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Dan Andrews government gave $500k to Chinese-owned resort as part of hotel quarantine program

The Daniel Andrews government gave more than $500,000 to a Chinese-owned resort as part of its bungled hotel quarantine program, despite it never having housed a single returned traveller. 

The Sands Golf Resort Torquay received payment from the state government for 55 rooms costing $150 per room a night between March 29 and May 29, with taxpayers footing the $511,500 bill.

But the resort, owned by the Walden Cloud Group, went into administration on July 11 – owing the Australian Taxation Office over $990,000. 

The Sands isn’t the only hotel to receive money from Premier Daniel Andrews despite having never housed any returned travellers. 

The Victorian government forked out millions of dollars worth of retainer contracts to at least a dozen other hotels, The Australian reports. 

The Sands Golf Resort Torquay (pictured) received payment from the state government for 55 rooms costing $150 per room per night between March 29 and May 29, with taxpayers footing the $511,500 bill

The Sands Golf Resort Torquay (pictured) received payment from the state government for 55 rooms costing $150 per room per night between March 29 and May 29, with taxpayers footing the $511,500 bill

But the resort, owned by the Walden Cloud Group, went into administration on July 11 - owing the Australian Taxation Office over $990,000

But the resort, owned by the Walden Cloud Group, went into administration on July 11 – owing the Australian Taxation Office over $990,000

The Sands isn't the only hotel to receive money from Premier Daniel Andrews despite having never housed any returned travellers

The Sands isn’t the only hotel to receive money from Premier Daniel Andrews despite having never housed any returned travellers

Aly Boland, a former employee at The Sands, said resort staff knew the hotel wasn’t coping financially when the government awarded it a hotel quarantine contract. 

Ms Boland said employees would ‘hold their breaths’ every week to see if they would even get paid.  

‘People asked me why I was sticking around, and to be honest when we got the hotel quarantine contract, I thought, “Well at least there’s money coming in so we’ll hopefully get paid”,’ she said. 

‘There was no training, nothing. A month went by and then there was another contract, but they still didn’t pay our super, so I guess that money just went to China. Who knows?

‘I’m just a little bit taken aback by the fact that the government gave $500,000 to a company that clearly was being investigated by the ATO.’

Ms Boland also claims the company still owes her $7000 in superannuation and entitlements. 

Another employee said if anyone bothered to look over the hotel’s books, they would have realised how much the Walden Cloud Group owed to creditors. 

According to ASIC documents, the Walden Cloud Group’s directors are Chinese-born Guoxin Zhou, who lives in Torquay, and Yang Sun, also born in China, who lives in Sydney’s southwest. 

The resort had also been sanctioned by Australian Border Force for visa fraud less than a week before it received the first hotel quarantine contract from Mr Andrews. 

According to ASIC documents, the Walden Cloud Group's directors are Chinese-born Guoxin Zhou, who lives in Torquay, and Yang Sun, also born in China, who lives in Sydney's southwest

According to ASIC documents, the Walden Cloud Group’s directors are Chinese-born Guoxin Zhou, who lives in Torquay, and Yang Sun, also born in China, who lives in Sydney’s southwest

The resort had also been sanctioned by Australian Border Force for visa fraud less than a week before it received the first hotel quarantine contract from Mr Andrews

The resort had also been sanctioned by Australian Border Force for visa fraud less than a week before it received the first hotel quarantine contract from Mr Andrews

A spokesman for the Andrews government said

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Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd. to manage the historic 18-century, Ran Baas part of Qila Mubarak, Patiala as a Heritage hotel

The Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in Punjab has selected Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Limited to upgrade and operate Ran Baas, part of Qila Mubarak, in Patiala as a heritage hotel.

Built by the first Maharaja of Patiala Baba Ala Singh in 1763, Qila Mubarak stands in a 10-acre complex in the heart of Patiala city. The sprawling complex houses the Qila Androon (inner fort) or main palace, Ran Baas the guesthouse and the Darbar Hall. The majestic fort is an outstanding example of a synthesis of the late Mughal and Rajasthani architectural styles.

Ran Baas was the guest house for the Maharaja of Patiala’s guests and will now be developed into a 28-room luxury boutique hotel reflecting The Park Hotels’ design ethos, and its quintessential hospitality experiences. The palace will have an all-day dining, bar, spa, and multiple indoor and outdoor banqueting spaces with The Park’s Anything But Ordinary services.

Read: 10 Heritage Homes to Book Right Now

“I am delighted that we will bring Ran Baas back to life as a jewel-like heritage hotel under the Park Collection. Punjab is special for us as the roots of Apeejay Surrendra Group are in Jalandhar. We are thankful to the government of Punjab for entrusting us to partner with them to make Ran Baas a showcase for Punjab, nationally and internationally,” said Priya Paul, Chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd. 

“We are honoured to add the iconic Ran Baas to our collection of heritage hotels which include The Denmark Tavern and The Park Chettinad. We are equally pleased that Zone by The Park, Amritsar would open in the state within a few months to cater to a new audience. We look forward to more openings and growth in the region,” added Vijay Dewan, Managing Director, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd. 

The Park Collection has hotels in Goa (The Park Baga River and The Park Calangute), and heritage hotels, The Denmark Tavern in Serampore, and The Park Chettinad.

Ran Baas hotel is slated to open in 2022, post-restoration.

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Tattooing has been a part of travel for centuries. Its history is complicated.

In today’s travel guides to Japan, tattoos are generally only mentioned in the context of places where tourists should be prepared to cover them up, such as gyms, public pools and bathing houses known as onsens. A century ago, it was a very different story.

Guidebooks, like Basil Hall Chamberlain’s 1893 “Handbook for Travellers in Japan,” feature ads for fine art galleries that double as tattoo parlors; you could pick up a piece of Japanese pottery while getting a more permanent souvenir. In “Vacation Days in Hawaii and Japan,” published in the early 1900s, Philadelphia-based writer Charles M. Taylor Jr. devotes multiple pages to a meeting with Hori Chiyo, an artist who claimed to have tattooed the British princes Albert Victor and George (the future King George V).



a group of people in a room: Yoon Park, a tattoo artist at Daredevil Tattoo, works on a client's leg on a Monday afternoon. Daredevil Tattoo opened in 1997, when tattooing was legalized in New York City.


© Sarah Blesener/For The Washington Post
Yoon Park, a tattoo artist at Daredevil Tattoo, works on a client’s leg on a Monday afternoon. Daredevil Tattoo opened in 1997, when tattooing was legalized in New York City.

In Japan at the time, tattoos were seen as a sign of degeneracy. They were used to brand criminals — and for those criminals to then cover up their brands. As the country opened up to the West for the first time, the emperor outlawed the art, seeing it as antithetical to modernity. Ironically, tattooing for tourists remained legal — and, as Chamberlain wrote in a 1905 travel guide, the Japanese take on the art was considered the champagne of tattooing: “an art as vastly superior to the ordinary British sailor’s tattooing as Heidsieck Monopole is to small beer.”

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Today, tattoos are popular among travelers, as ways to pay homage to a place (e.g., Japanese kanji script, an iconic building) or to traveling as a way of life (e.g., a compass, a map of the world). But how far back does the practice go? The history of tattooing as a way to mark travels is hard to pin down. But there is something that most scholars agree on: The most common origin story is wrong, and the meaning of tattoos isn’t always clear cut.

Tracing back to the Holy Land

Yes, Capt. James Cook sailed the Pacific Ocean in the 18th century, and many of his crewmen may have received tattoos from the Polynesian people they encountered along the way. Sometimes there may have even been an overlap in the reasons British and Polynesian sailors got tattoos: protection, for example. The letters “H-O-L-D F-A-S-T” tattooed across the knuckles was thought to save a sailor when letting go of a rope was a matter of life and death.

But the common narrative that those sailors were the first people to bring tattoos back to Europe isn’t true. Rather, according to some, it’s a story rooted in some of the same instincts that make people get tattooed on their travels today.

When can Americans travel to Europe again? We asked 4 insiders.

“There’s a misconception in certain Western cultural memory that tattooing is sort of something

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New hotel opening in downtown Flint is part of city’s rebirth, officials say

FLINT, MI — After two decades of sitting vacant, one of Flint’s tallest and most prominent buildings is reopening to serve a new purpose for the community and its visitors.

The Hilton Garden Inn, a $37.9 million, 11-story hotel in the downtown area, is taking room reservations beginning Monday, Nov. 2. Sauce Italian American Kitchen and Bar, a restaurant attached to the Hilton, also opens to the public on Monday as well.

A media event is set for Friday, Oct. 30, to show off the three-year project, and community leaders and nearby business owners say the new hotel will add to a resurgence of the downtown area.

“Having this new hotel downtown is a critical part of the rebirth or continued rebirth of the city of Flint,” said to Ridgway H. White, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

“I think one of the most important things to realize is that this is a large economic development driver, so not only is it creating jobs at the property itself, but it allows businesses to create more business, have sales calls, that further stimulates the economy for Flint and Genesee County,” he said.

The hotel transforms the former 1920s-era Genesee County Savings Bank building, 110 W. Kearsley St., which also once housed the Flint Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a real estate firm. Plans to redevelop the building began in 2017.

Related: Get a look at historic downtown Flint bank being renovated as hotel

The 148,470-square-foot building’s architectural style is Italian Renaissance Revival with Art Deco elements added in 1947.

The ground floor of the building, which was once the grand banking hall, has been converted into the 2,500-square-foot Sauce Italian American Kitchen. The original bank vault itself will be used as a private dining area. The hotel also features a seasonal roof deck with a bar called Simmer Rooftop Lounge as well as a meeting and banquet center, according to the hotel’s website.

White said the amenities bring new life to downtown.

“I think Flint is on a great trajectory forward. Obviously, we continue to have our challenges on a number of items, but this hotel is being developed because there’s demand that people want to stay in Flint when they do business, to visit family and friends,” White said.

John Saites is part owner of nearby Churchill’s Food and Spirits, 340 Saginaw St. He said he and other community members are excited to see new life in a building that sat vacant for decades.

“It’s great expansion for all of downtown Flint. Actually, it’s something that we haven’t had since the early ’80s, so for downtown Flint to offer a hotel right in the heart of the city is amazing to have back again,” Saites said. “It’s going to actually help out all the businesses that are located in the downtown district, so between retail shops to bars and restaurants that are located downtown. It’s really going to give a

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Circa’s staggered opening of hotel, casino now part of Derek Stevens’ legacy

Circa owner Derek Stevens felt like he was in a bind when COVID-19 was discovered on the downtown job site and one of his contractor’s construction workers was infected with the disease.

Stevens was racing to complete the 480-foot tower and many of its 777 hotel rooms and suites for a December opening.

New social distancing requirements imposed on the job site suddenly put the construction timetable at risk.

Among the new protocols established was to allow a maximum of four construction workers in the industrial elevator used to transport workers to the upper floors of the construction site.

These aren’t the swift hotel-finished elevators that can whisk passengers 35 floors in a matter of seconds. They’re huge cages that lumber skyward, large enough to carry heavy equipment as well as workers.

With the limited capacity of the elevators, Stevens suddenly discovered he wouldn’t be able to put all of his workers in place as planned with trips up the tower taking three or four minutes — and trips down taking just as much time. That many workers needing that many trips would cause a big problem.

Stevens was mindful of a Nevada Revised Statute affecting gaming properties in Clark and Washoe counties.

The law, within NRS 463.1605, basically says that a nonrestricted casino license — the big ones involving casino resorts — must be attached to a hotel or have some other 24-hour amenities. A hotel is defined as a destination with more than 200 rooms.

Stevens was in the clear with more than 500 hotel rooms opening in December but stuck with the dilemma of finishing enough hotel rooms and the rest of the resort.

Stevens opted to take the problem to Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Morgan with the hope of getting a waiver to the requirement. Fortunately, Stevens didn’t need to get a waiver, as he was in luck.

When Stevens was assembling parcels of land for what will be known as Circa, he first acquired the Las Vegas Club, the Girls of Glitter Gulch adult club and Mermaids.

Each had separate gaming entitlements that Morgan determined needed no further action from the Control Board.

“The parcels that were combined to create Circa had grandfathered provisions,” Morgan said. “So, as a legal matter they were able to have a staggered opening and not have everything open at the same time.”

So, despite some jurisdictional confusion, the end goal will be accomplished.

Circa will open first with a VIP party on Tuesday night, followed by a public opening at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

The casino, the sportsbook, the five restaurants, Stadium Swim and the rooftop Legacy Club should all be ready to go.

Construction workers will continue on the hotel rooms on the top seven floors, and many will be ready for business in December.

And Derek Stevens will have left his mark on downtown Las Vegas for the fourth time.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at [email protected] or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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