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August 7, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists bid farewell to the Cape Dara Resort, Pattaya

Lucire staff/13.32

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Alan Raga

It’s always hard saying goodbye, especially in tropical temperatures in the 30s, and facing a prospect of the remainder of winter back in New Zealand‚ÄĒbut that’s what the top 25 finalists at Miss Universe New Zealand had to do today. The last breakfast of the tour at the Cape Dara Resort was a fitting farewell to the five-star treatment given by the property. There was a brief moment for some shopping, before the afternoon transfer to Subarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok.
   The finalists began checking in at 3.45 p.m. local time, with their flight arriving in Auckland on Friday morning NZST.
   From there, they will continue competing in the entrepreneurial challenge, raise funds for Variety, the Children’s Charity, and head to the countdown to the final at the Sky City Theatre on September 18, 2014.
   The public can vote for their favourite contestant, either through an online i-vote or text voting: see nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.






Alan Raga

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Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 Ô¨Ānalists visit Pattaya’s orphanage on last full day in Thailand

Lucire staff/3.54

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Alan Raga

On their last full day in Thailand, the Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists remained in Pattaya for their official events, visiting the Sanctuary of Truth, regarded the most beautiful temple in the area and still under construction using timber, and the Central Festival shopping district.
   Five contestants had their photo shoots with Alan Raga, wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear.
   The afternoon programme saw a visit to the Pattaya orphanage, possibly the most moving experience of the tour.
   The Father Ray Foundation, which looks after 850 orphans, disadvantaged and abused children, and children with disabilities, played host for an event which saw two of the young speakers move the finalists to tears. The Foundation’s policy is that no child is turned away. Its website accepts donations in US and Canadian dollars, euros, pounds sterling as well as baht.
   The finalists were greeted by Fathers Peter and Michael, the president and vice-president of the Foundation, and watched three performances. The first was from children from the Father Ray Day Care Centre, who performed a routine about a caterpillar turning into a butterfly; the second was from a student group using wheelchairs from the Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities, and the third was from the choir at the Pattaya Redemptorist School for the Blind who sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine’.
   They laid flowers at the statue of Father Ray, the founder of the NGO, who passed away 11 years ago this month.
   The final, beachside dinner in Pattaya was hosted by Damrong Puttan, a former senator and proprietor of KS Magazine. Afterwards, the finalists returned to the Cape Dara Resort for their final night.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.





















Alan Raga

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August 6, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists arrive in Pattaya, Thailand

Lucire staff/3.45

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Alan Raga

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists, currently touring Thailand, wound up their Bangkok events on Monday night with an event hosted by the Charoen Pokphand Group, a Thai conglomerate set up by Chinese immigrants in the 1920s, at the Grand Mercure Bangkok Fortune hotel.
   On Tuesday, they set off for Pattaya, famous for its beach resorts, 100 km southeast of the capital. Pattaya City put on a welcome and luncheon for the top 25, again well attended by officials, before a visit to Thai Thani, a Thai arts and culture village. Thai Thani, to open on August 8, aims to showcase its cultural parades and activities, and the finalists were given a personal tour by its owner, seeing Thai food from different regions and traditional performances. They also participated in fruit carving under instruction from Thai Thani’s staff. Nigel Godfrey, executive director of Miss Universe New Zealand, presented officials with gifts, including a framed souvenir featuring photographs of all 25 finalists.
   Four contestants had their swimwear shoots Tuesday with photographer Alan Raga, again wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear.
   Accommodation for Miss Universe New Zealand in Pattaya is at the Cape Dara Resort, where they will remain till August 7.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.










Alan Raga

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August 5, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists fulfil their diplomatic mission

Lucire staff/5.51

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Alan Raga

Other than the early 5.30 a.m. call to get ready for a live TV appearance on Channel 5 to 10 million viewers in Thailand, Monday saw the Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists fulfil part of their diplomatic role, visiting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an official function hosted by Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The Thai Ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, was also in attendance, amidst substantial local media interest.
   It was also a day for the New Zealand national anthem, broadcast both on television in the morning and sung at the Ministry in the evening.
   They met the top place holders from Miss Universe Thailand, including Pimbongkod Chankaew, who will represent Thailand at the international competition later this year.
   At the ministerial event, Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey presented his opposite number at Miss Universe Thailand, Surang Prempree, a framed invitation for her titleholder to come to New Zealand later in 2014.
   In addition, four contestants had a very early morning shoot with Alan Raga, again wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear, completed before 8 a.m.
   Channel 5 has since uploaded its clip to YouTube, embedded below.
   Godfrey notes in his interview with Channel 5, as the Thai people are justifiably concerned about their perception in international media, ‘We have seen nothing but safety ‚Ķ For us we could not feel safer, and that certainly is something we will be telling people in New Zealand when we go back.’
   In the afternoon, the top 25 went to Central Embassy, a shopping centre in Bangkok, to try their hand at cooking traditional Thai cuisine at the Issaya Cooking Studio. Their experience has already hit the Thai press, appearing in Thairath, one of the biggest newspapers in the country.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.










Alan Raga

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August 4, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 Ô¨Ānalists experience Thai culture Ô¨Ārst-hand

Lucire staff/9.11

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Alan Raga

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists had a 5.30 a.m. call on Monday, preparing to head to the Channel 5 studios in Bangkok for a 7 a.m. appearance with both the Thai ambassador to New Zealand Noppadon Theppitak and Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey.
   The show they appeared on, where they talked about their experiences in Thailand, reaches 10 million viewers domestically, and another 170 countries worldwide via satellite.
   Sunday’s schedule was somewhat more relaxed, with a morning visit to the Suan Sam Pran Riverside Thai Village to experience making traditional craft and food, as well as learning a few dance steps, while six contestants stayed behind for their swimwear shoots wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co., with photographer Alan Raga.
   It was not until the evening that Thailand Travel & Tourism hosted the finalists at the Sofitel, before they returned to their accommodation at the Hilton Bangkok.
   Monday’s programme, meanwhile, saw the top 25 finalists at the Issaya Cooking Studio, where they tried their hand at cooking, at Bangkok’s Central Embassy shopping centre.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.











Alan Raga


Friendship to Friend Trip

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August 3, 2014

A full day in Bangkok for Miss Universe New Zealand 2014‚Äôs top 25 Ô¨Ānalists

Lucire staff/5.33

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Alan Raga

The second day of the finalists’ retreat for Miss Universe New Zealand 2014, and the first full day in Thailand, was packed with activities for the top 25 around Bangkok.
   Most went for a morning visit to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha, while photographer Alan Raga began the swimwear shoots for three remaining contestants, with swimwear from Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co.
   Lunch was served at Bangkok’s Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, while a further three had their shoots done in the afternoon.
   The contestants were subject to immense media coverage, continuing to highlight what the Thai ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, sees as contributing positively to the diplomacy between the two countries.
   A packed evening was lined up for all 25 at Asiatique, the Riverfront, an open-air mall featuring a night bazaar and, currently, Muay Thai Live‚ÄĒthe Legend Lives, a show performed at the state-of-the-art theatre at the venue nightly except Sunday. It chronicles the history of Thai kickboxing over the last three centuries.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.




Alan Raga


Muay Thai Live

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July 11, 2014

For Every Minute débuts mid-winter merino line; Queenstown prepares for Clicquot in the Snow

Lucire staff/2.22

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Jack Yan

For Every Minute held its mid-winter VIP evening at Coco Wellington last night, with co-founder Kenzy Cheeseman holding court, and an even more lavish spread of macarons, guimauves and madeleines from French Cancan, teas from Harney & Sons, wine from Nautilus and water from Waiwera put on for guests. Ruth Armishaw performed live jazz numbers, and neighbouring Woodstock florist provided the flowers, giving the event a classier ambiance.
   As with For Every Minute’s previous event, models, and Cheeseman and Armishaw, were dressed in the company’s silk, loungewear, pyjamas and sleepwear, but there were more giveaways, including beauty treatment vouchers and silk eye masks.
   Cheeseman used the event to d√©but For Every Minute’s mid-winter merino line, which to our eyes looked even more comfortable than the silk designs.
   In other antipodean news, Best Western has announced that Harley‚ÄďDavidson riders will have more travel perks across its 67 participating Australia and New Zealand properties.
   HOG members who sign up to Best Western Rewards will be automatically upgraded to Platinum status, with 10 per cent bonus points on each stay, a welcome gift on arrival, complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late
check-out when available, as well as extra 10 per cent off their accommodation.
   Best Western International and Harley‚ÄďDavidson extended their global partnership for three years in 2013.
   Finally, Veuve Clicquot will hold its Clicquot in the Snow celebration from July 30 to August 3 in Queenstown, New Zealand.
   The event, which has been held in Tignes and Aspen, sees Queenstown host everything from the Clicquot brunches at Pier 19, Steamers’ Wharf, from July 30 to 31, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (NZ$35), with a special session with guest DJ Vincent Hanna on August 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the Clicquot Snow Bar at the Coronet Peak main deck (10 a.m.‚Äď4 p.m.), where guests can get a bespoke menu matched with a flute of Veuve Clicquot and a complimentary pair of Clicquot touch-screen gloves; the Clicquot d√©gustation dinner on August 1 at the Wakatipu Grill at the Hilton (NZ$150; call 64 3 450-9400 to book); an evening with Kathryn Wilson and Veuve Clicquot, where the designer will showcase her spring‚Äďsummer 2014‚Äď15 shoe collection at the Heliworks Hangar on August 2 (NZ$50, see www.kathrynwilson.com for tickets); the after-party at the Bunker on July 31 from 9 p.m.; and the late-night sessions at Barmuda from on August 1 from 9 p.m.









Jack Yan

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June 7, 2014

Destination datelines: Catalina, Paris, Gurgaon, Punta Ala

Lucire staff/13.57

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©1964 Bettmann/Corbis


¬©1966 Hulton‚ÄďDeutsch/Corbis

Top The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night, 1964. Above George Harrison marries Pattie Boyd in 1966.

Catalina Island, California
Hard to believe it’s been a half-century since the première of A Hard Day’s Night. To commemorate the date, the Catalina Island Museum will mount a special 50th anniversary screening of the legendary movie starring the Beatles on Sunday, July 6 in Avalon’s Casino Theatre at 7 p.m. Lucire loves the vintage déco interior. On hand to take questions will be author Pattie Boyd (right), who you can surely interrogate about her life and times as wife of George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and her best-selling memoir, Wonderful Tonight. Pattie exudes energy and personality, and loves to laugh. Watch for her in a famous scene which takes place on a train: she’s the blonde girl in a school uniform, who flirts with George.


Paris, France
A new website has launched this week which could simplify the task of finding lodging in this capital city: www.myboutiquehotel.paris/fr/. It looks like a pretty cleverly designed and attractive site, listing over 250 boutique hotels. You can select by price, star rating, location, nearby landmarks, areas of interest, but the kicker is the promise of a real live human being person available on the phone to assist you. We’d be interested to learn of anyone’s experiences with this site. Good luck with your launch!

Gurgaon, Haryana, India
While the city, population 20 million, stews under a layer of world-class pollution (mostly the by-product of wood fires), the problem of traffic compounds the subject. Gurgaon excels in congestion, and this week some like-minded technology companies are rolling out Folksvagn, a cheekily-named ride-sharing solution in the Palam Vihar and Sector 22‚Äď3 area. It‚Äôs also a vote of support for Gurgaon start-ups like our friends at Nagarro, one of a group deploying modern mindsets in the interest of transforming urban mobility with programmes like this. If you‚Äôre looking for a sustainable and socially responsible ride to work in Gurgaon, this may be your answer.

Punta Ala, Italy
This week, Baglioni reopens La Vela, a classic architectural monument originally known as a swinging disco in 1965. You can see its signature roofline on the very exclusive beach here. A glorious renovation transforms the space into a 160-seat restaurant and spa. Ideally situated among a cypress grove, with astounding views of the nearby islands Elba, Capraia and Pianosa, the airy infinity terrace promises to be an ideal location for sunset beverages and prime people-watching. GM Luigi Magnani promises ‘a soft club’ experience for evenings.‚ÄĒStanley Moss, Travel Editor


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