MICE industry in Austria witnessed a significant growth in 2015. The country hosted 18,172 events with approximately 1.46 million participants, as per the latest Meeting Industry Reports Austria, presented by the Austrian Convention Bureau and the Austrian National Tourism Centre.Last year, the conference industry generated around 3.1 million overnight stays (+10.9%) in the country, leading to an increase from 2.1% in 2010 to 2.3% of overnight stays by all tourists.“While the congresses in 2015 represent only a quarter of all the events, they generated more than half of all participants and three quarters of all overnight stays,” commented Petra Stolba, Managing Director, Austrian Tourism Centre.The MICE industry recorded an increase of 12.6% with a total of 4328 conventions while corporate meetings represented 46.9% of the events. Vienna remained the meetings industry leader with 39.2% of all events organised in the capital. Salzburg solidified its position as the second largest conference destination in Austria. Regarding the number of events, lower Austria took the third place.Small and medium-sized markets on the other hand dominated the year with a market share of 94.5%. Congresses with participants less than 100 represented 61.3% (+30%) of the entire congress business and around 16% of participants. Contributing the biggest share among these were the business and political events.Besides, the Austrian eco-label for Green Meetings and Events was launched in 2010 and has established itself as a recognised label for sustainable events. In 2015, there were 329 green meetings organised in Austria.
Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor recently made her first visit to Israel, accompanied by her mother where they spent time unwinding and relaxing while still visiting the sites and sights, enjoying the vast cuisines and the culture in Jerusalem, Dead Sea and Tel Aviv.The Neerja star was in Israel to shoot the cover story of Harper’s Bazaar Bride Magazine in the stunning Jerusalem. Sonam extended her trip after the shoot and also met Amir Halevi, Director General – Israel Ministry of Tourism, along with Hassan Madah, Director – Israel Ministry of Tourism India.“Israel is beautiful and exciting. I was thrilled while exploring Israel and everything about this place is so unique! When I was in Jerusalem, the character of the city, the culture, beautiful alleys, markets, and lovely people kept me hooked all the time. I also felt that Dead Sea is out of the world experience which I will always cherish. I hope to be back here soon,” said Kapoor.“Bollywood music is popular in Israel, but the sighting of a Bollywood star is not common so we were happy to welcome Sonam Kapoor as she is among the first few Bollywood celebrities to visit Israel. Sonam’s visit was special because she was accompanied by her mother Sunita, and after a successful photo-shoot in Jerusalem, they extended their trip to discover parts of Israel and also meet some of her fans. As India is an important market for us, we continue our focus to attract Indian travellers to Israel for leisure travel like honeymoon, family vacations or adventure, as well as MICE, and we hope that Sonam Kapoor’s visit will attract her fans to visit the country as well,” added Madah.
The Luxury Hotel Marketing & Consultancy firm, India Sales Associates has signed up the ultra-luxury Panacea Koh Samui Resort for GSA services in Indian market. Panacea Koh Samui resort is set atop a private manicured estate in Samui’s luxuriant, palm-clad coastal hill. It is situated 15 minutes from the Samui International airport in the hills above the coast of Bophut and Fisherman’s Village making it an ideal location to explore the island of Koh Samui.“Koh Samui in Thailand is well positioned among high-end luxury travellers from India. The resort with its uniquely designed large private pool villas and superlative personalised services is a perfect fit for friends and families vacationing together. It offers customised benefits for honeymooners and couples. We are happy to present this unique resort to the Indian market,” said Manas Sinha, Director, India Sales Associates, GSA-Panacea Koh Samui.Panacea Koh Samui has a dedicated kitchen team trained by Chef Alessandro Verdenelli of KX Health Club in London. Custom-designed menus are prepared with fresh local produce and the healthiest of ingredients.
According to recent data, Guam has recorded the highest number of arrivals for the year 2017 which has encouraged the tourism department of Guam’s vision to expand its reach as per their new ‘Tourism 2020’ strategic agenda. The Guam Visitors Bureau is in the process of executing its Tourism 2020’s visitor arrival projections, which was developed in 2014.Guam attracted around 25,000 Chinese visitors without a visa waiver, while the CNMI welcomed more than 200,000 Chinese last year through its visa waiver program, which made up 40% of their arrivals.The tourism department has witnessed an exceptional growth in terms of Korean visitors. The goal for the Korea market was 350,000 visitors by 2020 whereas Guam nearly doubled that goal in fiscal 2017 with 649,435.Guam has added airlines along the way. It operates 16 airlines. The latest launch was Air Seoul’s direct service from Incheon on September, increasing the number of airlines from Korea to six. However, some existing carriers, such as Delta, have suspended their service.Some of the obvious benefits of growing and diversifying the markets translate into an increase in tourism-related jobs, government tax revenues and tourism economy sales that support private and small businesses. This growth has hugely left a positive impact on the residents, generating a steady employment opportunity.
GFI Sued for Alleged Discriminatory Lending Practices April 3, 2012 427 Views A lawsuit was filed against “”GFI Mortgage Bankers””:http://gfimortgage.com/ for allegations that it charged African American and Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates and fees on mortgage loans because of their race rather than their creditworthiness, the “”Justice Department””:http://www.justice.gov/ and the “”U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York””:http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/ announced in a statement Tuesday.[IMAGE]The complaint was filed Tuesday in the Southern District of New York under the federal Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act and alleges GFI charged African American and Hispanic borrowers higher rates and fees on mortgage loans compared to whites in similar situations. For example, an African American borrower who took out a home mortgage loan in 2007 paid on average $7,500[COLUMN_BREAK] more over the first four years of the loan than a white borrower in a similar situation, and a Hispanic borrower paid $5,600 more, according to the statement. During the period when the discrimination occurred, GFI had a policy or practice of allowing and encouraging its loan officers in New York and New Jersey to promote loan products, price loans, and charge fees in a manner that was unrelated to credit risk or loan characteristics. According to the statement, GFI knew that its loan officers priced loans based on factors unrelated to creditworthiness, resulting in thousands of dollars in overcharges for African American and Hispanic borrowers. GFI also failed to monitor its loan officers to ensure that they were pricing loans in a non-discriminatory manner. During the period when the discrimination occurred, the number of home mortgage loans issued by GFI increased from 974 in 2005 to 2,270 in 2009. Also, the GFI’s revenue from its home mortgage loan services increased from $305 million in 2005 to $768 million in 2009.This case resulted from a referral by HUD to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in 2010.African American and Hispanic borrowers who received GFI loans since 2005, former employees of GFI or any other individuals with information relevant to this case are encouraged to contact the Justice Department. in Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies HUD Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Mortgage Rates Processing Service Providers Underwriting Standards 2012-04-03 Esther Cho Share
HUD Awards Additional $6 Million in Housing Counseling Grants in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News After awarding $36 million worth of grants to hundreds of national, regional, and local organizations to help families and individuals with their housing needs and to prevent future foreclosures in April, HUD recently awarded an additional $6 million in grants to add to that total, according to a press release.HUD also mentioned that the announcement includes nearly $1.5 million for new housing counseling grantees and $4.5 million to supplement the funding awarded in April to existing grantees.Nearly $6 million of the total $42 million will directly support the housing counseling services provided by 33 national and regional organizations, six multi-state organizations, 20 State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs), and 248 local housing counseling agencies.”Whether you’re a first-time buyer or trying to keep the place you’ve always called home, knowledge is the key to financial empowerment,” said Julián Castro, HUD secretary. “We’re proud to support our housing counseling partners as they help American families achieve stability and prosperity.”According to HUD, most of the grants they are providing for these organizations were completed through the department’s FY2014–FY2015 Comprehensive Housing Counseling Grant Program Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) published March 4, 2014. HUD is also offering additional grants to new housing counseling agencies that are eligible through a supplemental funding notice HUD published in April.“National and regional agencies distribute much of HUD’s housing counseling grant funding to community-based organizations that assist low-and moderate-income families to improve their housing conditions,” HUD said in the press release. “In addition, these larger organizations help improve the quality of housing counseling services and enhance coordination among counseling providers.”Grant recipients will be expected to use the funds to alleviate families’ housing counseling needs, HUD says. This includes helping homebuyers evaluate how ready they are to purchase a home, understanding what options they have with financing and how much of a down-payment is needed, and navigate the difficult buying process with ease. These organizations will also help people find affordable rental housing and offer financial literacy training to individuals and families whose lack of good credit limit their housing options.“Housing counseling agencies support fair housing by assisting borrowers in reviewing their loan documentation, to avoid potential mortgage scams, unreasonably high interest rates, inflated appraisals, unaffordable repayment terms, and other conditions that can result in a loss of equity, increased debt, default, and even foreclosure,” HUD said. “Likewise, foreclosure prevention counseling helps homeowners facing delinquency or default employ strategies, including expense reduction, negotiation with lenders and loan servicers, and loss mitigation, to avoid foreclosure.”HUD will also be providing transitional housing for homeless people that need it with the hope of eventually finding them a permanent place to live. Senior citizens will also receive help with reverse mortgages. These agencies will provide counseling for the rapidly growing number of elderly homeowners who seek to convert equity in their homes into income that can be used to pay for home improvements, medical costs, and other living expenses.Senior households have been rising slowly over the decades, but this is about to change in the coming years. Yesterday, Urban Institute’s recent analysis of housing trends determined that senior households are expected to grow dramatically by 2030.The institute found that in 1990, there were 20 million households for seniors ages 65 and up. In 2010, this number had reached 25.8 million, and by 2030, the institute projects that aging baby boomer households will reach 46 million.“This dramatic growth will occur among both senior homeowners and renters, the authors said. “Our research suggests that from 2010 to 2030, senior homeowners will increase from 20 million to almost 34 million, and senior renters—who include both homeowners who will shift to renting and baby boomers who already rent—will increase from 5.8 million to 12.2 million.”Click here to view HUD’s list of Counseling Agency Grantees. June 16, 2015 494 Views Share First-Time Homebuyers Foreclosures Housing Counseling Grants 2015-06-16 Staff Writer
Internal Review Group National Mortgage Settlement Monitor Ocwen Financial Sufficiently Addressed 2015-08-11 Seth Welborn Monitor Determines Issues with Ocwen’s IRG Have Been ‘Sufficiently Addressed’ Joseph A. Smith, Jr., monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS), concluded his investigation of Ocwen Financial’s Internal Review Group (IRG) with the determination that issues surrounding the Atlanta-based servicer’s IRG have been “sufficiently addressed,” according to an announcement from Smith’s office.Smith announced Tuesday he had filed his final report with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on the investigation of Ocwen’s IRG and of Ocwen’s compliance with the NMS for the first and second quarters of 2014.Smith’s report includes independent retesting of at-risk metrics and the corrective action plans (CAPs) Ocwen has implemented to address deficiencies. Consumer relief crediting for both Ocwen and SunTrust are included in Smith’s report.Smith, who is overseeing Ocwen’s compliance with the terms of the NMS, said his team launched an investigation in May 2014 after hearing from an employee about “serious deficiencies in Ocwen’s internal review group process” and issues relating to erroneously dated foreclosure notices to about 7,000 borrowers, which Ocwen blamed on computer errors. The erroneously dated notices resulted in Ocwen reaching a $150 million settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services in December 2014.”I now have a measure of assurance that issues with Ocwen’s IRG’s independence, competency and capacity have been sufficiently addressed,” Smith said. “Before reaching that conclusion, I ordered independent retesting of at-risk metrics, reviewed changes made to the personnel and governance of the IRG, and reviewed and approved corrective action plans to address failed metrics and a global corrective action plan that intends to fix letter-dating issues. I will continue to closely monitor Ocwen’s compliance with the Settlement agreement and plan to report on Ocwen’s compliance for the third and fourth quarter of 2014 in the coming weeks.”Independent firm McGladrey LLP reviewed metrics deemed to be at-risk for Q1 and Q2 2014 under Smith’s direction. McGladrey’s findings were “substantially consistent” with those of Ocwen’s IRG. Two failed metrics were discovered for Q1 2014, one found by McGladrey and one discovered by Ocwen’s IRG. Ocwen submitted a CAP, which has been approved by Smith, for both failed metrics. Ocwen has also submitted a Global CAP to remedy the issue of the erroneously dated foreclosure notices under Smith’s direction and approval. According to Smith, Ocwen will implement the Global CAP and testing will resume in Q3 2015.”We are pleased that after more than one year of intense scrutiny and investigation by the Monitor, our original testing was substantially validated,” said Ocwen spokesman John Lovallo. “The Monitor appears to have regained confidence in our Internal Review Group and our overall compliance with the National Mortgage Settlement.”Consumer Relief CreditSmith confirmed that Ocwen has provided more than $881 million in consumer relief to 8,861 borrowers through first-lien mortgage modifications as of December 31, 2014, in his first report on Ocwen’s $2 billion consumer relief obligation under the NMS.”After my thorough reviews, I can confirm Ocwen’s progress of over $800 million toward its consumer relief obligation,” Smith said. “I will continue to report to the public on Ocwen’s consumer relief activities and my reviews as information is available.”Lovallo issued a statement that Ocwen was “very pleased” with Smith’s first update on Ocwen’s progress toward its consumer relief obligation under the NMS.”With over two years left to meet our obligations, we have completed 44 percent of the required consumer relief, and we believe we have satisfied most if not all of the remaining principal reduction requirements,” Lovallo said. “We will submit those principal reductions credits to OMSO (Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight) in the near future. These principal reduction modifications, as well as all our loss mitigation options we offer to our borrowers, are designed to be net present value positive when compared with a foreclosure. In the end, our principal reduction modifications benefit both investors in the loans, and help keep families in their homes.”SunTrust BankSmith also reported that he has credited SunTrust Bank with distributing $7.8 million in consumer relief toward its obligation of $500 million to be provided by September 30, 2017. The initial filing is based on 100 loans submitted by the Atlanta-based through December 31, 2014. This is Smith’s second report on SunTrust’s consumer relief progress.”SunTrust submitted to me an initial sample of 100 loans to ensure that its testing protocols had been properly designed and implemented,” Smith said. “Based on this early review of relief distributed through year-end last year, I am encouraged by SunTrust’s progress. I will continue to closely review and oversee its consumer relief distribution until the $500 million requirement has been met, and I will make information public as soon as it is available.”The NMS was originally finalized in April 2012 between 49 states and the District of Columbia, the federal government, and five banks and/or mortgage servicers —Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Parties to GMAC Residential Capital (which was taken over by Ally Financial), and Wells Fargo—to settle claims of misconduct on the part of the servicers involving residential mortgage foreclosures and loan servicing.The settlement created new servicing standards and providing relief to distressed homeowners as well as funding for state and federal governments. As part of the agreement, the five servicers were required to provide $20 billion in consumer relief and $5 billion in other payments. The settlement is considered landmark because it established the first-ever nationwide reforms to mortgage servicing that include better communication between servicers and borrowers as well as a single point of contact and appropriate standards servicers for executing documents in foreclosure cases.Ocwen falls under Smith’s supervision due to Ocwen’s acquisition of mortgage servicing rights from a unit of Ally Financial, which took over GMAC Residential Capital (ResCap), one of the original banks included in the settlement. ResCap filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013. Ocwen entered into a new consent judgment with the CFPB and 49 states in 2014 that required Ocwen to provide $2.1 billion in consumer relief and comply with standards set forth by the NMS for its entire loan portfolio.For more information about the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement or to see copies of the complaint and all consent orders, click here. in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Servicing August 11, 2015 548 Views Share
November 13, 2015 686 Views Consumer Confidence Housing Market Recovery 2015-11-13 Staff Writer in Data, Featured, Market Studies, Print Features Share The stormy days of the housing meltdown may have passed, but is it all calm waters ahead? The industry’s top economists foresee some unpredictable tides as 2016 approaches.By: Brian A. LeeMany homeowners during the downturn must have felt like Tom Hanks’ character in Cast Away. Trapped as the water rose up around them, with little in the ways of help or hope. The housing sector has come a long way in the full decade since home prices began their initial decline.“Real residential investment has vastly outperformed the overall U.S. economy by recording growth rates of 10.1 and 6.6 percent in the first and second quarters of 2015, respectively,” said Anthony Chan, JPMorgan Chase’s chief economist. “This compares favorably with U.S. real GDP growth over the same period of just 0.6 and 2.3 percent.”The NAR Homebuilders Housing Market Index (HMI) recently achieved its highest reading since October 2005. Fueling further optimism in the sector was the report by the U.S. Census Bureau and the HUD that housing starts in July climbed to their highest level in nearly eight years.Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, echoed the housing expansion sentiment, citing continued improving labor market conditions, rising income, and still-low mortgage rates. Single-family starts and new home sales will be stronger in 2016, he said, although gains in existing-home sales should moderate somewhat while multifamily should be essentially flat.Frank Nothaft, SVP and chief economist at CoreLogic, expects close to 3 million new jobs in the coming year, mortgage rates to stay low “but higher than they are today,” and consumer confidence to remain solid. “Based on this backdrop, home sales are projected to rise about 5 percent in 2016, and the CoreLogic national Home Price Index™ is forecast to appreciate 4 to 5 percent.”Confidence GameConsumers are more confident when they have jobs, and that’s when the housing market hums. The JPMorgan Chase and Fannie Mae economists both pointed to job creation as a key indicator of the health of not only the mortgage market, but also the economy as a whole. As for the latter, both also emphasized the importance of consumer spending, which accounts for approximately two-thirds of all economic activity.“We believe the health of consumers is key to the economy and the housing market,” Duncan said. “Indicators that fundamentally impact consumers include job creation, wage and salary income, and consumer confidence.”Chan said there is little doubt that holding a job, in addition to good credit, is a “crucial prerequisite” for securing a mortgage when purchasing a home.“The unemployment rate has plunged from a high of 10.0 percent to a current reading of 5.3 percent as U.S. job openings have surged to record levels,” he said. “Interestingly, our analysis reveals that both U.S. consumer confidence and the HMI tend to exhibit a high correlation, indicating that a healthy housing market is usually accompanied by strong consumer spending growth.”Approximately 3.1 million non-farm payroll jobs were created in 2014 with at least 2.5 million jobs to be delivered this year, according to Chase’s chief economist, who explained the drop off as the natural tightening of the labor markets.Of course, interest rates always get a lot of attention, from first-time homebuyers to veteran residential developers and beyond. The Fed’s much talked about re-tightening of fiscal policy, which would be its first interest rate increase since 2006, would increase the cost of borrowing money to buy a house.Duncan said, “We expect mortgage rates to increase only gradually over the next year given ongoing international uncertainties, continued monetary easing around the globe and an expected slow pace of monetary tightening by the Fed.”Fannie Mae’s chief economist added that, if the Fed raises rates as expected, foreign institutions could seek to profit from any carry trade and create capital flows into U.S. capital markets, which would hold long-term rates down and increase refinance volumes. He keeps a close eye on indicators directly tied to that spending, such as personal consumption expenditures, retail, and auto sales.“I would say housing is not doing as well as the car market, but a lot better than the labor market,” said Dean Baker, co-founder of The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). “If job growth continues at near its current pace, then we will probably start to see some real wage gains by the end of the year or early next year.”The Long & Winding Path to RecoveryFor all of the slow and sluggish descriptions, the housing market recovery might as well be an economic tortoise. As in Aesop’s fable, all’s well that ends well, right?“Although the recovery in the U.S. housing market has been sluggish from its trough in April 2009, the recovery is real as evidenced by a 466 percent construction surge in multifamily homes and a near doubling for single-family homes,” Chan said.Calling it a “gradual recovery,” Fannie Mae’s Duncan pointed out that most housing indicators, including homebuilder confidence, existing home sales, and single-family starts, have returned to pre-crisis levels with the exception of new home sales.Joseph Murin, JJAM Financial Services Chairman and former president of Ginnie Mae added, “We’ll be watching the percentage of first-time homebuyers. They’re the lifeblood of the mortgage and real estate industry, and they haven’t been there for a few years.”CEPR’s Baker described the sector as “near normal,” citing vacancy rates that have fallen sharply. “Prices have fully rebounded to their trend levels or perhaps a bit above,” he added. “The rate of foreclosure is still high, but much closer to trend levels than to recession peaks.”“Single-family home building has been disappointing this year, constrained by a lack of skilled labor and tight standards for AD&C (acquisition, development, and construction) lending,” Duncan said. “While household formation has picked up since late 2014, all of the net gain in households over the past year was due to renters.”Chan said, “Undoubtedly, much of the [household formation] increase has gone to rentals, which now account for nearly 35 percent of new construction compared to a figure of 20 percent prior to the last recession. The rise in activity has still benefited the traditional single-family home sector, too.”CoreLogic’s Nothaft added to Duncan’s point about lenders’ tightening of credit standards: “Underwriting has been tighter than 15 or 20 years ago and may have slowed the single-family recovery.”What hasn’t benefited the housing sector is wage stagnation. That naturally affects consumer spending, which, as mentioned above, constitutes such a huge chunk of economic activity. Stagnation doesn’t exactly go hand and hand with the traditional home-buying line about the “biggest purchase you’ll ever make.” Duncan reported that annual earnings show no sign of breaking out of the 1.8 to 2.2 percent growth range exhibited during the past three years, compared with more than 3.0 percent gains that were typical prior to the recession.“The current expansion is one of the weakest in history, largely because of relatively weak consumer spending growth,” Duncan said. “In addition to weak wage growth, consumers’ reluctance to incur debt, especially revolving debt, largely credit cards, has restrained spending growth.”Gallup reported that consumer spending in this country showed little movement between 2009 and 2012. The figure began to rise in late 2012 and continued to do so into 2013. Since then, it has hovered at that same level 25 to 28 percent above the post-recession plateau.With an allusion to two much older real estate markets, Nothaft called the recovery “a tale of two tracks.” Rental housing was the first sector to recover coming out of the Great Recession and, on the strength of the prime millennial consumer segment, has remained robust.“Nationally, rental vacancy rates are at their lowest level since the 1980s, and apartment rental construction is at its highest pace in over a quarter century,” he said. “The other tale, however, is the sluggish recovery of single-family and first-time buyers. Single-family construction remains depressed, home-sales turnover remains low, and the homeownership rate has fallen to a 40-year low. Single-family activity levels are at least two years away from resembling a normal pace.”The economy is a global one, as U.S. stock market investors were reminded this past summer during China’s economic slowdown and devaluation of its currency. Oil prices and the strength of the dollar can have major economic effects that ripple through the housing sector.“International developments threaten to slow the already modest pace of U.S. economic growth,” said Duncan of Fannie Mae. “They have also raised challenges to the Fed’s plan to raise rates for the first time in nine years.”What’s Next?There is very little sense of a sugar rush-type mania to the current housing market. Chastened by the sector’s past sins and guided by—or hassled depending on whose perspective one might get—new safeguards such as the CFPB, the housing market appears, for the most part, to chart a bubble-free course.“With prospective homeowners undergoing stricter vetting procedures prior to securing a mortgage, we believe that the increase in housing activity is on much more solid ground today than it was in the prior housing market expansion,” Chan said. “With jobs continuing to be created at a healthy clip and housing prices rising by 4.4 percent according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, prospective homebuyers should feel comfortable that such prices are greatly exceeding the yearly rise in the Consumer Price Index, currently rising by just 0.2 percent.”Nothaft predicts 30-year fixed-rate loan rates to hover between 4 and 4.25 percent around year’s end. Don’t be fooled by flat fourth quarter national home price indexes that are not seasonally adjusted. “Household formations will top a million and be at the best pace since before the Great Recession, keeping rental markets tight,” he added.Editor’s note: This select print feature appears in the November 2015 edition of MReport magazine, available now. Charting the Course
Demand for housing took a hit in February as a shortage in supply of homes resulted in a lesser number of buyers making an offer according to the Redfin Housing Demand Index, a monthly dataset on housing demand that is released by Redfin. The index is based on Redfin customers requesting home tours and writing offers.According to Redfin, the index fell 14.1 percent to 110 points in February, representing the lowest level of homebuyer demand in 11 months and the largest month-over-month decline recorded on the index since it was started in January 2013.On a monthly basis, the seasonally adjusted number of buyers requesting home tours fell by 12.4 percent while the number of buyers making an offer fell 18 percent in February, the data indicated.The demand for homes slipped on an annual basis too, with the demand index declining 6.5 percent from February 2017. Though the number of buyers requesting home tours increased 2.9 percent from the same period last year, the number of buyers actually making an offer fell 20.1 percent.“There are still plenty of people touring homes; there just aren’t enough of homes to satisfy all the buyers who want to make offers,” said Pete Ziemkiewicz, Head of Analytics at Redfin. “We’ve started off each of the past three years with inventory down double-digits from the year before, which has held back buyer activity until enough new listings hit the market to get the offers flowing in the Spring.”In fact, according to Redfin, February marked 33 consecutive months of declining home supply across the 15 metros covered by the Demand index. The data indicated that there were 13.6 percent fewer homes for sale than the year earlier in these areas. Inventory Shortage Cramps Demand for Homes in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, journal, News Home Tours Homebuyers homes Homes for Sale HOUSING Housing Demand Offers Redfin Redfin Housing Demand Index 2018-03-27 Radhika Ojha Share March 27, 2018 586 Views
California citrus: “A lot of unusual dynamics” in … October 15 , 2018 You might also be interested in California: Heatwave to hit several major growing … The 2018-19 California citrus crop looks like it will be larger than last year, but there will likely be some issues with sizing, according to an industry body.California Citrus Commission president Joel Nelsen told Fresh Fruit Portal that it seems Navel oranges would be most heavily affected by a higher proportion of smaller sizes in the wake of the heat wave this summer.But overall he said the season was shaping up well, with good fruit flavor and exterior quality expected across the board.The first harvests will likely start this week, and initial volumes to be available in the market for Halloween in late October.”The big issue for us this year is there seems to be more smaller-sized fruit,” he said.”So that fruit 88s and smaller are going to be more difficult to market – we’re going to have plenty of 56s, 72s … but everything is shaping up well. The external quality looks good, and all the summer heat should bring us good flavored fruit, so there’s room for optimism.”He said the smaller sizing could be across all citrus types this season, but as yet it was unclear.”I know up in the San Joaquin Valley we’ve got an excellent crop of lemons, I know the mandarin fruit looks pretty good right now from a size perspective … So I think it’s mainly been the Navel oranges that’s been affected.”He also pointed out that there has been plenty of surface water growers could access this year.Timing-wise the season is running a little bit later than last year, with a lack of cold nights slowing color development.”You can’t be picking green fruit when it comes to citrus. We haven’t had that many cold nights, so it’s all up to Mother Nature now,” he said.The mandarin harvests should start around the same time as the Navel harvests, beginning with Satsumas, then moving onto Clementines and Murcotts.While the U.S. Navel market is reported to be relatively healthy at the moment, a recent market report by Capespan North America noted the easy peeler market was much slower, with an abundance of Chilean mandarins available.”We’ve seen an explosion of offshore imports into our domestic market and the pricing is chaotic. One could almost argue there has been some dumping in terms of price,” Nelsen said.”There is an oversupply situation, and it’s difficult for the domestic producer to push back on that because our costs are generally more expensive than what the offshore producer has in terms of cost.”But we think that with our consistent quality, meaning both flavor and exterior quality our fruit will knock that stuff off the store shelves.” U.S.: First storm hits California, more heavy rain … U.S.: “Major storms” to strike California, threate …
Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away Comments Share Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation The lockout may still be in full effect and the Arizona Cardinals still don’t have a quarterback, but that isn’t keeping one ESPN writer from saying they could be Super Bowl contenders.That writer is Jeffri Chadiha and he feels if the Cardinals can pull off a deal for Kevin Kolb they’ll be just as good as they were with Kurt Warner under center.Kolb had the misfortune of sustaining a concussion just as Michael Vick was ready to show the world how much he’d evolved as a quarterback in Philadelphia last season. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that means Kolb can’t play. He’s still the same quarterback who spent three seasons learning behind Donovan McNabb and training with the same coaches who helped turn Vick from an electrifying improviser into a complete quarterback. Kolb will have serious value once the Eagles decide to trade him. If he lands in Arizona — which seems to be the team most eager to deal for his services — the Cardinals will be Super Bowl contenders once again.Adding Kolb seems to be a nice fit, but saying they’d be Super Bowl contenders? That seems like a bit of a stretch. Not only will Kolb have to learn a new offensive system, but he’ll have to do it on a truncated timetable. D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Once the lockout is lifted the Cardinals would have to first acquire Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles — something that won’t necessarily be a quick process –, then negotiate a new contract with him and at that point he could start to figure out Ken Whisenhunt’s offensive scheme. Did we mention thanks to the lockout this could all happen within a month of the season starting?Would adding Kolb be a good move for the Cardinals? Yes, but it most likely won’t make them automatic Super Bowl contenders. There are a few other factors that will dictate that. Top Stories
What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Braylon Edwards will be in the NFC West this season. He just won’t be a member of the Arizona Cardinals.According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Edwards will be calling San Francisco home in 2011. Edwards signing with the 49ers ends a week’s worth of speculation that he would become a member of the Cardinals.While one of their targets is off the market, there are still options available. The Chargers’ Malcom Floyd, the Giants’ Steve Smith and the Jets’ Jericho Cotchery are all still on the market and could fill the Cardinals’ need for a No. 2 wide receiver.As was the case with Edwards, anyone they bring in will likely have to accept a one or two year deal as the Cardinals are still hoping to use at least part of their remaining cap space on an extension for Larry Fitzgerald. Top Stories Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation Comments Share Filed to ESPN: Free agent WR Braylon Edwards and the San Francisco 49ers reached agreement on a 1-year, $3.5 million deal.less than a minute ago via UberSocial for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet ReplyAdam SchefterAdamSchefter Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’
Not surprisingly, the future Hall of Famer was not ready to make any declarations as to what his intentions are, but he did shed some light on his thought process.It begins with making sure that when he does walk away, he does so while still being able to play at a high level.“The end is never really pretty for elite athletes; it never looks good, most of the time,” he said. “You watch Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards uniform or see Tony Dorsett playing for the Denver Broncos or Shaquille O’Neal playing for the Boston Celtics — I mean, it’s weird because you’re used to seeing them when they’re at their most dominant stage.”Fitzgerald added Willie Mays, who was a shell of his former self in the final years of his career, as someone who’s end was “not pretty.”“For me, I really want to be able to play and do things at a high level and be able to walk away and still be someone who can play at a high level. That’s something I pride myself on.“I don’t want to be a stealer — I don’t want to steal like that.”The third overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald’s career has taken a handful of turns and featured a good many high points. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Along with being productive, he is also incredibly popular, as evidenced by the deafening cheers from fans as he walked onto the field for the first training camp practice as well as the applause every time he catches a pass.He is also known for his charitable work off the field, as he was named the co-winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for 2016.A 10-time Pro Bowler, Fitzgerald has continued to remain productive even as his role and abilities have changed, and last season his 107 receptions led the league.“When you get to 100, special things happen,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, after noting 80 receptions would constitute a good season. “He embraced (the role change) — he was always a student of the game — but he’s a better student of the game.”If a decline is in Fitzgerald’s future, there has been no evidence to suggest it is nigh.Yet, the 33-year-old does not plan on waiting for that to happen before making a decision, and with his contract up after the 2017 campaign, speculation will surely continue that this could, in fact, be his final season.“I feel good right now,” Fitzgerald said when asked if that would be the case. He added that when he does call it a career, the announcement will not come at a podium with any fanfare or tears. GLENDALE, Ariz. — As he does after nearly every Arizona Cardinals home game, Larry Fitzgerald walked up to the podium to answer some questions.Only this time instead of a game, the team’s all-time leader in receptions, touchdowns and receiving yards spent most of his time prior to the team’s second training camp practice talking about the future.Or, more specifically, his future.Fitzgerald is beginning his 14th NFL season, and after considering retirement following Year 13, naturally, people wonder if this will be his finale. Larry Fitzgerald speaks after Arizona’s second training camp practice Sunday. (Twitter photo/@mikejurecki) Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact 5 Comments Share He will also not be short on post-career options, as he said he has a “plethora” of interests outside of football. He is still passionate about the game, though, saying he enjoys being part of the team.Fitzgerald understands it will not always be this way, and again, he would rather leave on his own terms, like former Lions star Calvin Johnson or San Antonio Spurs great Tim Duncan.“There’s a lot of guys who just for some reason they say they want to move on and it’s time, not because they can’t play or because they were showed the exit,” he said. “Most times, athletes don’t have the chance to retire — they get retired.“So when you do have the chance to retire, I think it’s a privilege and you have to understand that if you hang around too long you will eventually get retired, so I think you have to be honest with yourself and always kind of assess where you are.”Follow Adam Green on Twitter – / 14 “That’s not how I am,” he said. “I’m just one player out of 1,600 in the National Football League and it’s a lot bigger than me. It’s never going to be like that.”Arians said he will have no say in Fitzgerald’s decision, pointing out that retirement is up to every individual player and whether or not the fire to play still burns inside.“I think both he and Carson (Palmer), they’re as young as anybody out there right now,” he said.While Arians said he will not be in Fitzgerald’s ear about it, Fitzgerald said he often turns to other athletes for guidance and advice.He cited Patriots QB Tom Brady, who is still playing, as well as Peyton Manning and Tony Gonzalez, both of whom retired after long, successful careers.The goal is to pick their brains in order to better understand when the time will be right, because while the last thing an athlete generally wants to do is walk away too soon, Fitzgerald also does not want to hang on a year too long.Sticking around to be a fourth option in the passing game who barely resembles the player he has been something he would struggle with.With regular season totals of 1,125 catches, 14,389 yards and 104 touchdowns and another 57 receptions, 942 yards and 10 scores in the postseason already on his resume, whenever Fitzgerald walks away, he will do so as one of the greatest receivers to ever play the game. Top Stories
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Alex Boone (75) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) react during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Boone, who the team signed Sept. 5, was thrust into the starting left guard spot in place of starter Mike Iupati, who missed Week 2 and 3 with a triceps injury.Wetzel took over at left tackle in the season-opener after starter D.J. Humphries went down with an MCL sprain.The Cardinals’ offensive line struggled Monday against Dallas, allowing six sacks and 11 quarterback hits to Carson Palmer, but Wetzel and Boone weren’t the main culprits.“Mostly the right side again. Boone played really, really well,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday. “A.Q. (Shipley) gave up a sack, but he played pretty solid other than that sack. (Right guard Evan) Boehm is still learning. They give up a sack because he pushes (right tackle Jared) Veldheer off his block and then doesn’t block the guy. So, it’s just learning on the run with him.“But, it was mostly the right side. I think Wetzel held his own. He gave up some hits, but overall, he played pretty solid.”The good news, if there is any: Cardinals GM Steve Keim is hopeful Humphries and Iupati could be ready to return in the near future.“I’d like to think that D.J. Humphries will return this week, there’s a good chance Mike Iupati will return this week. So there’s two offensive line starters,” Keim said Tuesday on the Doug & Wolf show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. 17 Comments Share Top Stories Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Alex Boone is expected to miss 3-4 weeks after suffering a partially strained pectoral injury that forced him out of the team’s Monday loss to the Dallas Cowboys, reports 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Mike Jurecki.Additionally, MRI’s taken Tuesday were negative for starting left tackle John Wetzel. He is considered day-to-day with a pectoral injury, reports Jurecki. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact
(AP photos) Though he missed just one regular season game over the past five years, he has remained productive. Coming off a 34-tackle, seven-sack season, he made no promises about snap-counts or sack totals, but he’s excited to play opposite Chandler Jones.Asked what he expects of his production, he said “I guess we’ll see.”Turning things around in for hometown team is priority No. 1.“We didn’t come here to kind of waste time. None of us have time to waste,” Suggs said. “It was just time, time to turn the page.” The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo TEMPE, Ariz. — In very different ways, the Arizona Cardinals’ first two official free agent signings this offseason came unexpectedly. Not that either of linebacker Terrell Suggs or quarterback Brett Hundley didn’t ever dream of playing football for the Cardinals before.Suggs, 36, went to Hamilton High School in Chandler and remained in-state by attending college at Arizona State. Hundley went to Chandler High School before attending UCLA. Ten minutes later, his Instagram mentions blew up as the news spread. There went his surprise.“It’s always one of those surreal things you think about,” Hundley said of joining the Cardinals.Second-year Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen, also a UCLA product, was one of the first players Hundley talked to after agreeing with Arizona. Hundley is already feeling comfortable.“It’s nice coming into a system like this and coming into a system knowing … a lot of different guys,” he said.Hundley has appeared in 15 games over four seasons, playing behind Aaron Rodgers with the Packers from 2015-17 and the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson last year. He’s completed 59 percent of his passes and thrown nine touchdowns to 13 interceptions over his career, but the quarterback expects to compete for a starting role, be it with Rosen or any other quarterback Arizona might add through the draft.“Just competing, I think that’s the name of the game. Even in Green Bay, even in Seattle, my job is to compete. Trying to get the starting role. My job is the same,” he said.While Hundley is hoping to earn his first opportunity to play significant snaps, Suggs felt that change was necessary to prolonging his long career. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling How they ended up signing with Arizona’s NFL franchise this week, however, came with surprise elements.Suggs said he thought he had an 80 percent chance of remaining with the Baltimore Ravens, the only NFL franchise he’s known in 16 NFL seasons. Though they made him what he called a “handsome offer,” his decision to make a change and join a team that went 3-13 last season came down to the final hours.It just felt like the right move.“I felt like if I wasn’t going to be in a Ravens jersey, there was only one place I was going to be playing,” Suggs said Thursday, when he was introduced as a Cardinal wearing a red polo and the team’s cap. “(The Ravens) made me a handsome offer but it was just time. It was just time.Related LinksReport: Former Cardinals pass rusher Markus Golden signing with GiantsArizona Cardinals sign FA pass rusher Terrell SuggsFormer Bears receiver Kevin White signs with CardinalsQB, Arizona native Brett Hundley signs with Cardinals“That team is very special and dear to me, but so is the Valley of the Sun,” he said, adding, “this is home.”Suggs, who has spent his offseasons living in Arizona, had thought about joining the Cardinals before this year. He admits draft day in 2003 was disappointing to him; Arizona needed a pass-rusher but Suggs was drafted 10th by Baltimore after the Cardinals traded down from the sixth overall pick to select receiver Bryant Johnson 17th and pass-rusher Calvin Pace 18th. “At the time, it worked out for both organizations. I was a young man. I had been kind of catered to and spoiled, coming from Hamilton, going to ASU,” Suggs said. “It was kind of time to go away from home and become a man type of thing. It was necessary.“I was disappointed then. Today’s to show it all worked out in the end.”Hundley, 25, knew that Arizona was a possibility when he entered free agency and saw the Cardinals turning to first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense.His three years (2012-15) at UCLA were spent under offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who wasn’t a direct branch off the Air Raid coaching tree until he joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Texas A&M in 2016. But watch Mazzone’s offense at ASU prior to his UCLA stop, or his first season as Arizona Wildcats offensive coordinator in 2018, and it’s clear he coached many of the same principles.Before officially signing with the Cardinals, Hundley was getting off the plane in Arizona to surprise his dad and other family members when he got a call from his agent. The Cardinals were ready to sign him.Though he tried to keep it quiet, that surprise was ruined when reporters caught wind of the addition and ran with it. 2 Comments Share Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact
Go back to the e-newsletter >Marriott Hotels has expanded its portfolio in China with the unveiling of the 268-room Changzhou Marriott Hotel in Jiangsu Province. Changzhou Marriott Hotel occupies the top floors of Changzhou Modern Media Center, the tallest skyscraper in Changzhou.The Marriott Hotel in Changzhou has 268 spacious panorama rooms featuring views of the city skyline. Each room is equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities and amenities ranging from Wi-Fi, luxurious bedding with down comforters and cotton-rich linens to spacious marble bathrooms and 42” flat-panel TV.Changzhou Marriott Hotel offers a total of 1,900 square meters of meeting space with an 800-sqm grand ballroom, a 280-sqm premier ballroom and 11 meeting rooms that can be scaled for various functions and sizes.Hotel guests can enjoy a myriad of local and international culinary delights at five food and beverage outlets. City Bistro features sumptuous buffet as well as an a la carte menu; The Hao Chinese restaurant offers authentic Huaiyang, Cantonese and local cuisine in an elegantly-appointed ambience; Tuscany Grill is an Italian grill room offering steaks, pastas, classic Italian desserts and signature Italian wines; The China Baking Company is a contemporary style bakery; The Lounge is a relaxing place to enjoy locally inspired cocktails, speciality drinks and signature Chinese teas.Changzhou Marriott Hotel features a range of wellness options for travellers including an indoor swimming pool and a 24-hour health centre.Go back to the e-newsletter >
Go back to the e-newsletterQatar Airways has announced a long-term partnership with HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) as the Official Exclusive Airline of the tournament, which is emerging as one of the most exciting cricket events in the region. The inaugural season of the league featuring key Pakistani and international cricketers will take place in Dubai and Sharjah between 4 – 23 February 2016.HBL PSL, featuring five teams comprising of current and former Pakistani cricketing stars, as well as highly skilled and popular international players, is one of the sport’s most awaited global tournaments. After years of planning its launch this month, the tournament, which follows the popular T20 format, brings excitement to a sport which is followed by millions of fans around the world.Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said that the association with HBL PSL was a great opportunity to align the passion for travel with the passion for sport.H.E. Mr. Al Baker said: “We are excited about our association with the HBL Pakistan Super League. Qatar Airways has always championed the connectivity of sport and sporting achievement. In sport, we learn to play and win together, and travel can also teach us and inspire us to achieve together. This partnership aligns Qatar Airways’ vision to go places together with our passengers, and to be a part of their journey.”This sports partnership is the latest in a series of key sponsorships for Qatar Airways, building on its mission to reach new fans through the power and passion of sport. Other partnerships include FC Barcelona, Al-Ahli Football Club, Qatar Open Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships, and IPTL among others. The partnership with PSL also aligns with the vision of the State of Qatar in its commitment to promote sports globally and in the region.Qatar Airways currently operates flights to seven destinations across Pakistan, non-stop from its Doha hub, Hamad International Airport – double daily flights to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, three flights a week to Multan and Faisalabad, four flights a week to Sialkot and daily flights to Peshawar. Karachi was first launched by the airline in 1995, Peshawar in 1998, Lahore in 1999, Islamabad in 2004, and Multan, Faisalabad and Sialkot in 2015.H.E. Mr. Al Baker continued: “Qatar Airways prides itself on being an important presence in the Pakistani market where we have grown our operations rapidly over the past few years, connecting Pakistan to the rest of the world with our direct services to Doha and onwards. The launch of flights to three Pakistani destinations last year – Multan, Sialkot and Faisalabad – helped us expand our reach in Pakistan and we are proud to be flying-in some of the most popular cricketers from Pakistan to the UAE for this season’s matches.”Chairman Pakistan Super League, Mr. Najam Sethi welcomed Qatar Airways and highlighted this as a historic moment. “The HBL Pakistan Super League is a global event and to have one of the world’s leading airlines partner with us is great news. I am sure that HBL PSL fans will be equally delighted with this arrangement. Hopefully, many of our fans will make use of the excellent services that Qatar Airways has to offer as they make their travel plans to watch the first ever HBL PSL.”Go back to the e-newsletter
Go back to the e-newsletterLuxury river cruise company, Pandaw, has announced the details of its new 2017/18 programme, with early booking discounts of up to 20 per cent and no single supplements on a range of departures for cruises booked before 31 May 2016 on departures leaving between July 2017 and March 2018.Pandaw’s fleet of 16 stunning colonial-style river ships offer exceptional all-inclusive value with a choice of unique itineraries in Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Borneo and China, with all meals, shore excursions, crew gratuities and drinks included in the price.In addition, Pandaw is now offering a pre-bookable wine package in all Pandaw destinations giving travellers unlimited house wine with lunch and dinner to the already included local soft drinks, beer and spirits.Excursions ashore are a key part of any Pandaw river expedition, with everything from walks through the countryside and villages to further explorations by speedboat going deeper into jungle or up river depending on the cruise. Wherever possible, cars and coaches are not used. Expert guides accompany guests on these explorations ashore, but guests are also welcome to make individual excursions. To help guests to get around on shore Pandaw offers quality Giant/Trek brand mountain bikes on all ships, and at each river stop the Pandaw crew will advise travellers on the best routes to follow for independent exploration or accompany travellers on their cycle adventures.Pandaw’s recommendations for 2017 include:The Laos MekongA 10-night full board cruise between Vientiane to Chiang Khong, onboard the RV Laos Pandaw.A fascinating expedition connecting Laos’ old French capital of Vientiane with the Chiangrai area of North Thailand with a two-night stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang to explore at its famous wood-carved monasteries. Along the way the cruise passes through dramatic mountainous scenery enabling passengers to marvel at stunning gorges and visit remote jungle tribal villages to see local life first hand.Book now for departures up to March 2018. Prices from USD $3150 per person sharing a main deck cabin.Coastal BurmaA 10-night full board coastal cruise between Rangoon in Burma and Ranong in Thailand, onboard the Andaman Explorer, a classic 1960s motor yacht.The opportunity to explore this little-known coastal region of Southern Burma with visits to the colonial port cities of Rangoon and Moulmein and the opportunity to discover the Mergui Archipelago which is made up of over 800 islands and almost totally unvisited by foreigners since colonial times. Passengers will have the chance to meet some of the local people and learn about their unique cultures, including the Karen culture in the Karen State and the Mokkein, also known as Sea Gypsies.Book now for departures up to March 2017. Prices from USD $3995 per person sharing a double cabin plus port tax of USD 350 per person.Into the true heart of BorneoA seven-night full board cruise through Indonesian Borneo’s Kapuas River System, in the Western Kalimantan region, on board the Kathaw Pandaw.The cruise provides the opportunity to explore the largest river system in Borneo, fringed with rainforest and surrounded by mountain ranges, on a journey of over 500 kilometres. There are visits to parts of Borneo’s rainforest, one of the oldest in the world at over 140 million years’ old, and a chance to observe Borneo’s fascinating wildlife, including the Bornean orangutan, the Borneo elephant, eastern Sumatran rhinoceros and might even spot a Bornean clouded leopard.Book now for departures up to May 2018. Prices from USD $2115 per person sharing a main deck cabin.Go back to the e-newsletter
Go back to the e-newsletterLuxury travel company andBeyond is offering a new package perfect for wine enthusiasts wishing to experience the culture and traditions of the great cities of Chile and Argentina and their most outstanding wine-producing regions.Fine Wines and Great Cities of Chile & ArgentinaThis eight-day, adventure-filled tour, tailor-made for wine enthusiasts and first time travellers to Chile and Argentina, combines the cities of Santiago, Mendoza, and Buenos Aires, with in-depth visits to both countries’ main wine-producing areas, a day of adventure exploring the Andes, which provides a most impressive backdrop, and accommodation in boutique hotels along the way.InclusionsWelcome, farewell and transfers from all airportsSeven night’s accommodation on a fully inclusive basis at andBeyond partner lodges – Viña Vik, The Vines Resort & Spa, Algodon Mansion and The Singular SantiagoMeals and house beverages as specifiedAll transport and road transfersA range of exciting activities including private visits to boutique wineries in both Chile and Argentina’s wine-producing areas and a day of exploring the AndesAdministration fees – where applicable.PriceFrom US$8696 per person sharing.Terms and conditionsItinerary based on a minimum of two guests.Go back to the e-newsletter
The evolution of the Maldivian island dining experience continues apace at Amilla Fushi, with the unveiling of its newest Destination Dining space, the Mystique Garden, and its partnership with Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen.Wreathed in banyans and coconut palms in the lush heart of the island, the hidden Mystique Garden is a reflection of the fresh, creative approach of Amilla’s chefs, offering guests a personalised private dining experience with a dash of signature sparkle.Guests entering the Mystique Garden can let their imagination run wild with a bespoke menu tailored to their personal tastes by a private chef, or delve into the family-style set menus. Options include a seafood barbecue where oysters, prawns, squid and reef fish take centre stage; an Asian-inspired feast featuring Peking duck, Hong Kong noodles and a Royal Tandoori selection; or an Arabian grill with shrimp majboos, lamb ouzi and fish sharmola. The vegetarian barbecue menu includes wild mushroom risotto, barbecue-baked sweet potato and marinated vegetable skewers.The resort also announced a year-long series of pop-up residencies by some of the hottest names in the business, kicking off with a four-stage partnership with Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen at Barolo Grill at Baazaar. Following the success of the May pop-up, three more are confirmed for 16 – 27 October; 19 December 2017 to 10 January 2018; and 23 March to 7 April 2018.London’s Bread Street Kitchen is a lively hangout that uses fresh, seasonal ingredients and delivers globally inspired menus to the high standards expected from a Gordon Ramsay Restaurant. The pop up’s menu at Amilla Fushi will feature signature dishes with Maldivian twists. Grass-fed meats cooked on an open flame grill will sit alongside local ingredients including Red Snapper carpaccio; spicy tuna tartare; Chermoula-spiced prawns, and a compressed Bombay Gin watermelon salad. The cocktail list has also been given a Maldivian makeover, bringing tropical flavours into classic cocktails.