Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hot Property Foxtel profile

Hot Property follows the fortunes of buyers, sellers, and renovators negotiating the challenges of the real estate game. From first home buyers to empty nesters, young singles looking to rent or DIY renovators, each week we join households around the country experiencing the joys and disappointments of creating their own domestic dreams. Presented by iconic Australian actor Michael Caton, Hot Property is as much about the people as it is about the real estate.

The series follows the trial and tribulations of going to auction; the race against the clock for a dad trying to add on a second storey before his wife gives birth to baby number three; three inspiring women share their secrets to real estate success; and there are helpful tips throughout. Join Michael as he shares in the excitement of sales as well as the disappointment.

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Harry M Miller is on the move again - 30th July 2009 - News Limited

Harry M. Miller and his partner, piemaker Simmone Logue, have listed their Potts Point apartment for sale, fuelling rumours - incorrect - that the couple are separating.

The couple want $3.5 million for their two-bedroom 1920s garden apartment in the prestigious Manar building.

Yesterday a representative for the couple confirmed the promoter and the businesswoman remained together but had chosen to spend more time living at their two rural escapes.

Miller has a retreat at Wombarra near Wollongong to which he and Logue go most weekends. Logue has a farm at Oberon, where they run horses.

Miller has listed his apartment with two agents, Jennine Leonarder-Collins and Di Jones, and is hoping to double the money he paid for the property in 2006.

He bought the then three-bedroom apartment for $1.95 million and, claim architectural sources, has spent almost $1 million converting it into an opulent two-bedder.

While daughter Lauren Miller Cilento said Miller worked three days a week, sources suggested the sale was a sign 75-year-old Miller was ready to retire.

Manar, according to an online listing of the apartment, was "sensitively contemporised to retain the ambience of splendid Georgian apartments in Paris, London and New York".

Last month Miller and Palm Island poet and singer friend Maggie Walsh appeared in these pages after being photographed dining together Darlinghurst's Tropicana Caffe.

Maybe Miller has decided it's time to give the big smoke a rest.


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NT sends casino earnings sky-high - 29th July 2009

Improved earnings at its Darwin casino has seen SkyCity Entertainment Group boost its profit forecasts for the last financial year.

Shares in the trans-Tasman company rose more than 7 per cent, up 16c to $2.46, as SkyCity upgraded its profit estimate to be between $113 million and $116 million for the year to June 30, up from $99 million to $106 million the previous year.

The company pointed to improved earnings at Darwin's Mindil Beach casino, Adelaide and Auckland for the rosy forecast.

Earnings are subject to an external audit with the full annual profit result due out on August 26.

"It has been a very pleasing fourth quarter and second half, with our operations in New Zealand and Australia performing above expectations," chief executive officer Nigel Morrison said in a statement sent to the stock exchange yesterday.

The Darwin Casino recently underwent a major redevelopment of its gaming room floor.

It also added a new upmarket restaurant - Il Piatto - and the popular Sandbar.

Mr Morrison said the Adelaide Casino was also a key performer underpinning improved results.

"It was coming off a very low base but we're very pleased with Adelaide's performance," he said.

"We're very pleased we kept Adelaide and we think it's got great potential."

The company expects its underlying and reported earnings, (EBITDA) for the 2009 year to be approximately $300 million.

SkyCity will update shareholders and investors with details of its 2009 result on August 26.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Google sparks real estate listings brawl, by Julian Lee - The Sydney Morning Herald - 27th July 2009

Google is facing the greatest challenge yet to its might in Australia as two of its largest media customers threaten to pull their business over the internet company's decision to enter the real estate listings market.

Fairfax Media and News Limited are independently weighing up whether to pull the millions of dollars they collectively spend on buying key search terms on Google following the latter's decision to list properties for sale on Google Maps.

Domain, which is owned by Fairfax, and, which is controlled by News, dominate the market for properties being searched for on the internet and the $144 million of classified advertising revenue that goes with it.

What had been a symbiotic relationship between Google and its media partners in Australia has been showing signs of strain.

In April News Corporation's chairman, Rupert Murdoch, fired the first shot, accusing Google of not paying the media for content that it was using to aggregate and sell ads against.

Google began sourcing listings from real estate aggregators such as Homehound and My Home this month and opened up the service to allow real estate agents to list their properties free on Google Maps.

Greg Ellis, the chief executive of REA Group - which operates - welcomed competition in the marketplace but added: "It will be interesting to see how Google reconciles its ability to encourage companies to purchase Adwords, buy Google Maps and DoubleClick services and then compete with those companies who currently or intend to buy these services.

"It's a discussion that should occur across the Australian internet landscape, not just within REA. We are reviewing our options. No decision has yet been made."

Lloyd Whish-Wilson, the head of Fairfax's NSW metropolitan publishing, which includes Domain's online and print properties, and the publisher of the Herald, released a short statement. "We are looking at our options at the moment. We are obviously not keen to support a would-be competitor with our revenue," it said.

At stake is a market that grew 38 per cent last year and that the analyst Frost & Sullivan forecasts will grow 23 per cent this year.

Nielsen reckons nearly half a million people a day visit property websites, with realestate and Domain accounting for nearly 90 per cent of that traffic.

But almost a third of their traffic comes via Google, Hitwise reports, which raises the question of who needs whom more? Google has 92 per cent of the search advertising market and this year is expected to book revenues close to $1 billion.

Simon Baker, chief executive of the online classified marketing specialist Classified Ad Ventures, said Google would struggle to get more than half the agents listing their properties on Google Maps. It would also find it difficult to ensure that listings were up to date and free of scammers who might target Australian property hunters with bogus listings.

Mr Baker, a former chief executive of REA, said Google might be shooting itself in the foot. Its real estate service risks undermining its core business model, which relies on selling advertising against internet search queries.

"Google is moving from being a search engine to a portal," he said. "Instead of sending you to other websites - which have paid money to be there on its listings - it is now serving up the end data itself. That then raises the question: why would you need to go to the other sites and why would they then pay Google money [for search key words].

"Google has opened up a Pandora's box of questions."

A spokeswoman for Google, Lucinda Barlow, said it had received "great feedback" about its site to date and would like to work more closely with Fairfax and REA to take its listings - which both groups are refusing to do.

"We are partners and we would like to discuss this [issue]," she said. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Ravesi’s awarded National AHA “2009 Best Bar Presentation and Service (Metro)”

23rd July 2009

A year after their win for Hotel Bar of the Year in 2008, A-List Party Playground Ravesi’s has won Best Bar Presentation and Service (Metro) in 2009, by the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) – at the National Awards for Excellence held Friday night, 17 July 2009.

Won jointly with The Langham, Aria Bar and Lounge in Melbourne, Ravesi’s is located at the heart of Sydney’s most alluring stretch of sand; home to Bondi’s beautiful people, fresh from the surf locals, and curious guests from across Australia and the world. Fusing together Sydney’s most famous beachside bar with stylish accommodation, casually elegant dining, and glamorous nightlife; in a seductively Sydney combination unique to Bondi’s hottest Hotel.

Ravesi’s General Manager Troy Graham, a local Bondi boy from way back, is thrilled with the win. “It’s fantastic to be recognised by the industry for the second time - especially in a national capacity.”

“Ravesi’s iconic beachside elegance and our management and staff’s attention to every detail makes Ravesi’s the perfect place to enjoy Sydney’s most incredible beachside views; backed of course, by a brilliant team of top-line hospitality professionals dedicated to the very best in service and standards. Ravesi’s has been committed to ensuring guests enjoy the very best Sydney has to offer.” he says.

A delight in any season, Ravesi’s offers an alluring winter respite, with deliciously cosy wines to warm, world-class cocktails and premium spirits. From glorious summer days to glittering and glamorous winter nights Ravesi’s casually elegant surrounds combine Bondi’s beachside cool with Sydney’s shimmering nights. A place where Bondi’s locals, A-listers, and celebrities can and do play on; Ravesi’s is at the center of Bondi’s alluring life, from day and well into the night.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Rooms for high-rollers, by Bruce Elder - The Sydney Morning Herald - 4th July 2009

Bruce Elder finds the casino's apartments are large, impressive and pricey.

Star City, Saturday night: is it, as some would have it, Sydney's 21st-century answer to William Hogarth's Gin Lane? Certainly, the whole place glows with the gaudy, luminous power of a thousand poker machines and the glassy-eyed punters are driven by the siren call of Lady Luck.

Groups of young women teeter on impossible heels at tables where dice are thrown and cards are dealt. Young men, all tats and gel, move in packs and, hunched over the machines, serious gamblers press buttons and dream of jackpots.

For a unique view of a sliver of humanity and the city's only legal casino, a night at Star City is worthwhile. Sure, you can take in a musical at the Lyric Theatre, wander across to Darling Harbour, enjoy the best of Chinatown or, with a little extra effort, make your way to the Opera House and Circular Quay. But for action and fascination, the casino is a magnet on a Saturday night. Sydney at play. Sydney trying to break the economic cycle and win a fortune. Sydney as the gleaming Emerald City.

But brace yourself for some of the highest hotel and apartment rates in Sydney.

Star City has two accommodation options: the apartment section and the hotel section. And, if you want to engage in nuances, it also has a new super-whammy section with spa baths and televisions to watch while you bubble away.

If you stay in the hotel section, which is at the western side of the complex, you can check in at reception and never have to venture anywhere near the gaming tables.

If you opt to stay in the apartment section, you will walk past the gaming area and can, if you are prepared to pay a little extra, get a view to the city skyline.

We book what is described as the "Superior City BB" with a room description promising "city skyline views". We end up gazing over Ultimo and Glebe.

None of these accommodation options are cheap. According to, the full rate for Star City rooms ranges from $580 for a Superior Pyrmont BB (which, I guess, is where we end up) to $990 for the Star Suite Escape.

Fortunately, with the website's help, I find that at the time I book, those $580 rooms can be secured for $265 during the week and $365 on a Saturday night. And a Superior City BB, which has a full rate of $610, can be had for $285 during the week and $385 on Saturdays. The new Star City Suite (full rate $990) drops to $595 during the week and is available for $745 on Saturday night.

So what do we get for $385 or, if you want to impress your friends, "What did we get when we stayed in a $610 room last Saturday night?"

The view from Room 956 is not of the city skyline but from our large balcony we can sit and watch the sun set over Anzac Bridge. The two-bedroom apartment is huge (and so are the two flat-screen televisions) and dressed in the popular decorator colours of stone and chocolate. The beds are comfortable: a king size in the main bedroom, a queen in the second bedroom.

The kitchen is designed for a stay-in evening, with a full-sized fridge, stove, microwave and decent-sized dining table. And there is a big laundry with washing, drying and ironing facilities.

Breakfast is included in the tariff but, for an extra $10 a person, we ascend from the Garden Buffet with its bain maries and hundreds of patrons to the more rarefied ambience of the Astral Restaurant on the 17th floor. It has tablecloths, which is what everyone needs for breakfast, and superb city views. On the menu is an excellent mix of bain marie and freshly cooked items and Toby's coffee. And the 24-hour valet parking for $26 adds a high-life indolence to the experience.

We had planned to indulge in the new Star Suites, part of the hotel's recent upgrade, but at $990 full rate (or $745 on Saturday night and even $595 midweek on, the suites are beyond Traveller's budget.

Even so, we're impressed by the quality of Star City's as yet unrefurbished hotel and apartments, which are ideal places to stay if you want to give your spare cash to a croupier or enjoy a musical.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.


Star City

Address 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont.

The verdict A large and comfortable hotel and apartment complex close to the city centre and ideal for those planning to enjoy the Star City facilities.

Price Rooms from $580-$990 a night but has deals as low as $199 midweek to $745 for a suite on Saturday night. Our two-bedroom apartment was $385 on a Saturday night.

Bookings Phone 1800 700 700, see

Getting there Close to public transport, at the north-western end of Darling Harbour.

Wheelchair access Yes.

While you're there Visit the excellent Maritime and Powerhouse museums and enjoy the attractions of Darling Harbour. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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High-rollers fail to pitch at City of Dreams, by Vanda Carson - The Sydney Morning Herald - 4th July 2009

The City of Dreams, James Packer's latest Macau casino, has disappointed the market in its first month of trading with its lack of VIP and mass-market gamblers and its lower than expected market share.

Melco Crown Entertainment, the joint-venture company between Mr Packer's Crown and Lawrence Ho's Melco, said yesterday that rolling chip volume was $US1.94 billion ($2.4 million) in June. Rolling chip turnover is a key measure of casino profitability. It measures the number and value of chips gambled by VIPs, who are the City of Dreams's most valued and desired customers.

Shares in Melco Crown, which trade on Nasdaq, fell 3 per cent on the news on Thursday US time to close at $US4.55.

Before it opened last month, Mr Ho conceded there was a lot riding on the success of the project. He told Bloomberg it was "crucial" that the casino defied the global recession and had a successful opening.

"We know the pressure is on us," Mr Ho said. "The success of it will have major implications."

The casino is opening in the midst of both the worst global slump since World War II and as the Chinese Government tightens restrictions on the number of visits its citizens can make.

The Chinese enclave's gaming revenues have been hampered by soft economic conditions, a tighter credit environment and travel restrictions.

Across the whole of Macau revenues in June were 17 per cent lower than a year ago. Revenues also fell in May, when they dropped by 10 per cent.

The City of Dreams figures released yesterday also implied the casino had only grabbed an estimated 7 per cent share of the Macau market, below initial expectations of at least 10 per cent, and analyst consensus expectations of 14 per cent.

However, having only traded for a month, it is still too early to tell whether it will be a success.

Melco Crown Entertainment also owns a second casino in Macau, the Altira, which has a market share of about 8 per cent. Together the two casinos have about 15 per cent of the market.

Analysts are expecting the City of Dreams to post pretax earnings of $US300 million in the first year, less than the $US500 million a year its neighbouring casino, the Venetian, has been generating.

Yesterday the company emphasised that the trend of chip turnover throughout the month across its 127 VIP tables was positive and volumes were improving, with the casino taking 38 per cent of revenues in VIP tables in the final week of June.

The casino also makes money from gamblers who bet smaller amounts than high rollers.

These gamblers dropped about $US100 million on the City of Dreams's 376 mass market tables in June, which equates to about $1400 to $1600 daily net win per table. This is below the industry average of $US3000 per table. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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