Jones.

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It is understood that several big brands have signed at the new retail podium at 388 George Street, including a high-end jeweller and popular apparel retailers, but Mr Alamsyah declined to comment.

It is also expected that Scentre will reveal new tenants including Chanel, Harry Winston, Loro Piana, Brunello Cucinelli, for the development at the former David Jones menswear store at 77 Market Street in conjunction with Cbus Property.

Scentre Group director development and strategic asset management, Stewart White, said the city’s home of luxury, Westfield Sydney is experiencing a wave of luxury brand rejuvenation, expansion and renewal as it prepares for the return of more international customers when borders re-open.

Rents for the various stores, which range from 300 square metres up to 3000 sq m are from about $2.5 million up to more than $8.5 million per annum with the lease terms of between five years up to 10 years plus options to renew.

Reflecting the volatility of the sector, is Deloitte Access Economics’ latest quarterly Retail Forecasts subscriber report, which shows total spending slumped in the June quarter, but a solid performance in June and July suggests stronger momentum in the September quarter.

Deloitte Access Economics partner, and retail forecasts principal author, David Rumbens, said retail spending has fallen at the fastest rate in nearly 20 years as COVID-19 cast a cloud over the consumer landscape.

“Looking forward, some parts of retail are expected to take longer than others to recover,” Mr Rumbens said.

“Supermarkets, specialty food and liquor, household goods, and other retailing have already exceeded December’s pre-COVID spending levels over a whole quarter.”

But he said it is expected to take much longer for department stores, catered food and apparel to reach this benchmark.

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Local News - Victoria

Simonds Homes executive director Mark Simonds escapes Melbourne lockdown on luxury yacht


Melbourne construction magnate Mark Simonds is the latest Victorian multimillionaire to be granted an exemption to relocate his family to Queensland, after sailing up the east coast on his super-yacht, Lady Pamela.

Mr Simonds, executive director of the ASX-listed Simonds Group, was joined on his 15-day voyage along Australia’s east coast in the 30-metre vessel by his wife, Cheryl, their youngest son, and Hannah Fox, daughter of Linfox executive chairman Peter Fox.

The Lady Pamela is moored at the Gold Coast City Marina while a nurse tests Hannah Fox for COVID-19 on the yacht.

The Lady Pamela is moored at the Gold Coast City Marina while a nurse tests Hannah Fox for COVID-19 on the yacht. Credit:A Current Affair

The Lady Pamela docked on the Gold Coast about 10am on Monday, more than two weeks after leaving Melbourne on August 9, when the city was under stage four lockdown restrictions – the same day that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews reported 17 deaths linked to COVID-19 and 394 new cases.

A joint investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and A Current Affair can reveal that Mr Simonds and six other passengers and crew were not permitted to disembark on Monday until they were tested for COVID-19.

Medical staff boarded the boat about 4.30pm on Monday to conduct the testing, but it remained unclear if those on board the Lady Pamela would be required to serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel.

The Simonds family owns a property on the Gold Coast, while Ms Fox is expected to be reunited with her family, who have leased a property at Palm Beach since July 1.

Last week, The Age and A Current Affair revealed Mr Fox had moved with his wife and two other children to the Gold Coast based on a rule allowing truck drivers to enter the state, despite a ban on most other Victorian visitors.

Mark Simonds and wife Cheryl on board the Lady Pamela while moored in the Clarence River at Yamba on the weekend.

Mark Simonds and wife Cheryl on board the Lady Pamela while moored in the Clarence River at Yamba on the weekend.Credit:Nine

Queensland Health only granted an exemption for the Lady Pamela to enter Queensland waters on Sunday night, according to police sources.

Queensland Health was contacted for comment.

Since last Wednesday, the boat had been moored in an inlet in Yamba, on the NSW north coast, where the Simonds family were seen swimming in the Clarence River and drinking on deck, while a crew member was dispatched to bring supplies.

Queensland Police had monitored the progress of the yacht over the past fortnight as it meandered up the coast, stopping on at least five occasions.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services said the public health advice for Melburnians was clear.

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“You should not be travelling interstate unless it is for a permitted reason and you must comply with the rules that your destination state or territory has in place,” the spokeswoman said.

“Regardless of the mode of transport, metropolitan Melbourne stage four restrictions apply to all metropolitan Melbourne residents.”

The directions allow people to leave their home for the purposes of moving to a new home, or to leave Victoria to reside in another state.

Mr Simonds declined to comment.

At the time of the Lady Pamela’s departure, Premier Daniel Andrews commended the community for complying with strict lockdown conditions.

He also warned that: “No Victorian has the right to say, ‘Oh well, I think I can do something no one else is allowed to do.’ “

As the boat departed Victorian waters, Ms Simonds posted a photograph of the coastline on social media with four emojis of a thumbs down symbol, a face wearing a mask and two suns.

The boat and its well-heeled passengers later docked in Eden and Jervis Bay on NSW’s Sapphire Coast.

On August 15, the vessel dropped anchor in North Arm Cove and Corlette near Port Stephens, before again stopping in Coffs Harbour.

Mr Simonds began his career as an apprentice carpenter in the early ’70s, following in the footsteps of his father, Gary, who founded the construction empire in 1949. Over the past 70 years, Simonds Homes has built more than 50,000 homes across the country.

The business was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2014 and ranks as the nation’s fifth- largest home builder, according to the Housing Industry of Australia.

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When Melbourne was placed on stage four restrictions on August 2, Simonds Group, which has been a long-time sponsor of the Geelong Football Club, posted a message of support on the company website.

“At Simonds we stand together with the rest of Victoria and remain committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19. We also understand the key role we play in the state’s economy and the responsibility that comes with this for our customers, our staff and the wider community,” the messsage said.

Mr Simonds and his father both live in sprawling mansions on Yarradale Road, Toorak, which back onto the Yarra River.

In 2003, he was granted a permit by Stonnington Council to add a new entrance foyer, four-car garage and a mooring wharf on the river’s edge.

But in 2013, Mr Simonds rankled neighbours when he also included an outdoor bar, covered eating and entertainment area, inbuilt trampoline, storage sheds, an elaborate jetty and a Greco colonnade – none of which were included on the planning permit.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered Mr Simonds to demolish parts of his extension within 98 days and pay $80,000 in legal costs for Melbourne Water and Stonnington Council.

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Australian News

A luxury car and restaurant sprayed with bullets during a firearms incident


Police are appealing to the public for information after a luxury car and restaurant were damaged following a firearms incident in Moonee Ponds last night.

A bullet lodged into the seat of a Porsche while another whizzed past diners in popular Italian restaurant, Esca Bar and Grill.

Police have been told witnesses heard the shots being fired in the vicinity of Mt Alexander Road and Addison Street about 10.40pm.

A Porsche, which was parked on Addison Street, was damaged after a bullet entered the front passenger window and struck the driver’s seat, Victoria Police confirmed.

A bullet also entered the window of a restaurant on Mt Alexander Road and lodged into a seating booth where four patrons were seated.

Miraculously, no one was injured during the incident.

An operator of the seafood and grill restaurant said it was not the target of the shooting.

“It’s got nothing to do with the restaurant. There’s not much I can say. We’re in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he told the Herald Sun.

Freshly reopened after lockdown, the operator feared last night’s incident will negatively impact business.

“The last few months have been difficult enough, we don’t need the bad publicity. We have nothing to do with it.

“We never even heard the shots going off.”

Police have been told two unknown males and a female were heard shouting in the area prior to the shots being fired.

A male and female were also seen leaving the area in a red-coloured car shortly after the incident.

Detectives are urging these people to come forward and make themselves known to police.

“No-one was injured during the incident and the investigation is ongoing,” a police spokeswoman said.

Investigators are looking into whether there is any CCTV in the area and appeal for anyone with information to come forward.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.



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Local News - Victoria

Police cars rammed during dramatic arrest of men wanted over luxury store burglaries


Police said the pair’s apprehension followed an investigation into a series of commercial burglaries on luxury goods stores including Miss Louise on Collins Street on May 26.

The men have also been arrested in relation to five other incidents from earlier on Thursday where items were stolen from a luxury goods store in Southbank, a tool store in Thomastown, a pharmacy in Ivanhoe, a sports store in Kew and a fast-food restaurant in Prahran.

A police spokeswoman said at the time of their arrest, the two men, one a 30-year-old from Northcote and the other a 56-year-old from Carlton, rammed two police cars in an attempt to flee.

Thousands of dollars worth of designer women’s goods, including high-end shoes and bags, were stolen after a car smashed through the window of the Miss Louise boutique in the CBD on May 26.

Melbourne CBD boutique store Miss Louise had thousands of dollars' worth of designer goods stolen after a car smashed through its shopfront window in a daylight burglary.

Melbourne CBD boutique store Miss Louise had thousands of dollars’ worth of designer goods stolen after a car smashed through its shopfront window in a daylight burglary.Credit:Nine News

At the time police said a ute was used to smash through the window before two men fled the scene with stolen goods, about 7.20am.

Jennifer Cooper, who witnessed the duo’s eventual arrest on Thursday labelled it a “brilliant tactical success” by police.

“A planned coordinated box in of a large white ute which rammed three cars and filled the air with burnt rubber,” she tweeted.

A police spokeswoman said the men are expected to be charged with burglary, theft, theft of motor vehicle, criminal damage, dangerous driving whilst being pursued by police and intentionally exposing an emergency worker to risk by driving.



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Australian News

Woman dies after luxury hotel fall


A woman has been found dead in Sydney’s Darling Harbour after mysteriously falling from the balcony of a luxury hotel.

The woman’s body was discovered about 8pm last night after emergency services were called to Sussex Street to reports of a fall from the Hyatt Regency hotel in the city’s CBD.

It is unknown if the woman died from the fall or was already dead beforehand.

Police have not yet formally identified the woman.

A crime scene has been set up and a police investigation has been launched into her death.



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Local News - Victoria

Luxury car found in manhunt for fugitive Ricardo Barbaro


On Friday, five days into the homicide investigation, police uncovered the Mercedes at Diggers Rest, in Melbourne’s north-west.

Mr Barbaro remains on the run.

Police believe Ricardo Barbaro could now be travelling in his white 2009 Toyota Hiace van, registration, 1OZ 8PC.

Police believe Ricardo Barbaro could now be travelling in his white 2009 Toyota Hiace van, registration, 1OZ 8PC.Credit:Sean Baumgart

“Detectives from both the homicide squad and fugitive taskforce, along with a number of other police units, have conducted significant searches over the past four days in an attempt to locate Barbaro, however have been unsuccessful,” a police spokeswoman said.

“Police believe Barbaro could now be travelling in his white 2009 Toyota Hiace van, registration, 1OZ 8PC.”

Joe Barbaro leaves court in 2004.

Joe Barbaro leaves court in 2004.Credit:Paul Harris

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Mr Barbaro is a scion of the Barbaro crime family, an Australian branch of the Italian mafia, and brother of slain Sydney underworld boss Pasquale Timothy Barbaro, 35, who was gunned down in a 2016 gangland hit.

Both are sons of Joe Barbaro, a cousin of gangland figure Pasquale Barbaro, who was gunned down alongside Jason Moran in a van while watching a children’s football training session in Essendon in 2003.

The wanted 33-year-old is described as being about 185cm tall with a solid build, black hair and olive complexion.

Detectives are calling on Mr Barbaro to come forward and make contact with police.

Police issued a stern warning that anyone found to be harbouring or assisting Mr Barbaro could face criminal prosecution.

Anyone who sees Mr Barbaro should not approach him, and should contact triple zero immediately.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or vist crimestoppersvic.com.au.

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