Luxury in Australia Tailor-Made holidays

| July 31, 2009

In June 2009 Cox & Kings’ Australasia Product Manager Aaron Jennings travelled to Australia with Tourism Australia.

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It wasn’t all that long ago that the word luxury and Australia were an awkward and unlikely coupling. Times are changing though and recent years have seen a surge in luxury properties sprouting up in some of the most spectacular regions of Australia. The focus of my trip was to visit the upcoming, new and established luxury properties and destinations across four Australian states.

Arriving at Brisbane airport in the comfort of Qantas’ business class, the first thing to do was transfer to a helicopter to take us to our hotel. Not quite as extravagant as it might sound, the hotel in question wasn’t just a few minutes drive away in the city but rather nestled deep in the Queensland hinterland over 90 minutes drive or a 20 minute spectacular helicopter trip, passing Brisbane’s skyline and hovering up into the surrounding picturesque mountains.

Approaching by helicopter, our hotel - Peppers Spicers Peak certainly had the WOW factor. A solitary building nestled on top of a mountain surrounded by the World Heritage listed Main Range National Park.

An ideal couples retreat Peppers Spicers Peak is a perfect hideaway for the beginning of your trip to stay and get over jet lag or to end your Australian adventure on what will literally be a high note. Must do’s are the champagne and canapés at sunset, where you’ll be driven to a remote part of the property to take in another breathtaking view as the sun dips behind the mountains and the 7-course degustation menu with selected wines to suit each course.

New South Wales
Jet-lag cured we headed south to the bohemian coastal town of Byron Bay and the five-star rainforest retreat; Byron at Byron. Upon arrival, signature glasses of champagne were handed to us by the property owners and hosts Lyn and John as we relaxed on the decking and were checked in.

Wooden walkways weave through the surrounding rainforest on the property, offering guests the chance to find a peaceful spot to relax with the sounds of nature, or simply retreat to your suite, with two enclosed balconies and multiple comfy seats to sink into.

Mornings at the Byron at Byron offer complimentary yoga classes and on a Thursday you can join the head-chef, on his visit to the local farmers market, where you’ll have the opportunity to try local produce or simply engage in some people watching as Byron’s most colourful characters do their shopping. The latter I tried and returned to the hotel with locally grown macadamias and some delicious local carrot cake.

A short flight south to Sydney and a 90-minute drive north and we were at the Central Coast, an area rich with pretty harbours, national parks and empty beaches. It was here we stayed at a luxury boutique getaway called Bells at Kilcare. The rooms here are great but the food and the extensive wine cellar are even better, the Italian themed menu designed by one of Australia’s most famous chefs.

The following morning we were back in a helicopter heading out into the depths of the Blue Mountains National Park, past the tourist town of Katoomba and to a site 3.5 hours drive from Sydney, where a new 5-star de luxe property is being built. The hotel in question Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa is Emirates Hotel’s first venture into Australia and is set to redefine Australian luxury when it opens later this year on the 01st October.

Although it was a construction site, all of the buildings are in place, so it was easy to envisage the final product.  The finished suites are simply incredible; each with a separate living room, walk-in wardrobe, private swimming pool and decking, the attention to detail in the rooms is astonishing. A stay at the property will include two guided nature based activities each day, gourmet meals and non-alcoholic drinks.

A scenic helicopter trip through the Blue Mountains, over Sydney Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House and we were back in Sydney, this time for a night in the newly refurbished Four Seasons Hotel. Before I could try out the renowned comfort of my Four Seasons bed, I first had a sunset cruise on Sydney harbour and dinner at one of Sydney’s best restaurants; Aria, overlooking the Opera House. Both would have been great on a usual day but we were lucky enough to catch the final day of the Vivid Festival which had projected various changing images onto the Opera House and made it quite a rare sight to behold.

An early start the next morning but I can honestly say at the reputation of the Four Seasons beds are warranted, it was undoubtedly the best bed I’ve ever slept in, I just wish I’d had a lie-in. Onwards and upwards and a flight to Melbourne was followed by a helicopter transfer to Daylesford for lunch. Home to one of Australia’s best restaurants, located at the Lake House hotel. Known for its bohemian residents and natural thermal springs, Daylesford is an ideal country retreat and opportunity to visit more of Victoria’s spectacular countryside.

The following morning we headed out of Melbourne for a chef led tour of the Mornington Peninsular. Where you visit depends on what’s in season and we were taken to a tomato farm, an olive grove, a fisherman with his morning catch, a goat cheese factory, a winery and a local baker. At each stop we learnt about the different produce and local ways of life, collecting ingredients as we went, before helping the chef to create our gourmet lunch.

A couple of excellent Melbourne restaurants and a guided tour of some of the city’s most eccentric bars and it was time to leave my spacious room at the 5-star Langham Hotel and head to Kangaroo Island, home to what is quite possibly Australia’s best hotel; Southern Ocean Lodge.

South Australia
It only opened last year but in time that has passed Southern Ocean Lodge has well and truly put Kangaroo Island on the luxury map. The 21 spacious suites all face the pounding Southern Ocean and the property has an air of understated opulence that lets you relax and enjoy the natural surroundings in utter luxurious comfort. All drinks beside the expensive champagne and vintage wines behind the glass in the wine cellar are complimentary, as is the minibar in your room and two guided nature based excursions each day.

I’d arrived at nighttime and although I knew the ocean and dramatic sights lay beyond the dark panoramic windows, I was told to sleep with the blinds open so I’d get to enjoy the view when day broke. Sure enough, the first rays of the sunrise woke me up but instead of being angry at the intrusion I felt privileged to see such a beautiful sight. But with a hotel so well thought through and designed had I not taken to being woken up then I could have just used the bedside switch to send the electric blinds back down and slept on.

My day of lodge activities included a guided cliff top walk, where I learnt about the island’s unique flora and fauna and a sunset Kangaroos and Kanapés excursion into neighbouring field with hundreds of wild kangaroo, a glass of bubbles and some delicious canapés. This is just a sample what’s on offer though, as the lodge offers different excursions each day or if you’d rather you could just simply relax and enjoy the stunning surrounds without leaving at all.

The only negative I could find with my stay on Kangaroo Island was that two nights really wasn’t long enough and after a full day tour the island’s spectacular natural sites it was time to leave and head back to reality, where helicopters don’t ship me around and the drinks aren’t included. However, a flight home with Qantas in Business Class kept up the luxury touches for a few hours longer.

Call 020 7873 5000 to discuss a Tailor-Made holiday to Australia.


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