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13
Aug
0

How to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer Points Fast

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Excitedly, I just booked flights to the USA, proud that I'd secured a good price and remembered to book flights on the right fare code to allow upgrades with frequent flyer points.

I've made that rookie error before, where the travel agent assumes you want the cheapest flight, which isn't necessarily upgradable, relegating you to economy with no hope of an upgrade to the pointy end.

So, there I was feeling smug, that I'd secured the right fare code until I logged in to Qantas to discover that....I didn't even have enough frequent flyer points for a single upgrade! Whaaaat!

Somewhere along the line, I'd used most of my points and not accumulated enough since to cover the whopping increase in points required for a simple upgrade from Brisbane to Los Angeles (90,000 points).

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Which means, I have less than 12 weeks to accumulate 140,602 points to upgrade to Business Class. Panicked, I immediately impulse bought a dozen bottles of Margan Estate wine via Qantas Epicure to score 15,000 points! It wasn't a bad purchase, as the 2014 vintage in the Hunter Valley was a stellar year, but still, rather drastic!

So, dear readers, hit me up with your best travel hacks for accumulating Qantas frequent flyer points fast! It happens to the best of us, even the most savvy of travellers, so I'll share my hacks and learnings here on my quest to secure those elusive upgrades and hope it helps you too.

Share your frequent flyer secrets and travel hacks below, I'd love to hear from you.

Image credit: Points Hack
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08
Aug
0

Mister Percy opens at Ovolo 1888

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Wine lovers rejoice! One of Sydney's hottest hotels has just unveiled an intimate new wine bar.

Mister Percy, a Mediterranean-style wine bar & kitchen has just launched in the heritage-inspired boutique hotel Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour.

Named after Percy Ewart, a former wool classer at the original wool store who also made his mark (literally) by etching his name in the sandstone building, Mister Percy offers both a menu and wine and drinks list inspired by the arc of countries surrounding the Mediterranean.

Ovolo 1888 General Manager, Amanda Cottome said: "When we came to choosing a name we jumped at the opportunity to pay homage to Percy and the building's rich history. We are also excited to open the only Mediterranean wine bar in Sydney and providing customers with a unique experience through great food, wine, service, and design."

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Acclaimed Sydney Chef, Justin North, has collaborated with Head Chef Luca Guiotto (ex-A Tavola, Catalina) to develop a coastal European menu showcasing Mediterranean flavours and techniques, anchored by seasonal and mainly local produce.

The menu includes a selection of smaller skewed snacks or pinchos, as well as larger dishes and Australian artisan cheeses, all designed to be enjoyed with a glass of wine in hand. Sounds perfect right? Signature plates include Citrus-cured Hiramasa Kingfish with Horseradish Yoghurt, Verjuice and Carasau Bread and Gnochetti with Zucchini, Cime di Rapa, Fine Herbs all designed for sharing. As with most Ovolo Hotels, there is a large selection of vegetarian options available.

The carefully curated 100-strong wine list features mainly Mediterranean-style wines and varietals. With a bent towards smaller producers and left-of-field varietals, expect to see Mencia and Cinsault from southern Europe and closer to home, Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio from Victoria's King Valley.

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Mister Percy's cocktails share the same European flavour, so expect a great Negroni or Aperol Spritz plus a strong selection of aperitifs and digestifs. We think the striking new lobby lounge is the perfect place to unwind with a Negroni at the end of the day!

Mister Percy is open to visitors and guests every night of the week from 5pm. The intimate bar, seats just 60 guests and is destined to become a inner city haven known for its classic cocktails and Mediterranean food and wine offering.

Make a night of it with a stay at Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour. Housed in a converted wool store, this quirky boutique hotel is a great base to explore Sydney. Book online with no fees at alluxia.com

 

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07
Aug
0

Bundaberg Farmers - Australia’s new foodie rock stars

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Australian farmers are currently in the spotlight, but sadly not for their amazing produce, instead hitting the headlines as drought is declared across Australia. Here's how you can help and read a balanced view of this emotionally charged issue here.

One thing is for certain, our farmers deserve our attention and one festival placing farmers at the forefront is the Bundaberg Winterfeast Festival. While many foodie festivals in Australia highlight celebrity chefs as their stars, Winterfeast showcases the local farmers as the new foodie rock stars!

While thankfully Bundaberg is not currently in a drought declared region, it's important to support all farmers and buy Australian produce, whether it be from the farm gate, local markets or supermarkets and visit our farming regions.

The horticultural industry within the greater Bundaberg region employs over 5,000 people, has a farm gate value of approx $500 million and injects over a billion dollars into the Queensland economy, impressive huh?

As consumers we are encouraged to know where our produce comes from and a tour of the region allows visitors to meet the makers and get to know the people and families that grow our favourite fruit and veg.

Here's some of the Bundaberg rock stars we met during Bundaberg Winterfeast:

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Tina McPherson, Tinaberries
Disregard any pre-conceived ideas you have about farmers and prepare to be wowed by Tina, the effervescent and passionate farmer behind Tinaberries! Greeting us in her signature bright pink shirt and lip-gloss, Tina is the kind of woman you want to sit down and have a yarn with over Champagne and strawberries, naturally. First-generation farmers, the McPherson's were attracted to Bundaberg for the relaxed Queensland lifestyle, tropical climate and the region's fertile fields perfect for growing fruit and vegetables of superior quality, evident in their premium Camarosa strawberries. Tinaberries is open to the public to purchase farm fresh strawberries; indulge in ice-cream with fresh strawberries and in Aug/Sept you can enjoy a "pick your own" experience.

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Anthony Rehbein, Hummock Produce/Bunda Ginga
Anthony and Kate Rehbein are proud and dedicated fourth generation farmers. The Rehbein family were originally cane farmers and have diversified over the years to grow watermelons, pumpkins, eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries and more. Anthony has also strategically diversified to grow turmeric and after a trial plot of ginger has grown into one of the biggest commercial ginger operations in Queensland under the Bunda Ginga brand.

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Dave Galati, Rosengal
Second-generation farmers, Dave and his brother took over the family business when their father passed away and grow green, flat, butter and borlotti beans. The brothers have grown the business by having dual farms in Queensland and Victoria, taking advantage of different conditions and yields. Dave admitted that farming is stressful, but he's proud and passionate and is thankful that his soil is healthy, crops are healthy and his produce is healthy and in the most adorable admission, talks to his beans as a fresh crop appears saying "hello little fellas". Awww

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Linda Zunker, Windhum Farms
Dedicated fifth generation farmers, their family were original settlers in the region, clearing virgin land for farming in the early 1870's. The Zunker's have continued to expand by purchasing neighbouring properties and growing quality premium grade gold sweet potatoes under the "Bundaberg Gold" brand and selling to supermarkets and wholesalers across Australia. They have recently diversified to growing macadamia trees, as the region is ideal for macadamias producing 25% of Australia's macadamias. I picked up 2kg of farm gate sweet potatoes on my trip (the most unusual souvenir I think I've ever bought) and using the recipe book Linda gave me have cooked various creative and delicious sweet potato dishes on my return! Track down a copy or visit Bundaberg Gold website for recipes.

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A highlight of Bundaberg Winterfeast has been meeting the producers and hearing their unique stories. The best way to visit these farms and meet the makers is with Bundy Food Tours. Check out their website for tours and dates here.

Where to Stay
We recommend basing yourself beachside at Bargara at ZEN Beach Retreat. Browse and book here.

 

Are you planning on visiting a farm region soon? How are you planning to support the farmers?

Alluxia has made a donation to Buy a Bale.

 

The writer was a guest of Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism.
 

You Might Also Like: Bundaberg Region Winterfeast

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05
Aug
0

Taste Champagne 2018

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Australians love Champagne!

Last year Australians popped an all-time record of 8.53 million bottles, up a massive 16% on 2016. This unprecedented growth positioned Australia as the fastest-growing of champagne's top ten markets.
Australia ranks seventh in the Top 10 largest champagne markets, boasting the biggest consumption per head of population outside Europe.

Australia is riding a 16-year long champagne high. With maturing palates and a rising spend per bottle, champagne is no longer a special occasion luxury but a regular indulgence.

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If you're a champagne lover, there's no better place to unleash your passion for bubbles than Taste Champagne!

Rolling in to a city near you in August, Taste Champagne has exploded to become the biggest Champagne event series in the world. Hosted by Tyson Stelzer, author of The Champagne Guide and International Wine & Spirit Communicator of the Year, the event will be even bigger this year, adding Adelaide to the lineup.

Taste Champagne is a grand tasting where guests are invited to taste at their own pace between houses, growers and cooperatives from the large range of brands showcased at each event. In 2018, Taste Champagne will be showcasing a record 267 cuvées from 81 estates. Highlights include Dom Pérignon, Krug, Lallier, Laurent-Perrier, Laurenti, Ruinart and many more.

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Last year, every event was a sell out, so grab your ticket here to avoid disappointment. Tickets include a hot fork dish and a Riedel Veritas Champagne Flute valued at $60.


Sydney – Four Seasons – 6-9pm Monday 6th August
Canberra – Old Parliament House – 6-9pm Wednesday 8th August
Brisbane – Sofitel Brisbane Central – 6-9pm Monday 13th August
Perth – Beaumonde On the Point – 6-9pm Wednesday 15th August
Melbourne – Plaza Ballroom – 6-9pm Monday 20th August
Adelaide – Adelaide Festival Centre – 6-9pm Wednesday 22nd August

 
Images: supplied by Taste Champagne
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31
Jul
0

Bundaberg Region Winterfeast

Posted on in Travel Tips

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There's nothing like Australian food & wine. Hand's up if you've travelled for a food and wine festival or jetted interstate to try a new restaurant in the last 12 months? Tourism Australia report high value travellers rank good food and wine in the top five most important factors when choosing a holiday destination.

While most travellers think of foodie getaways to Melbourne, Noosa or Margaret River, what about the emerging foodie destination of Bundaberg?

Bundaberg is less than an hour's flight from Brisbane and has the enviable location of being the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef. With stunning coastal and aquatic attractions such as the turtles at Mon Repos and inland its fertile soil produce a staggering 25% of Australia's food, making it both an aquatic wonderland and foodie paradise.

To showcase and celebrate the incredible fresh produce, the region stages an annual 10-day Winterfeast Festival, an authentic farm gate to plate experience in Bundaberg, North Burnett Region Queensland.

In part one of our Bundy series we bring you the highlights from this year's festival!

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Let The Night Be Gin
You've all heard of Bundaberg Rum, but have you heard of Bundaberg Gin? Rick Prosser (ex-Bundaberg Rum) launched this family owned and operated business just 18 months ago and flung open the doors to the distillery during the festival for a night of gin cocktails and the chance to blend our own gin. The night included premium gin cocktails such as the exquisite Fig Jam Martini created by gin queen Belinda aka 'The Patron Saint of Gin', a scrumptious three course menu from the inventive boys of The Bundy Burger Company (with not a burger in sight) and the opportunity to blend our very own bottle of classic gin. Honestly, it was a brave soul to attempt to co-ordinate a bunch of gin drinking revellers to focus on blending our own and we'll soon find out the results, with our group-blended gin being shipped to us in the coming weeks!
The Kalki Moon cellar door is open all year round for tastings, a must-do for gin lovers.

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Artisan Food Tour
What better way to unlock your passion for food than a guided food tour of the region with Bundy Food Tours' Suzie Clarke. This small intimate day tour with like-minded foodies visited a bunch of passionate farmers and producers tasting, picking and cooking our way around the region. Highlights included a behind the scenes tour of the Grunske seafood market and a platter of their finest (pictured top), picking strawberries with the effervescent Tina from Tinaberries, eating the flakiest pastries in Australia's smallest bakery at The Pocket Storehouse and more.
Similar tours run all year by Bundy Food Tours, and it's a must-do when visiting Bundy.

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A Winterfeast for the Senses
A masterful idea to combine the regions fine food with a side of culture! Bundaberg Region Art Gallery (BRAG) staged a stunning evening showcasing artist Hobie Porter's contemporary landscape retrospective, to the strains of the Bundaberg Sinfonietta and delicious morsels by Chef Dion Taylor from Food for Fork; it truly was a feast of the senses!
Check out BRAG for current and upcoming exhibitions.

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Farm Flavours Picnic
Bundaberg produces a whopping 25% of Australia's macadamias with nearly 2 million trees in the region, so it was a genius idea to picnic amongst the trees at the Farm Flavours Picnic! Guests grazed on a picnic basket filled with local ingredients including Barritt's smallgoods, The Pocket Storehouse sourdough and Tinaberries strawberries featuring on the most delicious mini passionfruit cheesecake with fresh strawberries. The family friendly event saw groups gathering on blankets amongst the macadamia groves enjoying the sunshine and live entertainment for the most delicious, leisurely afternoon.
Seek out Macadamia Australia's Lemon Myrtle Macadamias online or local stockists. Yum!

With sunny skies and winter temperatures around 26 degrees, more southerners should make their escape north to Bundaberg during Winterfeast. The incredibly friendly people, magnificent produce and laid-back lifestyle make Bundaberg a foodie destination worth exploring.

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Missed out? Visit anytime to enjoy a taste of Bundaberg or subscribe to be among the first to hear about next year's event!

Create your own gourmet getaway with a stay at Bundaberg's most luxurious accommodation ZEN Beach Retreat boasting absolute beachfront location at Bargara, now available to book on alluxia.

Have you visited Bundaberg Winterfeast? Did you love it too?

Image credit: IG @alluxia, IG @_sally_scott_

The writer was a guest of Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism.
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22
Jul
0

QT Port Douglas Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Escape the winter chill with a mini-break to Port Douglas! While Melbournians might be shivering through days with a top of 13 degrees, locals in Port Douglas are basking in a pleasant 26 degrees. Where would you rather be?

Just 1 hour's drive north from Cairns Airport along one of the most scenic coastal drives, you'll reach the idyllic haven of Port Douglas. Like many resorts in Port, QT Port Douglas is set back from the high street, less than 5 minutes drive from Macrossan Street. The quaint bus transfer system is still in full swing, where you can hail a ride in and out of town for $5. It's a great system that works, no Uber required here. 

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QT's signature fun style is evident from the moment you arrive. The open-air lobby, is light, bright and breezy and puts you instantly in holiday mode. There's the super cute mini moke parked in the porte-cochère and bikes to hire. The lobby merges effortlessly from check-in to gift shop filled with a curated selection of quirky must-haves, to games room with pool tables to bar and beyond.

The resort is surrounded by lush tropical gardens with a large lagoon style swimming pool at its heart. Lazing by the pool is the order of the day here and with a swim up bar and pool service, you won't need to stray far when hunger strikes. There's plenty of pool lounges and shady reading spots while fellow guests float past sipping Rosé in the sunshine. Sound like heaven?

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Rooms at QT Port Douglas
We stayed in a One Bedroom Villa and it was perfect for our 3-night escape. Our room was located away from the pool, making it a peaceful spot far from poolside shenanigans with tranquil garden views. The room décor is all white washed walls and splashes of colour courtesy of scatter cushions, pineapple and cockatoo lampshades and plenty of quirky pieces. I usually don't unpack my suitcase when travelling but the room was so inviting I unpacked fully and settled in!

Relax in tropical luxury with spacious apartment style villas complete with kitchenette, dining table, lounge area, private balcony and separate bedroom with ensuite bathroom. Additions such as quality Malin + Goetz amenities in a glass bowl with a post-it note stuck to the mirror stating "Good Morning, Geez you woke up gorgeous!" are a nice touch. The minibar is filled with unique gifts and treats and a pineapple welcome gift was certainly a first!

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Dining at QT Port Douglas
The main restaurant Bazaar is open daily for breakfast and dinner for a grazing buffet style feast. While the buffet is not as extensive as it's sister restaurant on the Gold Coast, it contained a quality selection of cereals, pastries, tropical fruit, fresh juice, flavoured milks and a hot buffet plus eggs cooked to order by the friendly chefs all for an affordable price of $28 per person.

Opposite Bazaar is the equally breezy Estilo bar, a relaxed spot to enjoy a cocktail or two. Estilo is a casual lounge come sports bar decked out in beachside chic décor and a great spot to unwind day or night.

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Creating Memories
Taking full advantage of the stunning tropical backdrop at QT Port Douglas, I booked a Travelshoot to capture holiday memories. Travelshoot connects travellers with professional photographers across the world. It's all about being natural (not cheesy) and enjoying the experience, a big improvement on holiday selfies or enlisting the help of random strangers to capture your holiday snaps. Port Douglas is certainly an idyllic location for a Travelshoot, don't you think? Read more about my Travelshoot experience here.

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QT Port Douglas is a fun and fabulous resort and the perfect base to explore Port Douglas and Daintree. A sprawling resort with well-maintained tropical gardens and central lagoon style pool it's ideal for romantic getaways or family fun in the sun holidays.

QT Port Douglas
87-109 Port Douglas Road, Port Douglas QLD
Book QT Port Douglas here.

The writer was a guest of QT Port Douglas and Travelshoot.
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16
Jul
0

Abode Murrumbateman Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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There's something happening in the Canberra wine region and it's a real game-changer.

The region has long been popular with day-trippers, with 30 cellar doors located within 35 minutes drive of Canberra. The region already boasts quality wines, stunning vistas, delectable restaurants and cafes but one essential ingredient has been missing until now... quality accommodation.

Enter Abode Murrumbateman! The Canberra based independently owned hotel group has recently opened a 50-room hotel in the heart of wine country, creating a whole new destination to explore for wine weekends and romantic getaways.

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The hotel continues the popular modern concept of simple rooms complemented with contemporary communal spaces. On arrival, the lobby lounge is a welcoming sunny space with friendly staff going above and beyond to ensure you have an enjoyable stay. On offer at Abode are bikes and handy wine trail maps to explore the countryside, just $5 per bike per hour if you're up to the challenge. If reading by the fireplace is more your style, they've got that covered too.

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Rooms at Abode Murrumbateman
Rooms are hotel style with an appealing minimalist design aesthetic embracing natural styles and textures. Celebrating the surrounding wine region, rooms are kitted out with quirky bedside tables resembling wine corks and wine books and magazines are available to peruse from the lobby lounge.

Our Terrace room features a super comfy king size bed, sitting area, HD television, air-conditioning/heating, bar fridge, outdoor terrace and private ensuite with walk-in shower. All rooms include free wifi and coffee machine and quality, boutique fittings. We loved the stunning artwork by local landscape photographer Scott Leggo gracing the walls of each room. The artwork perfectly captures the natural beauty and colours of the surrounding landscape and complements the earthy colour palette of each room.

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Abode Pantry
While there is no minibar in your room, satisfy your cravings with gourmet goodies from the lobby lounge Abode Pantry. The curated collection of produce, snacks and essentials are here to tempt plus there is a wide selection of local wines including Helm, Collector and Gundog Estate on offer. The communal kitchen is available for guests to cook up a storm and doubles as the breakfast buffet each morning.

The breakfast selection is a simple affair of bread, pastries, fresh fruit, cereal, yoghurt and pancakes with barista made espresso coffee the star of the show, expertly made by Courtney during our stay. You can even arrange in-room breakfast on request if you're not keen to leave the sanctuary of your cosy abode.

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Canberra District Wine Guide
Grab a wineries guide and start exploring the cool climate wine region with Eden Road Wines, Clonakilla, Helm Wines, The Vitner's Daughter and Four Winds Vineyard all within easy reach of Abode Murrumbateman. We particularly adored the cellar door experience at Helm Wines where winemaker Ken Helm was on hand to personally pour wines and regale us with stories from his rustic cellar door. Daughter Stephanie has branched out with her own label, the aptly named The Vintner's Daughter, however plan ahead as the Vintner's Daughter cellar door is open only on weekends.

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Set amongst the stunning backdrop of the rugged Southern New South Wales' mountain ranges, surrounded by internationally acclaimed boutique wineries, restaurants, cafes and a delectable chocolatier, Abode Murrumbateman is the Canberra wine region bolthole we've all be craving.

Abode Murrumbateman
57 Rose Street, Murrumbateman NSW 2582
Book Abode Murrumbateman here.

The writer was a guest of Abode Murrumbateman.
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07
Jul
0

Top Tip for Improved Travel Photography

Posted on in Travel Tips

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I have a confession to make. When travelling across Australia checking out new properties to add to the alluxia collection, mostly I'm travelling solo. It may look all-glamorous in a bunch of idyllic locations, but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. Luckily, it's not all business though and I usually try and schedule some down time to explore each destination, unearthing what's new, unique and different to share with our readers.

I love solo travel, but it's sometimes difficult to capture yourself in these destinations unless you resort to selfies (yuk) or wrangle a random stranger (whose camera skills may be questionable) so the options are pretty limited.

Enter Travelshoot, an incredible website that connects travellers with professional local photographers in destinations around the world to capture your holiday memories. So, on a recent trip to Port Douglas to attend a friend's wedding, I thought it was time to try Travelshoot for myself.

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The process of booking Travelshoot online was easy and after submitting my brief I was matched with local Port Douglas photographer Rian Cope. I loved being able to see Rian's portfolio of work online prior to the shoot, making me feel confident of his style and vibe ahead of our meet up.

It was all so effortless with Rian arriving at our agreed meeting point just before golden hour all ready to shoot! The bright, breezy location of QT Port Douglas was the perfect backdrop to kick things off. Rian did his best to make me at ease, but I still felt a bit awkward, I should totally have ordered a glass of Champagne at the bar to loosen up! Travelshoot is all about being natural (no cheesy posing) and enjoying the experience, which is sometimes easier said than done.

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A quick wardrobe change and it was down to the spectacular Sugar Wharf and St Mary's by the Sea, also the location of my friend's beautiful wedding. The hour flew by and it was great to chat with Rian between shots about all things tourism (he takes amazing photographs to promote Port Douglas tourism) and he shared some local recommendations and tips with me.

You can normally expect to see a sneak peek of your shoot within 48 hours and the full album within 7 days. However, Rian exceeded my expectations by having the full album online for me the very next day. How's that for service!

I'm happy with the results, particularly the ones where I'm laughing and more natural, so it just proves it's best to loosen up and trust the photographer to get the best results. I'll know that for next time and there will be a next time - think laneways of Melbourne and the streets of New York!

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Looking back at these photos, I'm reminded of my friend's beautiful ceremony in this little church and the incredible time we had celebrating in Port Douglas. While the Travelshoot service is ideal for solo travellers, it would be magical for couples and brilliant for families to capture some truly great holiday memories. So my top tip for creating epic travel photography is to call in the experts at Travelshoot!

Love to plan your own Travelshoot? The good people of Travelshoot have kindly offered $50 off any Travelshoot experience when you enter promo code "ALLUXIAVIP" here.

Which destination would you love to experience your Travelshoot?

 
With thanks to Travelshoot. On location at QT Port Douglas.

 

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05
Jul
0

Canberra Truffle Festival 2018

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Truffle season is in full swing!

The Truffle Festival is a 12-week celebration of the harvest of the Black Winter Truffle also known as Perigord Truffle grown in the Canberra region.

Celebrating 10 years, embrace the winter chill and indulge in a mid-winter feast of the senses at The Truffle Festival – Canberra Region. Local restaurants, cafes, bars and wineries are serving up truffle inspired menus to celebrate this seasonal delicacy.

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Turalla Truffles Truffle Hunt
A must-do for foodies is to head out on a truffle hunt. There are plenty of truffieres dotted around the Canberra region offering the opportunity to meet the growers, pat the pups and get your hands dirty but our favourite is Turalla Truffles.

A truffle hunt at Turalla involves the cutest Jack Russell dogs as they scavenge for the elusive Black Truffle. We highly recommend you opt for their 'Hunt then Cook Adventure' where you'll join Damian and his family as you prepare and cook Truffle dishes, then enjoy the bounty with a glass of local Canberra wine.

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Sage Dining Rooms Truffle Degustation
Once you've left the paddock, you'll want to enjoy truffles on a plate and you're in luck, with a host of top restaurants showcasing truffles on the menu during the season. Our pick of the festival program is the 10-course truffle degustation at Sage Dining Rooms. We were treated to a preview and can reveal details of all the decadent courses here! Your evening starts with truffle cream oysters and the most velvety pumpkin soup. It's a strong start with the soup a punchy mix of flavours with sage oil, nutmeg foam and shaved pumpkin seeds and of course truffles!

Your next series of dishes include smoked swordfish with truffle, celeriac and mandarin (pictured below) which is almost too pretty to eat. Followed by seared scallops with kale polenta and truffled hollandaise (pictured above) then get ready for mushroom agnolotti with shitake broth, nasturtium and black pepper oil.

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I hope you've packed your stretchy pants for the main courses. Get ready for scotched eggs with truffle oil and truffle salt plus smoked free range chicken breast with smoked mushrooms, almond and madeira, but which to eat first? The chicken or the egg? These dishes show Head Chef Thomas Heinrich's sense of humour. The inventive dishes continue with beef short rib with truffle, parsnip and parsley.

I hope you've left room, because the dessert courses are a worth waiting for. Enjoy truffle gouda with candied walnuts and muscatels, just delicious. Finally, the simple description of truffle ice cream doesn't do this incredible dessert justice. The truffle icecream is served on Italian meringue, honey gel, dark chocolate and hazelnut all dusted in gold and is an absolute triumph! You don't want to miss this 10-course truffle degustation available Tues-Fri for $130pp during the truffle season.

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Fyshwick Markets
If you've developed a taste for truffles, you'll want to procure some to take home. Therefore a visit to Fyshwick Markets is an absolute must. These markets are steeped in history, as Canberra's first farmers markets beginning when farmers, many of them Italian and Greek immigrants gathered on the block where the markets are now located to sell their produce. Fast-forward to today and the modern redevelopment still retains the heart, soul and sense of community of the past but with the convenience and range shoppers love. You'll find truffle products at Wiffens, Mart Deli and Deli Planet.

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Poachers Pantry
We were treated to Poachers Pantry's one night only truffle degustation involving five fabulous courses enjoyed fireside with matched Wily Trout wines. A standout was the poached Moreton Bay bug, sweet corn, Blanc de Blanc emulsion and truffle pearl. While the restaurant is closed 2-22 July for a "small creative break" be sure to book in for their four-course set menu with Black Truffle during a la carte service. Enjoy spectacular cuisine in a beautiful country setting in the picturesque Canberra wine region, just 30 minutes from Canberra city.

The Truffle Festival Canberra Region continues from June to August with a range of delicious events and experiences.

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Ovolo Nishi
We chose to stay at Ovolo Nishi in the New Acton Precinct. Formerly known as Hotel Hotel, the boutique hotel retains the same creative DNA as the original but now with added Ovolo benefits including free minibar, free wifi, free loot bag and more. Our Creative Sun room featured floor to ceiling windows to let in the golden rays and bushland views. The super spacious room boasted a king size bed, desk and separate sitting area with a funky turquoise chair, my favourite. We loved our dreamy room and didn't want to leave. Book Ovolo Nishi here or browse our full collection of Canberra accommodation.

Are you planning to travel to Canberra for the Truffle Festival? What events are you looking forward to most? Share your comments below, we'd love to hear from you!

The writer was a guest of Sage Dining Rooms, Poachers Pantry and Fyswick Markets and would like to thank Canberra Truffle Festival for their assistance with creating an epic foodie weekend.
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Jun
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Alamanda Palm Cove Review – Palm Cove Perfection

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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There is no need to go overseas for a luxury spa holiday;  venture just 25 minutes from Cairns to the Alamanda Palm Cove for the ultimate tropical spa getaway!  This luxurious all-suite hotel is the only hotel in Palm Cove to offer absolute beachfront accommodation, with only palm trees between you and the stunning Palm Cove beach.

On arrival, I’m greeted with a glass of bubbles and some local Daintree Estates chocolate, making the check-in process a warm and welcoming experience; yes I think I’m going to settle in just fine here!

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Rooms at Alamanda Palm Cove

The apartments are in a word HUGE, around twice the size of a standard one bedroom apartment elsewhere and ideal for unwinding for a few days. We stayed in a one bedroom pool view room which had an enormous lounge room with super comfy corner lounge, dining table, fully equipped kitchen and balcony overlooking the pool and gardens.

Suites are decorated in a sophisticated tropical style and the bedroom boasted two bathrooms, one ensuite with shower and the other with a bath. While the apartments were impeccably presented, the TV’s and timber furniture are starting to look ready for an update. The king size bed was uber comfortable to guarantee a good night sleep.

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Rejuvenation at Alamanda Palm Cove

Waking refreshed and revived, I decided to take a sunrise walk along the beach and watch the first light break along the beach. I wasn’t alone and there were plenty of budding photographers trying to snap the sunrise.

The hotel offers guests complimentary pilates and beachfront yoga on selected days and Saturday’s yoga session was full with holiday makers making the most of the stunning morning. Beth’s calming voice and the sound of the waves is certainly a tranquil way to start the day.

Alamanda’s award winning day spa is not to be missed. Few spas in Australia boast such a stunning beach backdrop and during my Signature Massage the therapist opened the windows to let in the sea breeze and hear the lapping waves, pure bliss. However, the best was still to come… after an hour of pampering, I was led upstairs to the private spa pavilions to relax with a cup of T2 Tea post massage. This private pavilion with plunge pool makes for a memorable end to the ultimate tropical treat.

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Breakfast at Alamanda Palm Cove

Alamanda Palm Cove boasts beachfront restaurant Nu Nu, rightly voted one of Queensland’s top restaurants and helmed by celebrated Chef Nick Holloway.  Nu Nu is open 7 days from early morning to late, although closed for dinner during my stay for a special event. Definitely opt for the Alamanda Breakfast Special during your stay, an extravagant two-course breakfast with a side of beach views. The breakfast package includes fresh seasonal fruit on arrival and spiced pineapple & coconut cream soaked muesli, Daintree vanilla, mango, seasonal fruits & toasted coconut. For second course, I opted for a Stockmans free-range egg omelette and the breakfast feast comes with your choice of juice and tea/coffee. You can also upgrade to one of Nu Nu’s signature dishes such as North Queensland mud crab omelette, greens, ginger caramel & white pepper broth for just $10.

It’s only a short stroll across the road to all of Palm Cove’s restaurants and cafes, but dining at Nu Nu is a must during your visit to Palm Cove.

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Couples Getaway or Family Holiday?

Alamanda Palm Cove manages to cater effortlessly for both couples and families. Palm Cove is a renowned wedding destination and honeymoon hot spot and Alamanda even has a dreamy seaside chapel onsite. Also beachside is an adults only pool thereby allowing some quiet time for couples. Families can frolic in the two other swimming pools, each with their own appeal and there are plenty of nearby attractions to keep kids entertained. The hotel offers a “stress-free” family package which includes offering complimentary items such as cots, prams, strollers, play mats and more during your stay. There are also complimentary activities such as beach volleyball, kites, croquet, bocce, badminton and a comprehensive DVD library and book depository.

There’s plenty of choice for accommodation in Palm Cove, but what sets Alamanda Palm Cove apart is the genuine, friendly and professional service where the team go above and beyond to assist with your every need. Combining absolute beachfront location, with an exceptional spa experience and impeccable dining at Nunu’s makes for the ultimate tropical spa getaway.

Alamanda Palm Cove
1 Veivers Road, Palm Cove QLD 4876
Book Alamanda Palm Cove here.

Have you been to Palm Cove recently? What did you love about this tropical paradise? Tell us below!

The writer was a guest of Alamanda Palm Cove.
Images: IG @alluxia, Alamanda Palm Cove
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Jun
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World Gin Day | Cape Byron Distillery

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Nestled in the Byron Bay Hinterland, family-run Cape Byron Distillery is a must-visit for gin lovers. The distillery is a great place to learn more about gin and grow your gin appreciation.

This boutique distillery captures and showcases the unique terroir of the Northern Rivers in its rainforest infused gin. The estate's subtropical rainforest provides a plethora of unique edible native species and botanicals including Davidson plum, aniseed myrtle and cinnamon myrtle. Of the 26 botanicals in Brookie's Byron Dry Gin, 18 are sourced locally, many from the surrounding rainforest.

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Jim McEwan is the master distiller at Brookie's Gin and alongside co-founder Eddie Brook, the duo are creating an exciting, lively and aromatic gin unique to the region.

On a recent trip to the Byron Bay hinterland, Cape Byron Distillery's charismatic Matteo treated our group to a taste of what guests would expect from a distillery tour. On arrival, we're greeted with a refreshing Brookie's Gin & tonic and I'm in love already! Sipping this beauty it's hard to keep focused on the tour, but it's worth it to hear the journey of Brookie's Gin, the story of the incredible Brook farm and the art of distillation.

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We opted to keep sipping gin on the verandah overlooking the magnificent macadamia farm, but normally you'd be taken on a guided tour through the surrounding sub-tropical rainforest, to smell, see and touch the botanicals used in the gin.

It was fascinating to see the distillation process and hear about how they make their Brookie's Byron Slow Gin, which is created using Davidson Plum, a unique fruit indigenous to the subtropical rainforest of Northern NSW. Made in the style of traditional English 'sloe' gin (see what they did there) the Davidson Plums are steeped in Brookie's Byron Dry Gin for several months, allowing time to create its magic.

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Cape Byron Distillery Cellar Door is located in the hinterland of Byron Bay and is open for tours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tours run for 2-2.5 hours so allow plenty of time to relax and enjoy a G&T on the deck. Bookings are essential and can be made here.

So on World Gin Day or any weekend in fact, a detour from Byron Bay to this hinterland gin haven is a must.

Cape Byron Distillery
80 St Helena Rd, McLeods Shoot NSW 2479 ph: 02 6684 7691
Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday by appointment
Check Cape Byron Distillery website for more details.

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Stay
We stayed as guests of private residence Byronesque, a 5 bedroom Byron Bay oasis able to sleep up to 12 guests in style. The luxury Byron Bay holiday house is ideal for corporate retreats, group getaways or yoga retreats. Contact us directly for a quote. Browse our handpicked collection of Byron Bay Accommodation.

You Might Also Like:

World Gin Day | Four Pillars Gin

World Gin Day | Gin Dens 

 

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22
May
0

Alex Hotel Perth Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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As Alex Hotel Perth celebrates its third birthday, we reflect on our recent stay at this hip hotel and reveal the best in the west.

What we Love
Alex Hotel is a boutique hotel with a cool, modern twist. It's all about compact rooms and communal spaces, which is proving a popular trend. The super friendly team offer helpful suggestions about local restaurants & bars and are completely engaging with all guests, helped by a free-flowing reception area without a formal reception desk.

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Rooms are minimalist, cleverly designed and include free wifi, smart tv and complimentary filtered still water in refillable bottles, a great environmentally friendly initiative. There are unique touches everywhere, like handmade soap and the rooftop terrace is a little oasis from the city.

The mezzanine lounge is open to all guests to relax and help themselves to the honour bar. Daily light breakfast is included in your stay and is a delicious feast of quality cereal, freshly baked muffins, bread and juices.

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In the Know
You're amongst the entertainment precinct of Perth's Northbridge and earplugs are provided alongside the bathroom amenities, so take note. Take advantage of this lively location and hit up some of these favourite local haunts:

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Shadow Wine Bar, Northbridge
Adjacent to the hotel is the sleek and sexy, Shadow Wine Bar. They have crazy good bar snacks and a stellar wine list with a mix of local, national and international wines. Highly recommend.

Mechanics Institute Bar, Northbridge 
With grungy tunes, Flipside burgers and curious cocktails, head to Mechanics Institute for rooftop hangs. With a leaning toward worldwide whiskey's from the US and Scotland, they've also got all your gin and tequila cravings covered too.

Lucky Chan's Laundry & Noodle Bar, Northbridge 
Enter via the front Chinese laundry into Perth's first partially crowd funded cocktail and noodle bar. The small eating house has an uber inviting bar stocked with Sake and spirits and street eats menu of dumplings, bao and ramen. The multi-level temple has rooftop tables too and the food is beyond delicious, just go!

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The Standard, Northbridge 
Set in a lofty industrial space with only see-through shelving separating the bar and kitchen, the enticing aromas of delicious dishes wafting through the bar will have you grabbing for a menu as soon as you walk through the door. The relaxed wine garden out back is perfect for balmy Perth nights. This Northbridge bar sets a new standard in contemporary bar food in Perth (see what we did there).

The Bird, Northbridge 
This hipster hangout and live music venue is the perfect place to catch a cool live band or DJ session. With entry fees just $5-$10 it feels good to support local music.

Stay at Alex Hotel Perth
50 James St, Perth WA 6000
Book online with no booking fees here.

Image credit: IG @alluxia, @shadowwinebar @luckychansbar

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06
May
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Dorchester on the Beach Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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While it seems like every new high rise being built on the Gold Coast is bigger and shinier than the next, remember bigger isn't always better.

If you long for the nostalgia of yesteryear, for the quintessential Aussie beach holiday, then I think I've found just the place.

Dorchester on the Beach is a boutique apartment property perfectly situated between Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach and boasting an absolute beachfront vantage point that can't be beat.

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Managed by Karen and Michael Cross, you'll be hard pressed to find a more friendly, helpful and professional couple on the coast. With loads of experience, you're in great hands to ensure a fab holiday on the Gold Coast.

Each three bedroom apartment is privately owned and therefore uniquely furnished, so the room types are conveniently graded as 3, 4 of 4.5 star based on quality, so you're bound to find the right apartment to fit your style and budget.

We're spending the night in 4.5 star style and arrive to an apartment flooded with afternoon light and panoramic ocean views - it's a truly breathtaking sight!

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The spacious lounge room overlooks the beach opening out to a balcony to sit and enjoy sunset drinks and cool ocean breezes. The large kitchen makes self-catering easy for a great night in; I mean why would you want to leave these views? Our apartment appears newly refurbished with quality furnishings, sophisticated fit out and comfortable bedding. All the creature comforts are covered including free WiFi, Foxtel and DVD player.

With only 2 apartments per floor and only 33 apartments in total, the apartments are a quiet haven for holidaymakers, away from the party heart of Surfers and ideal for those wishing to relax and enjoy the stunning location and slumber to the sounds of the ocean.

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There is a ground floor heated pool and BBQ area, perfect for families to splash about. With direct beach access, you're straight on the beach for morning walks, evening strolls and beach shenanigans.

Dorchester on the Beach also has a neighbourly arrangement with the local Northcliffe Surf Club offering a discount off the breakfast price for guests. I strolled down for an early morning coffee and can confirm it's a sensational spot and the breakfast menu looks the goods too.

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Dorchester on the Beach is ideal for Gold Coast family holidays or group getaways. In fact, I'm planning my next escape, a girls' getaway here would be just perfect!

So if you're seeking a Gold Coast getaway with spacious apartments, unrivalled absolute beachfront location and friendly, welcoming service this hidden gem just might be for you too.

Dorchester on the Beach
3 Garfield Terrace, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
Book at Dorchester on the Beach here from $204 per night

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The writer was a guest of Dorchester on the Beach.
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03
May
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Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival

Posted on in Travel Tips

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This years Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival is set to be bigger and better than ever before with the addition of 15 new events announced to the packed program of food and wine experiences.

Celebrating all things food and wine over two fabulous months, the Hunter Valley will showcase 40 events during May and June including delicious gourmet dinners, wine and cocktail master classes, hands-on cooking classes and long lunches.

This years 15 new events include Viva Verdelho at Tulloch Wines, Magnum Madness at Hart & Hunter Cellar Door, Music in the Woods at Stonehurst Cedar Creek, Cheeses of the World at Two Fat Blokes and Picnic in the Park.

Complementing these new events are Festival favourites including the Tyrrell's Winemaker's Luncheon, Meet the Farmer Dinner at Margan, Glandore Estate Burning of the Barrel and By the Fireside with Lisa McGuigan.

There's also a host of vertical tastings, vineyard tours and set-price lunches and dinners on offer during the Festival.

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Just a two-hour drive north of Sydney, the Hunter Valley is home to more than 150 wineries and is bursting with all the delights of its highly acclaimed food and wine culture. With accommodation and experience packages for every budget, the Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival is the perfect opportunity for a sumptuous winter getaway.

Here are some of the highlights of this year's program:

VERMOUTH COCKTAIL MASTERCLASS AT MARGAN: Every Saturday May & June
Become a master in the art of cocktails with the region's first Vermouth produced by Margan. Learn how to shake, swirl and sip a Negroni, Americano and Cobbler. Also, check out Margan's other fab events including the Original 100 Metre Meal, Meet the Farmer Dinner and a Nose to Tail Cooking School.

MAGNUM MADNESS: 5, 6, 26 & 27 May 2018
Join the team at the Hart & Hunter Cellar Door and enjoy a flight of five wines poured from magnums matched superbly with five delicious canapés.

OPEN DAY AT KEITH TULLOCH WINES: Saturday 26 May 2018
Enjoy a glass of wine and game of croquet at the Keith Tulloch Wine open day. Live entertainment, tastings in the winery and lawn games will keep you entertained.

INITIMATE CELLAR DOOR LUNCH AT TINONEE VINEYARD ESTATE: Saturday 23 June
Visit the home of Broke Fordwich's newest wine label 1813, as you enjoy a special cutting of the vines, estate tour followed by an intimate lunch at the newly renovated Tinonee Vineyard Estate.

To find out more about this year's Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival visit www.winecountry.com.au

To book your Hunter Valley Accommodation, browse our handpicked collection of Hunter Valley stays here, including alluxia favourites such as H Boutique Hotel.

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Image credit: Head chef Thomas Boyd of Margan in Broke. HVWTA by MJK Creative
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01
May
0

Emporium South Bank unveils Opal Restaurant in August

Posted on in Travel News

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The much-anticipated Emporium Hotel South Bank Brisbane is set to launch in July and will be hotly followed by the official opening of its signature restaurant Opal in August.

Highly acclaimed Brisbane Chef Josue 'Josh' Lopez will helm the signature restaurant, with Lopez describing the food as modern Australian, celebrating native ingredients through innovative cooking, taking a similar artistic approach that saw him lead GOMA Restaurant to a prestigious two-hat award-winner.

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Lopez said deciding on the restaurant name was a collaborative process with Emporium Hotel founders and owners Tony and Francine John. "We really wanted a name that portrays the beauty and richness of our country and, after many ideas were tabled, we decided the name of our national gemstone offered the preciousness and uniqueness we were searching for," he said. "Opals are important to Indigenous Australian culture, being known as 'fire of the desert', which we also felt was very fitting because fire is a critical component to cooking as well as in the ecology of Australia where many seeds lay dormant in the soil sometimes for years until fire bursts them open for new growth."

The menu will lean towards a degustation offering and feature dishes such as "Minjerribah" a seafood dish inspired by North Stradbroke Island (pictured above) and "Father and Son" which pairs local beef and veal with saltbush and beetroot (pictured below). For dessert, expect "Fire of the desert" a sweet interpretation of the translation of opal and a dish which will set the tone for what diners should expect when dining at Opal.

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Opal's design features will include a full-size wine cellar, spectacular recessed ceiling with feature lighting, a luxurious blend of stone, fabric and metal finishes and an intimate private dining room with kitchen views. The spectacular antique stained glass Parisian shop-front, a showpiece in the former Emporium Hotel Fortitude Valley's famed Cocktail Bar, also takes pride of place.

Emporium Hotels founder Tony John said the Opal's focus would be on providing diners a contemporary, innovative dining experience that couples Josh's original, celebrated cuisine with Emporium Hotel's exceptional style of service. "We are looking forward to delivering a fresh, new dining experience to not only our guests, but to Brisbane. As one of the key food and beverage offerings at Emporium Hotel South Bank, Opal will provide a more intimate, unique option that still presents value to the customer. We are combining our award-winning service with Josh's award-winning cuisine, and we couldn't be more excited to see where we can take it."

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The new flagship Emporium Hotel South Bank is set to open on July 1, 2018. Contact e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for Brisbane accommodation bookings.

Images: supplied
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25
Apr
0

Cartier Exhibition in Canberra

Posted on in Travel News

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Love a bit of bling? Then don't miss the dazzling new Cartier exhibition in Canberra this autumn!

Cartier: The Exhibition is a must-see; featuring over 300 exquisite pieces charting the prestigious Parisian jewellery house throughout 20th Century now on display at the National Gallery of Australian (NGA) for the first time in history.

The exhibition includes pieces from the Royal collection, including the famous halo tiara worn by The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton on her wedding day to Prince William and the diamond-encrusted rose brooch Princess Margaret wore to Queen Elizabeth's coronation plus a selection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's personal favourites.

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Princess Grace of Monaco's 10.48-carat diamond engagement ring will also be on display, alongside Elizabeth Taylor's famous platinum, gold and Burmese ruby necklace and other significant pieces from Cartier's famous clients, including royalty, aristocrats, global socialites, and movie stars.

"This is an unmissable opportunity to see masterpieces of this craftsmanship and quality up close" said Gerard Vaughan, NGA Director.

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Cartier: The Exhibition is a beautiful show full of history and style and a must-see for all Australians. Autumn is also a stunning time to visit Canberra, with crisp mornings and the brilliant hues of autumn leaves stretching across the nation's capital, the city is set to shine and sparkle with this dazzling exhibition.

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The exclusive Cartier: The Exhibition will be on display at the National Gallery of Australia from 30 March – 22 July 2018.

Book your Canberra accommodation from our handpicked collection of Canberra's best boutique hotels on alluxia.com here.

Images: supplied
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21
Apr
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Fortitude Valley Hotel Gets a Fresh Lick of Paint From International Street Artists

Posted on in Travel News

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Brisbane's only street art hotel, TRYP Fortitude Valley has received a fresh lick of paint with two very different new murals added by international artists this week.

Hong Kong artist Bao Ho, the first woman to add to TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel, Brisbane's collection, and Colombian artist Gris One took to the walls to wrap up the Brisbane Street Art Festival.

Bao Ho creates freestyle murals and illustrations featuring animated characters. She has collaborated with various international brands and worked on projects across the world, including in Australia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Italy and the Czech Republic.

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Gris One works around the world creating multi-colour compositions inspired by nature and day-to-day city life.

"Street art is a key facet of TRYP Fortitude Valley's identity and one of our main drawcards for guests, so it's exciting to have some new additions to our collection," said Hotel Manager Kim Knowles.

"We are proud to be able to give artists a platform to display their work while strengthening the street art culture in Brisbane."

Each floor at TRYP Fortitude Valley features works by a different artist, including Fintan Magee, Beastman, Rone and Numskull.

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Nestled amid the city's vibrant cultural precinct of Fortitude Valley, Tryp is surrounded by iconic bars, cafes, restaurants and other attractions, the hotel offers well-appointed rooms complete with coffee pod machines, interactive Lifestyle panel televisions and complimentary Wi-Fi.

TRYP Fortitude Valley also provides excellent service and impressive facilities including an onsite gym, meeting room, UP on Constance rooftop bar (Champagne anyone?) and popular burger restaurant, Chur.

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Tryp is a fun, affordable Valley hotel, ideal for city breaks for those that love their boutique hotels a little bit quirky and appreciate street art in all its glory. One of the most unique hotels you'll find in Brisbane and an alluxia favourite.

For more information and to book online with no booking fees, check it out here.

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15
Apr
0

Relax and rejuvenate at Gaia Retreat

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Ever wondered what it's like to go to a health retreat? We've previously compared two of Australia's best wellness retreats and you can read the verdict here. Our guide will help you decide which retreat is best for you.

Each year we arrange for a bunch of like-minded ladies to take some time out and escape to luxury at a wellness retreat and we opted to return to Gaia Retreat again with gusto!

Gaia Retreat is co-owned by Olivia Newton-John and long-time friend Gregg Cave and located in the Byron Bay Hinterland around 2 hours from Brisbane or 20 minutes from Ballina Airport. Gaia provided transfers as part of the package for our interstate guests, making access a breeze. The retreat is majestically poised on the highest point in the region and boasts a dramatic backdrop of undulating hills and green valleys that have a calming and transformational affect on all who visit.

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Gaia Retreat is quite simply heaven on earth and here's why. It's luxurious, delicious, relaxing, rejuvenating...it's total bliss.

It's easy to feel instantly relaxed at Gaia, from the moment you pass through the ornately carved wooden gates, meander through the lush gardens and check in at Kukura House, you know you've arrived somewhere special. Our tip, pack light you'll end up living in active wear, swimmers and wrapping yourself luxuriously in the batic robes all day, despite the stylish and luxurious surrounds the retreat is not pretentious, it's a no-make-up, wear-your-tracksuit-pants all-day kinda place, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

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Gaia has recently undergone a facelift including new soft furnishings in the main house and restaurant, fabulous hanging chairs on the verandah, new paths throughout the retreat and some upgrades around the pool & day spa area. Regular guests will notice the subtle changes, but it has still retained the same peaceful Gaia vibe.

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Gaia is a retreat where you can literally hand all the decision-making over to the staff and focus on reconnecting with yourself and nature. Prior to arrival you complete a wellness form outlining your health concerns and food preferences plus pre-booking your spa treatments. All that pre-planning allows for bespoke gourmet meals tailored to your dietary requirements and a handwritten card presented each evening outlining your personalised activities for the day ahead. It's this level of personal service that sets Gaia apart.

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Image credit: B. Billing

Daily 90-minute yoga restores the balance and the surprising highlight of the weekend's activities was the sound meditation session. Sound meditation you say? It is the practice of using ancient Tibetan instruments to clear your mind and bring you into a deep state of meditation. As the instructor musically plays the crystal bowls, then a hypnotic pan flute and then breaks into song, it's truly magical. I know it sounds all new age woowoo, but it's quite simply magical!

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We also participated in an art therapy class where we were encouraged to peacefully paint a rock inspired by the journey that lead us to Gaia and then sculpt two art pieces, one representing what is holding us back and the other about letting it go. It was an emotional journey for the group and an unexpected bonding exercise, which left us feeling lighter and focused.

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Between activities, lazing by the sun-dappled pool is the order of the day here. Our group alternates between reading by the pool, soaking up the sunshine and popping in to the day spa for endless heavenly treatments. We may never leave!

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One of the true pleasures of Gaia is the food, as each and every meal is nourishing, inventive and changes daily chosen by the chef. Breakfast is a buffet laden with seasonal fruit, muesli, smoked salmon, avocado, tomatoes and more plus an abundance of super food toppings to sprinkle over everything – bee pollen anyone? But wait, there's more...a delicious hot breakfast follows your buffet grazing, so leave some room. Organic coffee is available on request so you don't have to go without your caffeine hit. Lunch is a flavour packed salad or pasta dish of a million different ingredients you wouldn't have a hope of recreating at home despite being able to purchase a Gaia Cookbook. Dinner is the main event with three delicious courses by candlelight and you can order wine from an impressive organic selection.

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Whether your intention is to lose weight, detoxify, destress, get fit or maybe you just need peace and serenity to regain balance; Gaia provides everything you need to help you on your path. You'll feel comfortable here alone, with a friend or partner or with a small group. It's an inspiring and nurturing retreat in a peaceful setting. It's quite simply the most relaxing retreat you can hope to find, with everyone in our group vowing to return soon.

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Want to join our next Gaia Retreat Wellness Weekend? Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to express your interest and we'll notify you of the next getaway or contact us to create your own journey.

All inclusive packages including two nights accommodation, all gourmet meals and snacks, morning yoga and all scheduled activities, $250 spa voucher per room, spa gift pack and use of all facilities start from around $500 per person per night, twin share minimum 2 night stay.

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Go for Gold!

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With all eyes on the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games, we take a look at what's new and why the Gold Coast shines.

"The Goldie" has seen an incredible transformation ever since the news broke in 2011 that the city would host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This was the catalyst for an influx of infrastructure projects, new glistening hotels, top-notch eateries and beautification of the glitter strip in readiness for games time. In short, the Gold Coast has never looked so good!

Dining and drinking
There was a time when the Gold Coast Highway was littered with 50's style motels and fast food chains, but times have changed, making way for a new wave of modern foodies. On the beach at Burleigh, you'll find one of the Gold Coast's brightest stars at Rick Shores. Overseen by Executive Chef Jake Pregnell, diners enjoy the bright, bold Pan-Asian menu overlooking the turquoise seas of Burleigh Heads Beach. Sound like heaven?

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Nearby, discover The Fish House and as the name suggests, you'll find the Gold Coast's freshest seafood at this fine diner. The beach house luxe interiors, efficient service and impeccable cuisine are only overshadowed by the dazzling views of Burleigh Beach.

In Surfers Paradise, you can't go passed QT's remodelled Japanese eatery Yamagen. In typical QT style, the fit out is bold and fun, the food inventive and delicious with a creative cocktail list to seal the deal.

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For brunch, our pick is Elk Espresso, a local institution that has been welcoming a mix of locals and visitors to its unassuming café in Broadbeach for years. It has recently moved into the hub of Broadbeach's Oasis Shopping precinct and can now boast beach views to go with your latte!

Shop til you Drop

Thanks to a $670 million renovation Pacific Fair, the Gold Coast's premier shopping centre is now a serious contender in the shopping stakes. Here you'll find high-end international brands such as Christian Louboutin, Chanel, Prada & Givenchy mixing it with popular chain stores such as H&M, Zara and Sephora. You'll also find Australian designers such as Aje, Sass & Bide and Manning Cartel flexing their fashion muscles.

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Sleep with Me
Gold Coast hotels have never been more sexy! Say goodbye to tropical print fabrics and wicker furniture of old and hello to luxury hotels with impeccable design and styling. The Star (formerly Jupiters Casino) has unveiled their new "six star" hotel The Darling which boasts an uber-chic rooftop lounge bar called Nineteen at The Star

The Island has taken the kitschy cool of the Gold Coast and amplified it to create a boutique hotel with modern accommodation, stunning rooftop bars and restaurants. It's luxe for less on the glitter strip.

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In Burleigh, you'll find a new beachside hidden gem with bespoke furnishings by designer diva Anna Spiro, of Halcyon House fame. The three bedroom Bon Sol apartment has swoon worthy interiors, complete with bar cart for mixing those beachy cocktails, umbrella optional. Also in Burleigh, book our favourite beachside abode, Bujerum Apartments.

Not to be outdone, there's newcomer the Ruby Collection; four towers on the site of the original Surfers Paradise Resort which will continue to change the face of the GC. The first 5 star tower will feature 230 apartments and 13 villas and is due to open in November 2018.

In the meantime, if you lust for laid back luxury with absolute beachfront location, then consider the chaming Dorchester on the Beach. Modern apartments, awe-inspiring views with professional service that just can't be beat.

Have you discovered the Gold Coast recently? What's your favourite find?

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Girls' Weekend in Melbourne

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Planning a girls getaway can be logistically challenging, firstly there's co-ordinating schedules to find a date everyone is available and then arranging the husbands and kids if you have families to wrangle, so you can enjoy a well earned break with your best girlfriends.

Deciding on the destination was surprisingly easy for our group of gals. Our wish list extended to shopping, dining, culture and relaxing in equal measure, so Melbourne easily won our vote. I sent a shortlist of hotels to the girls to consider and they unanimously agreed to book Ovolo Laneways, as it offered the best location – central city and surrounded by restaurants and bars and included a host of included extras like free minibar and free breakfast, so while it wasn't the cheapest option, it provided the best quality and value for our two night getaway.

After an early morning flight, our first stop in Melbourne was in search of COFFEE, surely an easy request in this coffee loving city...

Where we ate and drank

The European: off the plane and straight to the European, an old favourite and Melbourne institution. It's like being transported back to Italy, with dark interiors and bustling with efficient staff. The crumbed soft egg with asparagus soldiers was the pick of the brunch menu.

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Rice Paper Scissors: We didn't need to wander far from our hotel to find exceptional food, we simply headed around the corner to Rice Paper Scissors, which came highly recommended. We added our name to the waitlist and returned 40 minutes later to a meal that was worth waiting for! We were perched on a communal table and made friends with a fabulous couple who shared their wine – winning! Absolutely choose the 5 dishes for 2 people for $65 option with Betel Leaf with smoked scallop and crispy pork belly salad with fresh betel leaves and chilli caramel sauce a real standout.

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Punch Lane Wine Bar: a cosy wine bar neighbouring Ovolo Laneways, it is an ideal spot for cocktails and watching the comings and goings of laneway life.

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Self Preservation Coffee: an inviting and creative space on Bourke St surrounded by art and wine. Time permitting, I would have loved to return to this gem by night.

Archie's All Day: Hungry? Thirsty? Archie's has you covered with an inventive menu, friendly staff, cool tunes and cocktails – the perfect spot for a boozy brunch. I had the special - Roasted Pumpkin Hommus with pomegranate, almonds, freekah, haloumi, poached egg and Turkish bread, but every dish looked the goods. This was the kind of café you wished was your local.

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Alimentari: another neighbourhood diner you wished was in your 'hood. This deli has been in Fitzroy for 20 years and it's not hard to see why with quality Panini, wraps and scrumptious items from the deli cabinet.

Marion Wine Bar: after a day shopping in Fitzroy, the inviting setting of Marion's with its warmth and simplicity beckoned us in for a vino.

Bomba Spanish Tapas & Rooftop: Great atmosphere at Bomba, where we grazed on tasty morsels and enjoyed carafes of Spanish Spritz – Aperol, Casa Mariol Blanco, Soda, Lime and Orange. Ole!

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Siglo Bar: a great late night spot for cocktails with views of the floodlit columned façade of Parliament, the spire of St Patrick's Cathedral and the domes of the Princess Theatre. It's Parisian chic, but the waft of Cuban cigars from other patrons can be overwhelming at times.

Longsong: also worth checking out the converted horse stables above Longrain, which is now a new bar, it's a great space with exposed brick walls, soaring loft ceilings and original stable floors.

Osteria Ilaria: I do love sitting at the bar and watching the chefs work their magic right in front of your eyes. We sat, we drank and ate plate-fulls of tasty Italian morsels. Bliss!

Where we shopped

While Melbourne is like any other city, with all the major chain stores available, there is the allure and promise that you'll discover something special. We'd arrived during the Black Friday sales (observed on the Friday after USA Thanksgiving) which was fortuitous and I highly recommend planning that time for a future girls getaway and some pre-Christmas shopping.

While we browsed Burke Street Mall and Melbourne Emporium, we soon longed for something more unique and hightailed it to Fitzroy.

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Olga de Polga: Quirky vintage inspired fashion designed in Melbourne, featuring bold colourful creations.

Zetta Florence: beautiful stationery and homewares store embracing the fine art of letter writing and journals.

Leonard St: Quirky clothes designed by Amanda McCarthy featuring bold prints, colour and beautiful fabrics.

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The LAIR: a concept store originating in Newcastle NSW and now also in Melbourne featuring a curated collection of clothing brands.

Design Dispensary: Unique, designer homewares from boutique designers across the globe.

Where we stayed
Ovolo Laneways is ideal for a Melbourne girls' getaway, located within walking distance of Melbourne's best bars and restaurants, as well as an easy walk to Melbourne's major shopping precincts. We splurged on the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Terrace Suite with plenty of room for a party of 4. While we didn't touch the well equipped kitchen, we loved stretching out on the sunny private terrace with city views. We also loved the Ovolo freebies including free Grab n Go breakfast, free daily happy hour, free mini-bar, welcome snacks and more.

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So tell me, where's your favourite place to dine, drink and shop in Melbourne for a girls' getaway?

Ovolo Laneways
19 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Book Ovolo Laneways here.

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5 Last Minute Easter Long Weekend Escapes

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Easter is upon us and it's time to slip into the annual chocolate coma and indulge in all things decadent - Easter bunnies & hot cross buns before breakfast and oh so much laziness. Better than a weekend getaway, but not so long you need someone to water the plants, the 4 day long weekend provides a great escape and will surely cure all that ails you.

If the Easter break has snuck up on you, take inspiration from our Top 5 Last Minute Easter Escapes. Whether you're dreaming of a romantic getaway for two, family holiday or group getaway with friends, there's an ideal destination for you. We're sure the Easter Bunny won't mind hopping to Port Douglas to find you!

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1. Thala Beach Nature Reserve, Port Douglas
This privately owned, independent eco resort isn't just environmentally sensitive it's luxe too! Relax in peaceful bungalows, dine at onsite Osprey's restaurant and chill at the secluded beach. Sound like heaven? Book here.

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2. The Rise Noosa, Sunshine Coast
It's no secret we love Noosa and the Sunshine Coast for its beaches, boutiques and dining. The Rise Noosa has last minute two bedroom apartments available this Easter for $550/night (normally $800/night) this breezy and modern hilltop hideaway is generously proportioned to cater effortlessly for group getaways or family holidays and an easy stroll down to Hastings Street. Instantly bookable here.

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3. Menso South Bank, Brisbane
South Bank is the perfect spot to relax in Brisbane this long weekend, with a choice of restaurants and bars right on your doorstop. Take a city break at Menso South Bank Brisbane where it's still warm enough to take a dip in the rooftop pool this Autumn. Book now with Studio Apartments from $144 per night.

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4. H Boutique Hotel, Hunter Valley
How about a long weekend in the Hunter, sipping wines and dining out at award winning restaurants? Sound like a plan? H Boutique Hotel is super central to all the best wineries and makes the perfect base for your wine weekend. Book your Easter getaway here.

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5. Kudos Villas, Daylesford
Recharge your batteries in the spa capital of Australia and rejuvenate at Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. Escape to the romantic haven of Kudos Villas and their Kudos Fire Villa designed exclusively for couples featuring open fireplace, love seat and romantic spa bath. Book your Easter Escape to Kudos Villas here.

All options are instantly bookable with no booking or credit card fees. Subject to availability and minimum stay requirements may apply, check terms & conditions under listing details. For more options, simply search here by state, region and your preferred dates and go!

Where is your favourite Easter getaway destination? Do you prefer a coastal, country or city escape?

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Mar
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Bendooley Estate Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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My Instagram profile states 'lover of food, wine, travel & books' and so imagine my sheer delight to find a retreat that combines all my favourite things in one heavenly package! Say farewell to the city and hello to the ultimate escape to the country at the stylish Bendooley Estate.

Bendooley Estate located in the Southern Highlands, 90 minutes from Sydney has recently opened additional cottages to complement its existing Book Barn Cottage. The extra one, two and three bedroom cottages are the perfect luxury addition to the onsite offerings which include the iconic Berkelouw Book Barn, restaurant & bar, wedding venue and award-winning cellar door.

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The rustic luxe cottages are clad in sustainable Australian hardwood and are sympathetic to the environment, blending in to the landscape seamlessly and surrounded by natural bushland. Step inside though and you'll be greeted by luxurious interiors, whimsical colours, patterns and textures inspired by the UK's Kit Kemp (Firmdale Hotels) but with a firm focus on Australian design and style.

A charming nod to the Berkelouw Books heritage, each cottage is named after famous Australian authors – Norman Lindsay, Henry Lawson, Banjo Patterson, Patrick White and May Gibbs. I had the pleasure of checking in to the Norman Lindsay, a spacious one-bedroom cottage decked out in yellow & blue calming tones with bespoke wallpaper and contrasting upholstered bedheads and eclectic furniture.

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Be still my beating heart, the enormous bathroom boasting handmade floor tiles features a deep free-standing bath and Appelles amenities including 'bath caviar' for some serious soaking! Each cottage has been individually styled and I'd love to see more books sneak in to the holiday haven, particular from the namesake authors. No doubt, this is on the way as the cottages are still brand new and the team are still busily adding items and working out the service kinks.

I highly recommend you settle in and take advantage of the onsite catering options such as the Bendooley charcuterie board filled with cured meats, chicken liver pate, olives, cornichons and toasted Turkish bread. Add a selection of cheeses and some Bendooley wine and you have yourself the perfect night in

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Sleep soundly on the cloud-like beds and enjoy breakfast on the private veranda taking in the rural views. Breakfast is a simple continental affair featuring a baguette, condiments, homemade granola with yoghurt, seasonal fruit and orange juice. The room is kitted out with a wide selection of T2 teas and a Nespresso machine to keep you caffeinated and ready to explore the stunning Southern Highlands.

For weekend getaways, you're spoilt for choice with restaurants, cafes and boutiques all open for your dining and shopping pleasure. While I highly encourage midweek mini-breaks, you just need to plan a little more carefully as many restaurants in the region close on Monday/Tuesday.

While our one bedroom had a petite kitchenette, the two and three bedroom cottages are fully self-contained with well-equipped kitchens, separate living areas and wood fireplaces which are bound to be popular in the cooler months. The original two-bedroom Book Barn Cottage will also be completely refurbished to complement the new cottages.

Bendooley Estate has created the ultimate country retreat, allowing guests to soak up the beauty of the estate grounds in an incredibly luxurious and intimate setting.

Bendooley Estate
3020 Old Hume Highway, Berrima NSW 2577
Book Bendooley Estate here. One Bedroom cottage, midweek from $295 per night.

The writer was a guest of Bendooley Estate

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Hottest New Hotel Openings in 2018

Posted on in Travel Tips

This year is off and racing with a plethora of hot new hotels slated to open across Australia in 2018. Sure there are plenty of new hotels of the chain variety set to open in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, but we have our eye for style on the boutique, unique and preferably independent.

Here are details of the most anticipated new hotel openings in 2018:

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The Darling, Gold Coast
The new luxury suite hotel currently taking shape at the front of the Star Gold Coast will be known as The Darling, while the existing hotel will now be known as The Star Grand.
The Darling (pictured above) will feature 57 luxury suites from 70 to 328 sqm in size, with butler service and the finest features. New signature bars and restaurants and of course gaming facilities will be the centrepiece of this luxurious six-star hotel. The Darling, opening early 2018.

The Tasman, Hobart
The Tasman will reside in an assortment of repurposed heritage buildings and will form a prominent position in Parliament Square, in a new design-led development set to revitalise Hobart's city centre. The Tasman will offer guests 128 luxurious rooms and suites featuring Georgian and Art-Deco design elements throughout. The Tasman is expected to open late 2018.

HSW/Art Series, Brisbane
All eyes are on Brisbane and the Howard Smith Wharves redevelopment (pictured below) transforming the riverside precinct into an exhibition centre, restaurants, cafes and 165-room luxury hotel. The hotel is being developed by the Deague Group, who recently sold management of their Art Series Hotels brand to Mantra, therefore a name for the new HSW hotel is yet to be confirmed.

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W Brisbane
The first internationally-branded five-star hotel to open in Brisbane's CBD in 20 years, the opening of W Brisbane will mark the re-entry of the iconic W brand into Australia. On track and due to open 15 March 2018, the 312 rooms and suites are located in a prime position overlooking the Brisbane River.

Emporium Hotel Southpoint, Brisbane
It's been a long time in the planning, but Emporium Hotel Southpoint is due to open mid-2018. Located in South Bank and featuring 143 luxuriously appointed suites, premium food & beverage options by acclaimed Brisbane chef Josue Lopez and spectacular 23m rooftop infinity edge pool and bar this will be a hotel launch not to be missed.

Felix by 8Hotels, Sydney
With a jetsetting Mad Men retro style, 8Hotels has just launched an airport hotel with a difference. Felix is a 150 room boutique hotel with a Penthouse boasting a 24-hour food shop, cocktail bar and outdoor cinema! 8Hotels is making a come back, with more hotels planned including Little Albion Surry Hills and another development in Pyrmont.

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Salt at Shoal Bay
We've been watching this new development with interest and delays have pushed back its opening date, but an opening is imminent this summer. The white washed styling beachside accommodation is directly opposite magical Shoal Bay beach and we can't wait to take a peek!

The Pub with Two Names, Ballarat
We got the scoop in February last year when we met artistic dynamic duo David and Yuge Bromley who had just purchased the Peter Lalor Hotel/Royal Highlander Hotel in Ballarat with plans to transform the pub into a boutique hotel. The development now known as 'The Pub with Two Names' is set to open in early 2018 in collaboration with Ballarat food and beverage operators Iain Gunn and Donatello Pietrantuono.

The Colony at Mandoon Estate, Swan Valley
Ok, technically it opened in December 2017, but it's still so shiny and new we had to share! The Colony (featured below) features 32 beautifully appointed rooms & suites, overlooking the historic Verdelho vines on the banks of the Swan River. This getaway is the perfect base to enjoy all Mandoon Estate has to offer including Wild Swan fine dining, casual dining, wine tasting and more. Coming to alluxia very soon...

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Cygnet Old Bank, Southern Tasmania
We first fell in love with this grand old Victorian building when it was the base for Cygneture Chocolates, now it has been restored and reopened as an elegant, stylish retreat in the heart of Cygnet. Cygnet Old Bank boasts three suites and complimentary breakfast served in the conservatory. Cygnet Old Bank B&B is just 45 minutes south of Hobart in the Huon Valley.

Spicers Guest House, Hunter Valley
The Guest House is currently closed for extensive renovations and luxury upgrades, ready to re-open as Spicers Guest House in the second half of 2018. If you love all things Spicers, you'll love this new retreat which is expected to boast new conference facilities, luxury room refurbishments, a beautiful new pool and enchanting wedding chapel.

The Calile, Brisbane
Designed by Richards & Spence Architects, The Cailile is taking shape in James Street. The luxury hotel will feature ground floor boutiques and eateries and 178 rooms and suites over seven stories. Sure to be popular with Queenslanders will be the glamorous pool, poolside cabanas, poolside restaurant, day spa, fitness centre and business centre. Plus the podium level with house a divisable function room for up to 300 guests banquet style and basement parking for 220 vehicles. Due to open Spring 2018 and managed by TFE under the TFE Hotels Collection brand.

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Riley, Cairns
Australian based Crystalbrook Collection will be opening the first of three new hotels in Cairns this year! The five star Riley (pictured above) will feature 311 rooms and suites, boast 4 restaurants and bars including a rooftop tower bar 42m above sea level. Guests will relax amongst 1,037 sqm of lagoon pool and private beach and be pampered in the day spa. The new 'Bailey' hotel will follow in mid-2019 and 'Flynn' in 2020.

Worth waiting for...
Jackalope, Melbourne
Last year's most anticipated opening went to Jackalope Mornington Peninsula and could now be superseded by its sister property Jackalope Melbourne, a 32 room designer hotel set to open on Flinders Lane in 2020.

Have we missed any fab new luxury boutique hotel developments set to open in 2018? Let us know below!

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2018 Hottest Travel Trends

Posted on in Travel Tips

Want to know the hottest destinations and trends in the Australian travel scene right now? We asked a team of experts for their picks for 2018.

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Winsor Dobbin - Travel Writer & Blogger

I think Australian travellers will continue to be adventurous - but with a bit of luxury thrown in. I see beach shacks and glamping as major trends - but with fridges, freezers and hi-tech barbeques.

We can expect travellers to continue to be impromptu; with more and more options people are willing to leave their destination and accommodation choices until the last minute - taking a risk they can still find something suitable but not wanting to be locked into arrangements too far in advance.

I see cool-climate wine regions in Victoria and Tasmania continuing to boom - tastes are changing and pinot noir is growing in popularity. Wine and food will continue to be major destination drivers.

As people work harder and have less leisure time they will be more willing to splash out on luxury experiences, particularly two- or three-night breaks away from the kids.

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Sarah Harrison - Traveller & Writer

I believe we're set for a greater emergence of affordable and accessible luxury travel that's more practical than it is pretentious – stylish but liveable accommodation, all-in-one packages that don't sacrifice quality, and allowing luxe lovers to choose more of what they want and less of what they don't. We'll see more creative offerings, collaborations and reward schemes that will benefit the astute traveller as hotels get more savvy with their approach to customer experience and digital marketing.

Improved diligence around sustainability, including sourcing locally, will create a feel-good win-win for everyone. It's a great year for building kudos and better experiences.

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Gwen O'Toole-Luscombe - Travel Writer

2018 seems to have quite a focus on solo travel. I don't think people hesitate anymore when it comes to venturing out and having an incredible solo travel experience. It seems more travel companies are targeting programs to the solo traveller. Another trend seems be travellers forgoing the 'visit as many cities and attractions in the shortest time period possible' style of travel to tick more boxes and instead are opting for actually staying put and having more immersive experiences. Less riding around on sightseeing buses to see it all and more staying put to fully enjoy and truly experience the culture and the food and local lifestyle of fewer locations.

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Lisa Holmen - Travel Blogger

Far North Queensland is likely to be one of the hottest travel destinations of 2018 as many make the epic road trip from Cairns to Cape Yorke. Destinations like the Great Barrier Reef and Port Douglas will continue to be popular but many travellers are seeing more remote locations off the typical tourist route. My tip for an indulgent weekender is Orpheus Island, a private island on the Great Barrier Reef.

I see slow travel and digital nomading becoming more popular in the future, as people are seeking more flexibility from office life and are pursuing the road less travelled. The van life movement is getting stronger. I am actually planning on renovating a van to a camper this year to travel throughout Australia!

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Rachel Bale - Travel Blogger

The well-trodden tourist trail in Western Europe isn't going to dry up any time soon. In fact, more visitors than ever before are pouring into Europe. What this has meant, however, is that many destinations are unbearably overcrowded. This has resulted in a visitor crackdown in some of Europe's most touristy cities, including anti-tourism protests, caps on numbers and even bans on selfie sticks. While it's hard to imagine that visitors will turn their backs on the likes of Italy, Spain and France, 2018 will see more visitors venturing to explore Europe's more under-the-radar destinations including Poland, Slovenia and Cyprus.

Locally, destinations like Rottnest Island in WA and the Fleurieu Peninsula in SA are on the hot list.

Thank you to our favourite editors, writers and bloggers for their trusted tips.

Image credit: Joseph Chromy, Pumphouse Point, Gaia Retreat, Silky Oaks, South Australia.

 

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Jan
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Last Minute Long Weekends

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Long weekends are made for mini breaks! Whether it's a city break, staycation or beach getaway, we have you covered with last minute availability and deals in your favourite destinations.

Across Australia, here's our pick for last minute long weekend deals:

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Queensland

Brisbane - Sage James Street from $159 per night

Sunshine Coast - Country House at Hunchy from $330 per night

Gold Coast - O'Reilly's Rainforest Resort from $179 per night

Southern Queensland Country - Potters Boutique Hotel from $169 per night

Whitsundays - Heart Hotel & Gallery from $200 per night (pictured above)

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New South Wales

Sydney - Veriu Broadway from $179 per night (pictured above)

Hunter Valley - H Boutique Hotel from $129 per night

Country NSW/Southern Highlands - Fitroy Inn from $250 per night

Blue Mountains - Moments Mountain Retreat from $299 per night

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Victoria

Melbourne & surrounds - The Blackman from $199 per night (pictured)

Mornington Peninsula - Arleston Cottage from $265 per night

Yarra Valley - 3 Kings Bed & Breakfast from $285 per night

Daylesford & Macedon Ranges - Blue Cliffs Retreat from $330 per night

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Australian Capital Territory

Canberra - Little National Hotel from $155 per night

South Australia

Adelaide & surrounds - 5 Rooms at Stirling from $310 per night

Tasmania

Hobart/Southern Tasmania - Villa Rochford from $345 per night (pictured above)

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Western Australia

Perth - Sage Hotel West Perth from $149 per night

North West/Broome - Mangrove Hotel Broome from $159 per night (pictured above)

Rates are subject to availability and minimum stay requirements and conditions may apply. Please review the terms & conditions of each property before booking. Rates are correct at time of writing but subject to change without notice.

 

 

 

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Jan
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Ovolo Hotels announces another Australian acquisition

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Last week we brought you the news that Hong Kong boutique hotel group Ovolo had acquired Emporium Hotel Brisbane and now Ovolo has secured the rights to manage Hotel Hotel Canberra!

The private sale between Molonglo Group and Ovolo includes the hotel and hatted restaurant Monster Kitchen and Bar. It is the first time Ovolo has not acquired the underlying real estate for one of its Australian hotels.

This move represents the Ovolo Group's continued aspiration to explore the hotel landscape and their interest in taking on additional management arrangements with other selected boutique hotels in the near future.

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"Ovolo has been well received in Australia and we are proud to bring our signature concept to the Australian capital. We believe this venture is the perfect alignment and are delighted to be associated with this property." said Girish Jhunjhnuwala, CEO of Ovolo Group.

"This marks an exciting time for Ovolo and we look forward to entering the Canberra market with this incredible asset." said Dave Baswal, COO of Ovolo Group.

Hotel Hotel burst onto the scene in 2013, created by Molonglo Group, an artisan focused property developer in collaboration with Australian and international designers and artists. The result was a carefully curated collection of artworks, objects and furnishings throughout the hotel, creating a hotel like no other.

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The property development and creative production house, Molonglo Group, will be working on a number of architecture, design, cultural and experimental projects in 2018; across Australia and internationally.

Ovolo Hotels will now operate in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, signalling rapid expansion for the company with three new hotels joining its portfolio in the last six months - Inchcolm, Emporium and Hotel Hotel.

Ovolo Hotel Group will commence managing Hotel Hotel from 1 March 2018.

You Might Also Like: Ovolo Acquires Emporium Hotel Brisbane

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16
Jan
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Halcyon House Day Spa

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Last month we were lunching poolside at Paper Daisy at Halcyon House and noticed some serious construction going on adjacent to the carpark. Curious, we peeked through the fence and saw glimpses of Anna Spiro design gorgeousness. We were reliably informed, this new project is the Halcyon House Day Spa which opened quietly in late December.

Halcyon Spa brings the signature Halcyon style to the new luxurious spa sanctuary, featuring stunningly appointed treatment rooms, a tranquil relaxation area, full amenity change facilities and a unique dome-shaped steam bath.

A boutique of carefully curated collection of lifestyle products including fashion, wellbeing and skincare items all available at the onsite shop, tempting guests with "must-have" items.

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Halcyon Spa will focus on your overall wellbeing with a holistic approach to uniting mind, body and spirit. Your personalised spa journey begins with products from iconic Australian skincare brand Sodashi.

From soul-soothing treatment rituals to restorative facial therapy, along with traditional beautifying services, you won't want to leave this tranquil seaside day spa.

Try the Halcyon Signature Radiance Facial to leave your skin feeling calm and hydrated as a result of layering Sodashi's finest plant essences. The treatment includes an indulgent facial massage and mask for 60 minutes - $150.

Did someone say Babymoon? If you're escaping the city for a last hurrah, try the Pregnancy Massage, a nurturing, safe and relaxing massage for mums-to-be. The 60 minute pregnancy massage is $155.

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Be poolside ready with a Halcyon Pedicure! This treatment begins with a revitalising foot soak and invigorating sea salt polish before your feet are buffed back into shape. 60 minute pedicure for $125.

Use of the shared steam bath is also complimentary for Halcyon Spa guests enjoying treatments of one hour or more. Halcyon Spa also accepts group bookings, making it the perfect idea for a bridal shower or girl's getaway.

Halcyon Spa is available for guests visiting for the day as well as in-house guests. We recommend a mid-week getaway or staycation to soak up the new Halcyon Spa.

Halcyon Spa at Halcyon House
21 Cypress Crescent, Cabarita Beach NSW e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Jan
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Brunswick Heads Motel Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Of all the hotels we visited last year, there is only one we made a return visit to – Brunswick Heads Motel.

I'll admit it doesn't sound as glamorous as some of the other establishments you'll find on alluxia, however don't be put off by the "motel" moniker. What this "Motel" offers is impressive service, cool rooms and incredible poolside breakfast set in the relaxed seaside town of Brunswick Heads.

While many flock to Byron Bay for it's popular beaches and bars, if you want to experience the Byron of yesteryear, head 20 minutes north to Brunswick Heads for some retro-style beach town nostalgia. Don't be fooled by the laid-back locals and slower pace of life; this town is punching above its weight in the foodie stakes, with a plethora of great dining spots including the award-winning Fleet.

Fleet is a destination restaurant, a small 'blink and you miss it' bar seating just 14 guests. Given its reputation and calibre of food, the restaurant is in high demand with a waitlist up to 3 months in advance. Our hot tip; secure your reservation at Fleet first before booking your holiday in Bruns.

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While Brunswick Heads Motel's façade has had a full makeover, there is no hiding the motel style setup, think long row of rooms and parking out the front, but that's where the similarities end. You'll receive the warmest of welcomes and wait...I'm being escorted to my room and there's a welcome note and gourmet chocolates on arrival? This level of service is all due to the powerhouse team of Managers Emma Alcorn and Nick Johns, whose 5 star island resort background has been transplanted to this little coastal gem.

Inside, the basic motel room has been transformed into a tropical oasis with white gleaming walls and furnishings with a splash of colour from the tropical feature wall, palm tree print cushions and Tommy Bahama amenities. The bedding is of a superior quality so you're guaranteed a great night's sleep and with Smart TV and Netflix, you'll want to laze in bed all day.

But rise and shine you must, as the complimentary breakfast is not be missed! When you think free motel breakfast, you think square little packets of cereal and instant coffee, but that's a far cry from the gourmet offering served at Brunswick Heads Motel. Choose from a delicious selection of breakfast items such as Brookfarm Muesli, Sol Organic Breads or new items to the menu such as Sol Breads organic banana bread, Pepe Saya mascarpone, orange and cacau crumble or Byron Bay ham, Norco cheese, toasted sourdough, piccalilli on the side. All enjoyed poolside or delivered to your room with a side of Byron Bay Bun espresso coffee or Byron Bay Tea.

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The motel is fully licensed now too, so you can enjoy a beverage poolside in one of the shady cabanas and the minibar is fully stocked with quality, premium local brands. Other generous inclusions are free wifi, and complimentary hire of Stand Up Paddle Boards and Bondi Cruiser Bikes to explore Bruns.

Heading out to the beach, Nick stops me and shares some local advice by suggesting the gentle waters of Torakina Beach. He's right, it's just perfect; a small beach fringed by bushland and protected by rock walls with shady trees to laze under and calm waters to swim in. It's idyllic.

After some fun in the sun it's time to explore the town. It's a great spot to wander, with a selection of shops to browse including Mimi & Flo for some coastal boho style, Sunshine Trader for homewares and local artisan products and Fabulous Mrs Fox for something more eclectic. Afterwards, head to the iconic Hotel Brunswick; the real heartbeat of Bruns this pub is popular with both locals and visitors alike. It's more than just your typical country pub, located in the town centre it has a sunny beer garden with live music and is the perfect spot for a Sunday session.

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Brunswick Heads is a nostalgic retro-style beach town worth exploring. With impressive dining, great beaches and a laid-back attitude, it's the ideal coastal getaway. A stay at Brunswick Heads Motel is a luxe for less experience that will have you coming back time and time again.

Brunswick Heads Motel – 2-6 Old Pacific Hwy, Brunswick Heads
Book online with alluxia for instant confirmation and no booking fees – from $139 per night including breakfast.

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Jan
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Ovolo acquires Emporium Hotel Brisbane

Posted on in Travel Tips

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2018 is off to an exciting start with the news Ovolo Group has acquired Brisbane's acclaimed Emporium Hotel!

This news follows Ovolo's earlier acquisition of The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites, which is currently closed for renovations and reopening on 22 January 2018 after receiving its Ovolo makeover. The move marks another milestone for the rapidly expanding Ovolo brand, increasing its number of rooms on offer in Brisbane to more than 150.

As a group aimed at speaking to the ever-changing needs of the modern traveller through sleek interior designs, detail-driven comforts and an all-inclusive service, the addition of the Ovolo signature to Fortitude Valley continues to build on the area's vibrancy and style. 

CEO and Chairman of the Ovolo Group, Girish Jhunjhnuwala said: "The Emporium Hotel in Brisbane was an obvious choice for the brand given its incredible success to date, its boutique nature and appealing location in the Fortitude Valley retail and dining precinct. We are excited to take this fantastic property to the next level with Ovolo's signature luxury design interiors and all-inclusive hospitality concept."

Emporium Hotel founder and Managing Director, Tony John, of the Anthony John Group said; "For the past 10 years, the Emporium Hotel team has dedicated itself to providing an award winning, highly personalised, boutique hotel experience. However, we've decided the time is right to sell our Fortitude Valley property, allowing the team time to focus on the 2018 opening of our luxury boutique Southpoint Emporium Hotel."

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National Director of CBRE Hotels, Wayne Bunz noted this off-market transaction is a very positive sign for the market.
"The sale highlights investors growing interest in the Brisbane hotel market. CBRE continue to field investor demand for investment opportunities, with the Emporium Hotel sale negotiated in a record time of just four weeks."

Settlement of Ovolo's acquisition of Emporium Hotel is set to be finalised in April after which the hotel will undergo a series of refurbishment and rebranding that will transform it into a distinctly Ovolo hotel.

Founded by Girish Jhunjhnuwala in 2002, Ovolo Hotels has become one of Hong Kong's largest independent owner, operator hospitality firms, by providing business and leisure guests with the best in effortless living. The company keeps in touch with the modern traveller through award- winning interior designs, detail-driven comforts, focused all-inclusive service and cutting-edge ensuite technology, all done in Ovolo's signature style. A proud Hong Kong brand, Ovolo remains a family-owned and privately-operated business with a charitable core.

The company now runs four hotels and a service apartment in Hong Kong, and three hotels across Sydney and Melbourne including Ovolo Woolloomooloo, Ovolo 1888 and Ovolo Laneways.

You Might Also Like: Ovolo acquires Inchcolm Brisbane

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Jan
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What’s New on Alluxia – Summer 2018

Posted on in Travel Tips

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If your new year's resolution is for more travel and adventure, then we have the inspiration for you! While school holidays are still underway, for many it's back to work and dreaming of your next getaway. Avoid the post-holiday blues by planning your next escape plan.

Here's our latest finds...

Queensland
The Island Boutique Hotel, Gold Coast – incredible transformation on the glitter strip (pictured above)
Currumbin Hill Beachhouse, Gold Coast – 3 bedroom holiday house with stunning GC views
The Country House at Hunchy, Sunshine Coast Hinterland – charming hosts and beautiful rooms at this hinterland B&B
Belles at Montville, Sunshine Coast Hinterland – a stylish hinterland retreat for couples
The Farmhouse, Sunshine Coast Hinterland – stylish hinterland B&B
The Bunyip, Scenic Rim – luxury and seclusion with stunning views

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New South Wales
The Beach Resort Cabarita, North Coast – affordable beachfront living
Brunswick Heads Motel, North Coast – fall in love with this luxe for less inn
The Ultimate Hamptons Beach House, North Coast – beautifully styled beach house
Turtle Bay, North Coast – 4 bedroom holiday house ideal for group getaways
Bathhouse Newrybar, North Coast – sprawling house with day spa facilities
Blackwattle Luxury Retreats, North Coast – secluded and romantic Hunter Valley getaway
Oceanview Terrace, North Coast – impressive tri-level house with stunning Newcastle Beach ocean views
Hampden House, South Coast – original house filled with charm and character
The COTTAGE, South Coast – simple and stylish and oh so Insta worthy!
Soul of Gerringong, South Coast – the coolest new addition to the coast (pictured above)
Blackwattle Luxury Retreats – secluded and romantic Hunter Valley getaway

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Tasmania
Villa Rochford, Hobart/Southern – open plan lodge on a picturesque olive grove (pictured above)

Victoria
Chocolate Gannets, Great Ocean Road – spacious villas and views for days
Lorne World, Great Ocean Road – unique and quirky with each room inspired by exotic destinations

South Australia
Karawatha Cottages, Fleurieu – self-contained cottages close to McLaren Vale wineries

Western Australia
Hougoumont Hotel – fun Fremantle hotel made from container ship!
Sage West Perth – modern meets heritage with style
Haven on the Park – self-contained artistic haven

Where would you like to make your escape to luxury?

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03
Jan
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Summer Beach Reads

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Summer holidays are the best time to relax, recharge and indulge in some quality holiday reading. Whether you opt for a challenging read or some 'lady literature' get lost in the romance of a book this summer.

Here's some recommended reads for the summer holidays:

The Dry by Jane Harper
This highly acclaimed book by Australian novelist Jane Harper was hands down our favourite book of 2017! This page-turning debut mystery is set in a small town hiding some big secrets. The followup 'Force of Nature' was just as gripping!

The Midnight Line by Lee Child
The latest novel by British writer Lee Child, 'The Midnight Line' is the twenty-second book in the Jack Reacher series. Reacher is still shaken by the recent horrors of 'Make Me' and now 'The Midnight Line' sees him on a simple quest for justice. An ideal beach read.

Parting Words by Cass Moriarty
Another fabulous Australian novelist, Cass' debut novel 'The Promise Seed' was also one of our favourites last year. Her latest novel 'Parting Words' tackles a great plot whereby three children must hand-deliver letters addressed to strangers from their father's past in order to collect their generous inheritance. Beautifully written and exploring the themes of loyalty, betrayal, grief and the importance of forgiveness.

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Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard
This thriller is a great holiday read; just don't take it on a cruise ship! A debut novel that channels 'Gone Girl' and 'Into the Water' from acclaimed UK writer Catherine Ryan Howard. The book asks, "Did she leave, or was she taken?" and is a compelling murder mystery wrapped up in the cruise industry. Howard's followup novel "The Liar's Girl" is due to be released in early 2018 and we cannot wait!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
A more challenging holiday read, 'The Goldfinch' tells the story of a young man who survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum – an attack that kills his mother. From there, he tumbles through a series of adventures that find him living in Las Vegas with his deadbeat father and later, involved in art forgeries. Soon to be a major motion picture with filming commencing in 2018!

The Scandal by Frederik Backman
Released in the US under the name 'Beartown' by best selling author of 'A Man Called Ove'. Midway through this book and totally hooked! 'The Scandal' is about a small town with a big dream and the price required to make it come true.

Are you on Goodreads? Have you set yourself a reading challenge and if so, how many books are you planning to read this year?

Looking for the best beach houses to relax with your beach reads? Check them out here. Also read our previous book recommendations here.

Image credit: Orogold
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21
Dec
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Top 10 for 2017

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Just us, or did 2017 whiz by in a flash?

This year, alluxia celebrated 5 fabulous years of delivering luxury holidays and inspiration to travellers. We celebrated our birthday by giving away a brilliant prize thanks to Breeze Mooloolaba, Love Noosa and Wanderers Travel Co.

This year we also travelled to dozens of destinations around Australia unearthing hidden gems for you to enjoy and discover. We've added over 100 new luxury holiday houses and boutique hotels for you to love and book, all independently verified or inspected to ensure quality for our discerning guests.

Thanks for following and engaging with us on social media – we love it! We'd love to see how you're spending the summer break, share your travel adventures and inspiration by using the hashtag #luxuryfound so our community can follow along!

To wrap up 2017, here are the Top 10 most popular stories on alluxia:

#10 Aria Southbank Review
We discovered affordable luxury in Melbourne's Southbank.

#9 Hottest New Hotel Openings 2017
You heard it here first, all the hottest hotels opening in 2017!

#8 Alluxia Awards 2017
We reveal all the winners of the annual alluxia awards for excellence.

#7 Qantas Business Travel Awards
Our wrap up from the inaugural Qantas Business Travel Awards, including some alluxia favourites.

#6 A Weekend in Toowoomba
Toowoomba proved a popular choice for readers in 2017.

#5 Starhaven Retreat Review
Our little review of this hidden gem on the Bellarine Peninsula.

#4 Discover Brisbane with The Urban List Founder
We interviewed The Urban List founder, Susannah George to reveal all her favourite Brisbane haunts.

#3 Book Barn Cottage Review
Inspired to take a country getaway? Read our review of the charming Book Barn Cottage.

#2 Rhapsody Resort Surfers Paradise Review
Always on the lookout for something new on the Gold Coast, you devoured our review of Rhapsody Resort.

#1 Do Not Disturb – One Mamas Rock Star Weekend
You loved our guest post by alluxia's Saskia Moon, who spent the weekend at Ovolo Woolloomooloo's famous AC/DC Suite.

What would you like us to write and review for you in 2018? We'd love to hear your thoughts, whether it be a destination, roundup or review you'd like us to tackle, we're all ears.

We would like to wish you all a very happy and safe festive season and hope you continue to enjoy the summer holidays in style!

Sally & the alluxia team x

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Dec
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Alluxia Awards 2017

Posted on in Travel Tips

As 2017 draws to a close, it's the perfect time to reflect on the incredible boutique hotels, holiday houses and unique escapes that have wowed us this year!

The annual alluxia awards celebrate the best of the best in each of our getaway inspiration collections. We hope you'll discover something new, or rediscover an old favourite and above all be inspired to travel in 2018.

Congratulations to the alluxia award winners:

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Best Regional Getaway:
Winner: Terragong 1858, South Coast
Kiama is one of Australia's most picturesque coastal towns and the most luxurious accommodation to be found in these parts is the hidden gem Terragong 1858. The NSW South Coast's premier bed & breakfast features just three guest rooms with impeccable styling and a host of indulgent inclusions. Guests are treated to evening drinks and canapés in the grand library lounge and decadent daily breakfast in the farmhouse kitchen.
Runner Up: Foy's Folly, Blue Mountains
Browse our handpicked collection of rural retreats and plan your regional getaway.

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Best City Break:
Winner: Magnolia on Kent, Brisbane
Live like a local in this newly renovated three-bedroom holiday house in inner city New Farm. Magnolia on Kent is breathtakingly beautiful, the owners have thought of every conceivable inclusion to make you feel at home; you won't want to leave.
Runner Up: Alex Hotel, Perth
Browse our handpicked collection of city breaks.

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Best Coastal Cool Getaway:
Winner: Ayindi, Byron Bay
Coastal cool beach getaways are our most hotly contested collection, but when we saw the renovation at Ayindi Byron Bay earlier this year, we knew we had our winner. This magnificent holiday house has been architecturally designed to take full advantage of the beach views and modern sophisticated interior styling seals the deal for the ultimate beach holiday.
Runner Up: 140 Mitchell at Mollymook, South Coast
Browse our collection of coastal getaways and make your escape to luxury.

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Best Winter Getaway:
Winner: The Blackwood Sassafras, Dandenong Ranges
Dandenong Ranges ticks all the boxes for a cosy winter getaway with charming villages, beautiful boutiques and romantic accommodation. The Blackwood at Sassafras raises the bar with superior interior design, open plan living, fireplace and indulgent deep soaking bath.
Runner Up: Rocky Hills Retreat, East Coast TAS
Browse our collection of winter getaways

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Best Romantic Getaway:
Winner: Hart's Farm, Mornington Peninsula
This unique getaway is the perfect couples retreat. Hart's Farm is a simple yet sophisticated hideaway overlooking an olive grove and a great base to explore the wineries of the Mornington Peninsula.
Runner Up: The Studio, Yarra Valley
Browse our full collection of romantic getaways and escape to luxury.

 

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Best Girls' Getaway:
Winner: The Island, Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is famous for fun and the newly renovated The Island Boutique Hotel offers plenty of fun with a wide range of food and entertainment options onsite including an epic rooftop bar, it's the coolest new venue on the coast!
Runner Up: Ovolo Laneways, Melbourne
Browse our full collection of girls' getaways and gather your friends!

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Best Gourmet Getaway:
Winner: Royal Mail Hotel, Grampians
This year, the iconic Royal Mail Hotel added new fine dining restaurant Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel putting it firmly on the map as one of Australia's top dining destinations. Chef Robin Wickens presents five and eight course menus that reflect locality and available produce growing in the hotel's kitchen garden.
Runner Up: Spicers Clovelly Estate, Sunshine Coast
Browse our collection of gourmet getaways and start salivating.

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Best Wine Weekend
Winner: Ridgemill Escape, Granite Belt
The Granite Belt is an under-rated wine region and well worth a visit for a laid-back weekend getaway. Stay on the vineyard at Ridgemill Estate in brand new cabins overlooking the vines and sip to your good fortune at having discovered this hidden gem.
Runner Up: Polperro Villas, Mornington Peninsula
Browse our collection of holiday houses and hotels that are perfect for a wine weekend.

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Best Luxe for Less Escape:
Winner: Brunswick Heads Motel
Don't be fooled by the "motel" name, this boutique escape is full of surprises with quality breakfast inclusions, free wifi and Netflix and use of Bondi Cruiser bikes to roam around Bruns.
Runners Up: Little National, Canberra
Browse our luxe for less collection and save.

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Best Pet Friendly Accommodation:
Winner: Alure Stanthorpe, Granite Belt
Alure Stanthorpe retains the position of top dog and best pet-friendly accommodation in Australia. The recent refurbishments are spectacular and your pampered pooch will also receive their own bathrobe, plush cocoon bed, food and water bowls, gift bag of toiletries and gourmet treats and a list of pet-friendly attractions and activities for an additional $50 per pet.
Runner Up: Larmont Sydney
View our handpicked collection of Pet Friendly Accommodation.

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Best Family Fun:
Winner: East Hotel, Canberra
With a dedicated Kids Studio, this kids cubby is kitted out with bunk beds, kids' play table, play rug, bean bags, loads of fun and games and the ultimate Xbox 360. East Hotel is also a great base to explore Canberra's plethora of museums and attractions.
Runner Up: O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat, Gold Coast
Browse our family friendly accommodation and book well in advance to secure school holiday accommodation.

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Best Spa Getaway:
Winner: Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park
Just 30 minutes from Melbourne, relax and rejuvenate at Mansion Hotel & Spa. Surrounded by 10 acres of formal gardens this boutique hotel's day spa boasts eight treatment rooms, Guinot Skincare and Waterlily products and a beautifully tiled, traditional Hammam chamber. You won't want to leave.
Runner Up: Hotel Realm and Hale Spa, Canberra
Browse our collection of spa getaways and be pampered.

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Best Newcomer:
Winner: Jackalope Hotel, Mornington Penninsula
Jackalope Hotel burst onto the scene this year setting a new standard of luxury in Australia. With vineyard views, onsite cellar door, destination restaurant and rooms carefully curated with bespoke designer furnishings, art commissions and installations it has to be seen to be believed.
Runner Up: Spicers Potts Point, Sydney
Read about all the Hot new Hotel Openings for 2017 here.

Check out our list of award winners for 2016 here.

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Nov
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Tasmania's most exclusive luxury retreat

Posted on in Travel Tips

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One of our favourite Australian boutique hotels has just announced the opening of exclusive new addition next month. Here's your first look at Pumphouse Point's new luxurious haven – The Retreat.

Pumphouse Point, Tasmania's most spectacular boutique hotel is famous for its luxury over water rooms at the pristine Lake St Clair in Tassies Western Wilderness.

Redefining relaxed luxury with 18 exquisite rooms split between the Pumphouse building on the lake or the charming Shorehouse building on the water's edge, the decision on where to stay just got harder with the addition of the 'The Retreat'.

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The Retreat is a private oasis hidden on the edge of the lake, surrounded by native bush providing privacy, seclusion and a new level of luxury at Pumphouse Point.

Designed with elements showcasing the lake's natural beauty, The Retreat includes locally crafted furniture, ceramics, bath products and two deep soaking tubs (one decadently under the stars) all combining to create a romantic escape for two.

Due to open mid-December, The Retreat will come inclusive of all food including farmhouse fare dinners (served either privately in The Retreat, or at shared tables in the Shorehouse dining room), an expanded larder brimming with the best local produce, wines and Tasmanian craft beers, ciders and spirits.

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Choose to hibernate in your luxurious surrounds or explore all Pumphouse Point has to offer from rugged mountain bike and bush walking trails, drift sheltered waters by row boat or simply relax in the Pumphouse and Shorehouse lounges and watch the changing mood of the lake as the weather rolls in.

Prices start from $1,275 per night available from 15 December 2017. Book Pumphouse Point at alluxia.com or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more.

Images: supplied

You Might Also Like: Pumphouse Point Review

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06
Nov
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Hip Hood - James Street

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10

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It's no secret we're big fans of New Farm's leafy James Street, it's our local 'hood after all. So we thought it was about time we shared our local knowledge with you. The sunny, tree-lined street is loaded with boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants creating Brisbane's premier lifestyle precinct.

So, take note friends, here is our guide to the best of James Street.

King Arthur
With a focus on sustainable fresh produce and paddock-to-plate philosophy, you'll find quality fare at this neighbourhood brunch spot. Now serving Friday Night Dinners, read our review of these delectable dinners here.

Harveys
Harveys is an institution in James St. Recently renovated to provide shadier alfresco dining; it's the perfect spot to meet friends or clients in a sophisticated setting. We can't go past the Asian chicken salad with coriander, mint, peanuts, coconut and tamarind dressing.

Tinderbox Kitchen 
Tucked behind Harveys next to the Palace Cinema, Tinderbox Kitchen serves up wood-fired pizza and modern Italian cuisine in a casual atmosphere, ideal for pre-post theatre dining.

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Sixes & Sevens
One of our favourite watering holes for a Friday afternoon beverage, Sixes & Sevens is set in a beautifully restored Queensland cottage and spills out to the great outdoors taking advantage of Brisbane's balmy nights. The perfect spot to enjoy an Aperol Spritz or two!

Bucci 
Featuring a seasonally driven modern Italian menu by co-owner and executive chef Shaun Malone, the delicious menu is perfect for sharing. The adjoining bar also has an impressive wine list including a great selection of Australian and Italian wines.

Gerard's Bistro
Brisbane's highly awarded restaurant serves inventive Modern Australian cuisine with a Middle Eastern twist. Slip out the back and enjoy a nightcap at Gerard's Bar serving tapas, charcuterie and beverages in a cool industrial space.

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Cru Bar
Lounge around at Cru Bar and enjoy the cool breeze while sipping Champagne. The bar has an exceptional cellar tucked behind the restaurant where helpful staff can help you select the perfect wine to take home.

Farrier Bar
Farrier Bar & Supperclub caters to Brisbane's night owls and discerning drinkers and is open to 2am Thursday to Saturday. With a discreet entrance, this basement level bar is dark and mysterious and perfect for late night hangs.

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Where to Stay
Sage Hotel Brisbane is located smack bang on James Street adjacent to Farrier Bar, how convenient is that? Rooms are super stylish with loads of extra inclusions and the perfect spot to lay your weary head after a weekend of James Street grazing.

Browse our full range of Brisbane accommodation here. Book online for a Brisbane city break with no fees and best rate guarantee.

Which is your favourite eatery or bar in James Street?

Image credit: James St, Sixes & Sevens, Cru Bar

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Friday Nights at King Arthur

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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King Arthur Café has quickly become a favourite brunch spot for Brisbane diners and now our favourite neighbourhood café is open for Friday night dinners!

The popular New Farm café is hosting weekly Friday dinners, featuring an inventive menu of small plates ideal for sharing and an all-Australian line-up of wine and beer.

King Arthur has maintained a farm-to-table ethos since opening in 2015 and has lead the charge among this conscious food movement in Brisbane.

"The idea of sourcing directly from farmers that we know has been engrained in our business model since the start," says King Arthur owner Mairi MacKinnon.

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King Arthur is MacKinnon's second café after opening the highly successful Merriweather with her business partner Josh Russell. She sold the South Brisbane café earlier this year, allowing more time to grow King Arthur and focus on its ideals and direction.

MacKinnon has spent the better part of this year planning, researching and fine-tuning what the dinner offering at King Arthur would look like and it shows. The menu is restrained; featuring a selection of share plates grouped as 'Meats', 'Veggies' and a couple of larger options.

We adventurously opted for the kangaroo tartare, cured egg with house brik pastry (see above) and we weren't disappointed, a beautifully balanced small plate to start our dining journey.

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The charcuterie featuring serrano, coppa, lardo, corned beef, duck pate, pickles and brik pastry was generously proportioned and ideal for sharing. The flaky brik pastry though was delightfully light but also impossible to spread the pate on and we requested a side of bread so we could tuck in with gusto.

The surprise of the night was the grilled broccoli with miso custard and enoki mushrooms, which was incredibly delicious. The miso custard was a granula type accompaniment paired beautifully with the broccoli and crispy mushrooms.

Once you start ordering a few shared plates, the upstairs romantic tables for two become impossible to hold your bounty and so we shifted to the larger communal table to spread out our feast.

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The petite wine list omits the regions so you'll need a little wine knowledge or ask for assistance, but I spotted a Mac Forbes Spring Riesling from Healesville that I've sampled on a previous trip to the Yarra Valley and it proved to be a delicious drop. The thoughtful beer and wine list takes a natural-leaning focus, meaning organic or biodynamic fruit, minimal intervention in the making process, and low-to-no sulphite additions.

The dessert menu has just one item, which should have indicated that it was not to be missed! But miss it we did. It just provides a reason to return to King Arthur Friday Nights for the strawberry cheesecake!

Come Fridays, the cafe's doors will stay open all day, transitioning into bar mode after the usual breakfast and lunch agenda wraps up 2:30pm. Drinks and snacks will run from 2:30pm, with dinner from 5pm.

King Arthur Café – 164c Arthur St, Fortitude Valley
Opening Hours:
Tues-Thurs 7am-3pm,
Friday 7am-late,
Sat-Mon 7am-2pm

The writer was a guest of King Arthur Cafe
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2017 People’s Choice Awards Event Wrap Up

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10

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Above: Alluxia Founder Sally Scott and Australian Travellers Marcus Hurley

We recently attended the Australian Traveller Magazine 2017 People's Choice Awards, cheering on some of our favourite destinations and mixing with industry colleagues!

The event was held at the all-new Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour with awards presented over a decadent long lunch with matched wines by Tyrrell's.

Uluru and the Northern Territory really scooped the pool with 5 wins including 'Ultimate Dream Experience' showing Australia's love of this iconic natural wonder hasn't waned.

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Above: Australian Traveller Founder Quentin Long introduces the awards

The Hunter Valley was a popular choice winning 'Favourite Regional Escape' and 'Best Food & Wine Region'. It's hard to argue with readers, we've visited regularly this year and still discovering plenty hidden gems in The Hunter!

It's no surprise, Great Ocean Road won "Ultimate Road Trip" with stunning coastal scenery, winding roads and delightful villages to stop at along the way, it's definitely a "must do" in Australia.

Sydneysiders can sometimes be guilty for taking the beauty of the Blue Mountains for granted, but AT readers voted it the "Cosiest Winter Destination" and "Most Romantic Escape".

Finally, which city would take out the coveted "Best City to Take a Break In"? Well, Melbourne of course! Victoria's capital has held the mantle for many years with its culture, shopping and laneway cafes high on the list of reasons to visit.

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A complete list of the winners can be found here and in the current edition of Australian Traveller Magazine.

Everyone was a winner on the day, as we all took home a rather epic goodie bag including gorgeous products from Appelles, Byron Bay Cookie Company, Corban & Blair, Tyrrell's Wine and more!

Thank you sponsors and thank you Australian Traveller Magazine xx

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Oct
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Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Approaching the awe-inspiring building of Mansion Hotel & Spa is like stepping back in time. The landmark hotel looms large in all its Italian stone glory, surrounded by manicured gardens and steeped in history. Mansion Hotel is just 30 minutes from Melbourne city, but feels a million miles away.

The light filled lobby is bursting with blooms and I'm offered a welcome drink on arrival. It's definitely the kind of lobby you can sit, sip, ponder and plan your weekend itinerary. The bar is also brimming with pink hydrangeas accompanied by bottles of Moet & Chandon Rosé, it's all rather tempting to indulge in some bubbles overlooking the manicured gardens.

My suite overlooking the grand entrance appears even more impressive as twilight strikes and the building positively glows at night, highlighting the impressive architecture. As I watch a couple cycle off, it feels like we've been transported to another era.

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Welcome bubbles from sister property Lindenderry and chocolate dipped strawberries are a nice touch and provide a sense of occasion. The room features an enormous king size bed, desk, lounge chair and ottoman. The overall ambiance is refined and appealing to the discerning traveller. The bathroom features a deep soaking spa bath and stainless steel vanity with plenty of indulgent Appelles amenities. The suites neutral tones of beige and dark wood complete the sophisticated look.

Take time to explore the 10 acres of formal gardens that are found on 135 hectares of Crown Land. The Werribee Park Precinct is also home to the largest rose garden in the Southern Hemisphere, so be sure you stop to smell the roses. You'll also find Victoria's largest picturesque Parterre Garden, a French style formal round symmetrical garden.

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A tour of the museum is a fascinating look at the past. The beautifully preserved house has an eerie feeling and I sneak in just before closing and have the house to myself. The grand staircase, the formal dining table set ready to entertain guests, it all feels rather ghost like and a magnificent restoration. Entry to the museum is free for guests of Mansion Hotel and Spa.

Unfortunately, a self-guided tour of the sculpture walk was a bit of a disappointment, with the sculpture park feeling a bit neglected and lonely. Perhaps I missed something, a printed guide or audio tour? It wasn't really explained on check-in in detail. I wandered around but struggled to be inspired by Karen Ward's 'Hut ' sculpture (pictured below) – art is subjective after all, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.

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Speaking of tea, high tea is more up my alley and Mansion Hotel & Spa host a sumptuous high tea every Sunday afternoon. T2 Tea and a lavish spread of sweet and savoury delicacies served fireside in the historic library in winter or on the Mansion's balcony during warmer months. Now you're talking!

Dining at Joseph's signature restaurant is an indulgent experience, located in what was once the Old Catholic Seminary overlooking the stunning formal gardens. The menu is comprised of tiny plates, small plates, large plates and sweet plates. I start with a small plate of Artichoke, cavolo nero chips, eggplant, pomegranate, nuts which is by no means petite. It's a perfectly balanced with the pomegranate providing a satisfying crunch.

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For main I choose the Risotto of grains, garden vegetables, zucchini flower and ricotta. The Homestead Community gardens were originally dormant until Parks Victoria saw potential for a refugee program. The Karen community has transformed the sleeping grassland into a kitchen garden full of colour, full of flavour and full of life. This association with the Karen refugees shows a great sense of community and environment, creating sustainable produce. The risotto dish is the perfect representation of this fresh, garden produce.

For dessert, it's hard to resist the Valrhona chocolate, sherry, coffee and flowers extravaganza (pictured above) – it's almost too pretty to eat! But I do, and the sorbet balances the rich chocolate for be a superb finish.

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Despite the divine dinner on offer, leave room for the morning's breakfast buffet, one of the most impressive hotel breakfasts we've seen for some time. There are trays and trays of salmon, cold meats and associated condiments, cheese plates, yoghurts and smoothies, cereal and fruit plus hot items all perfectly presented in small portions and replenished efficiently befitting the boutique hotel experience.

After all the grazing, you may choose to laze by the indoor pool or book in for a spa treatment. While the site was once host to St Joseph's Seminary, a spiritual retreat and college for the Catholic Church in Australia, it's a very different retreat and spiritual journey today. Relax in the luxe surrounds and be pampered rejuvenating mind, body and soul in the exclusive Day Spa.

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Mansion Hotel & Spa combines the heritage charm of a bygone era with the contemporary style and facilities you come to expect of a 5 star boutique hotel. Just 30 minutes from Melbourne, it's luxury within reach for romantic getaways and corporate retreats.

Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park
320 K Road, Werribee VIC 3030
Book Mansion Hotel here.

The writer was a guest of Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park
 
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Reducing Travel Stress for a “No Worries” Holiday

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Anyone who loves to travel will tell you (with much enthusiasm) that seeing the world is good for you. It's a great way to escape the doldrums of everyday life while also immersing yourself in a new landscape, new activities, and possibly even a new culture.

As it turns out, recent studies have shown there's scientific truth behind what we travellers have known all along: travel really is good for your body and mind. Travelling regularly reduces your risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, anxiety, and depression.

Best of all, the health benefits of travel are experienced from the time you start planning your trip and may last as long as weeks or months after you return. This is great news for anyone who loves to travel or is just in need of a getaway!

To fully enjoy all the mental benefits of taking some time off, you'll want to do your best to keep holiday stress at a minimum so you can have a worry-free mind. Here are some stress reduction steps to take while you're on holiday:

Protect your property

Before you leave, take some steps to protect your home while you're gone. Trust me, burglaries are the last thing you'll want to worry about while you're away.

Be sure all windows and doors are locked, alarms are set, smoke detectors are in working order, and appliances are unplugged. Ideally, you could also hide the fact that you are away by hiring a trusted pet sitter or house sitter. Knowing your home is properly cared for while you're away will allow you to relax into the holiday mind frame.

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Reconnect with nature

Unplug your laptop, turn off your mobile phone, and step outside. Notice the sounds of the birds in the trees. Kick off your shoes and feel the ground beneath your toes. Sometimes, it really is that simple!

If you're travelling in Australia, you'll experience breathtaking natural beauty. The geographic diversity offers something for everyone, whether you prefer to bushwalks in the Blue Mountains, view gorgeous waterfalls, relax by the ocean, or explore a Jurassic rainforest.

Prefer a hands-on experience? Try any of the following:

● Get up close and personal with koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and other native species at many of the nation's petting zoos and wildlife refuges.
● Thrill seekers on both coasts have the chance to seasonally swim with sharks or whales.
● Snorkel or scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living organism on Earth, which is so big it can be viewed from outer space!

These are just a few of the countless ways to experience nature in Australia.

Find stillness.

We each have different methods for soothing our worries and calming our minds. For some, this could be a mean a cruise through Sydney Harbour or watching the sunset over the Twelve Apostles. For others, it might involve a meditation retreat or beachside yoga along the Gold Coast.

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Pamper yourself.

Studies have shown that acts of self compassion actually boost your confidence and mood. To reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, take some time to treat yourself (or a loved one) while you're away.
Plan a romantic weekend getaway at a chic boutique hotel, or book a solo stay at a bed and breakfast just steps from the beach. While you're there, why not splurge on champagne and a massage? Taking time to pamper yourself helps ease your mind, relax your body, and improve your relationships.

Leave it to the professionals.

As rewarding as it can be to plan holiday travel, organizing everything can become overwhelming. You can always work with a professional travel agent, tour group, or cruise line instead. They'll handle the little details for you so you can free up your time (and your mind) and truly go with the flow during your travels.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to nurture yourself through travel. You deserve a stress-free holiday. So, go on. Use these ideas to plan a "no worries" trip that will leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and will boost your health long after you return.

Travel contribution by Henry Moore

Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favourite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. Henry enjoys travel, running, cooking, baking and reading. He believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.

Image credit: Gaia Retreat, Lady Enid, Bells at Killcare
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Sep
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Luxperience 2017

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Last week we attended Luxperience; an industry only event for bespoke luxury and high-end experiential travel. If you follow our Instagram feed, you'd think it was all Champagne, Canapés and fun in the harbour city and you'd be partly right, but there was a serious side to the event namely making meaningful connections.

We commenced with a Thought Leaders Forum and welcome function at Hilton Sydney. Tim "Rosso" Ross was back as MC, introducing the fabulous Lauren Bath, Australia's first professional instagramer and online tourism queen to share some important Insta tips.

The next 3 days were a blur of "speed dating" a series of 15 minute appointments with sellers from around the world. Here are our highlights, tips and news in luxury travel and what's hot in Australia right now!

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Mayfair Hotel
The stunning Mayfair Hotel Adelaide has revealed a brand new look for their Hennessy rooft-top bar. The popular Adelaide hot spot has opened a new glass-topped alfresco terrace complete with vertical garden and decadent underfloor heating. It's our pick for admiring the city skyline while sipping superior cocktails in style.
Book a stay at Mayfair Hotel here.

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The Anchorage
Our favourite Port Stephens retreat The Anchorage has undergone a $15m refurbishment including a major overhaul of their food & beverage offering. Check out the Hemingway's Bar with its sumptuous leather armchairs and elegant fireplace while you enjoy a premium whisky tasting. The Wild Herring Restaurant specialises in seafood and there are plenty of private dining options too. Accommodation rooms have been refreshed and there is an adults only pool coming soon...
Book a stay at The Anchorage here.

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Elements of Byron
Elements of Byron just keeps getting better and better with the resort about to double in size next month with the addition of 99 new villas! That's not all, the resort will feature revamped leisure areas including a new adults only 25 metre heated pool with swim-up bar – yes please! We can't wait to check it out! Learn more here.
Book a stay at Elements of Byron here.

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Penfolds
No trip to South Australia is complete without a trip to Penfolds cellar door in Adelaide or the Barossa to visit the home of Grange. At their Barossa Cellar Door you can 'Make Your Own Blend' and become a master winemaker for the day. Enter the winemakers' laboratory, don a white coat and get to work blending your own wine from Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro – just like Penfolds own Bin 138. The results are then bottled for you to enjoy! This brilliant Barossa experience is just $65.00 per person and we'll be including it in our upcoming Barossa Weekend Getaway! Register your interest at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

International

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Amatara Wellness Retreat
The jaw dropping Amatara Wellness Retreat is located just 45 minutes from Phuket International Airport in a quiet corner of an idyllic island. This flexible wellness retreat lets you choose what level of wellness or indulgence you choose and children are welcome at the retreat too.

Book any wellness package for a minimum 5 nights and your flight to Phuket from Australia is complimentary (conditions apply). Packages start from $3,700 pp twin share for stays between now and 25 December 2017. Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more.

Thanks to the Luxperience team for arranging a spectacular event for us as a hosted buyer. We'd also like to thank our accommodation hosts Swissôtel Sydney and flights by Virgin Australia.

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October Long Weekend 2017

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Labour Day is an annual public holiday that celebrates the eight-hour working day, so how should we celebrate this victory for workers...by not working!! Hoorah!! Labour Day is just around the corner for most states and here are our picks for the best way to reward your hard work with a long weekend in paradise:

City Breaks
Melbourne – The Blackman
Canberra – Hotel Realm
Sydney – Ovolo 1888
Perth – Alex Hotel
Brisbane – The New Inchcolm Hotel
Adelaide – Mayfair Hotel

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Romantic Getaways
Hunter Valley – H Boutique Hotel
Gold Coast – QT Gold Coast
Southern Queensland Country – Potters Boutique Hotel
Port Douglas – Thala Beach
Fleurieu Peninsula – Birks River Retreats
Launceston – Highfield House
Mornington Peninsula – Aquabelle Apartments
Melbourne & surrounds – Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park

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Family Fun
Margaret River – Smiths Beach Resort
Broome – Mangrove Hotel

Browse by destination or by getaway inspiration with alluxia and book online with no booking or credit card fees. The Labour Day Public Holiday is on Monday 2 October for NSW, ACT, SA and in QLD it's the Queen's Birthday Public Holiday.

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Sep
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Alluxia 5th Birthday Prize Winner

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Thanks to everyone who entered our Sunshine Coast Beach Escape, we were overwhelmed with the number of entries and we're pleased to reveal our lucky winner is...

Jan Aalto from New South Wales

Jan has won The Major Prize includes Two (2) nights' accommodation in a two-bedroom apartment at Breeze Mooloolaba, a Henschke Heaven welcome hamper from Love Noosa and a Wanderers' Travel Co Venetian Passport Travel Clutch. Voucher is not transferable or redeemable for cash. Booking subject to availability. Voucher must be presented on arrival.Valued at $1,199.

Congratulations to our winner and thank you for our generous partners Breeze Mooloolaba, Love Noosa and Wanderers Travel Co.

Missed out, but would love a relaxing break at Breeze Mooloolaba? Book Breeze Mooloolaba on alluxia.com 

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Sep
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5 Reasons to Visit Mooloolaba This Weekend

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Mooloolaba is often overlooked for it's glitzy cousin Noosa or earth mother Maleny, but this Sunshine Coast gem offers fun in the sun all year round! Here are 5 reasons to mooch around Mooloolaba this weekend.

1. The beach beckons
Top up on a dose of 'vitamin sea' and step out onto the pure white sand of Mooloolaba Beach! The sun and sea are wonderfully restorative, leave the city behind and breathe in the salty sea air, soak up the ocean views and warm weather and clear your mind. Mooloolaba Beach is considered the safest beach on the Sunshine Coast, patrolled daily and safe for swimming.

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2. Graze along Mooloolaba Esplanade
When it comes to eating out, you're spoilt for choice in Mooloolaba. Start your day with brunch at local favourite The Velo Project. With a focus on supporting local farmers and local suppliers you'll find simple fresh food and artisan espresso to keep you caffeinated for a day of adventure. Graze at Gainsbourg, open breakfast, lunch and dinner for casual seaside eats. Plus don't miss Spice Bar for spicy Asian share plates, cool cocktails and sea views.

3. Resort life
Organise a hamper and have indulgence delivered to your door by Love Noosa! Arrive in style with a chilled bottle of Champagne, gourmet platter or BBQ pack for your arrival so you can kick back, relax and enjoy the luxe life from your resort balcony. Bliss!

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4. Cruising the coast
Take a tour with Whale One, with spectacular whale watching cruises available during whale migration season. Half day tours available including door to door transfers. Otherwise, all year round enjoy a sunset cruise taking in the majestic Mooloolaba canals as the sun sets over the Glasshouse Mountains.

5. Be pampered
When you've had enough sand, sea and sunshine, head to the Salt Caves and experience a deeply relaxing massage using organic warm oil, combined with salt therapy, in a unique and tranquil setting. Himalayan salt has long been known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, so it's pampering with purpose!

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More information: Looking for where to stay in Mooloolaba? Check out Breeze Mooloolaba.

For your chance to win a two night escape at Breeze Mooloolaba, hamper from Love Noosa and leather goods from Wanderers Travel Co enter here.

Image credit: Breeze, Velo Project, Love Noosa
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Sep
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New Veriu Central Sydney opening in November

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Hot on the heels of the opening of Veriu Broadway, the Veriu crew announce a new 110-room hotel located at the gateway to Surry Hills, scheduled to open in November!

Veriu Central will be a $15 million conversion of the heritage listed 'Wentworth House' and will remain true to the character of the building combining old world elegance with contemporary style. Just as Veriu Broadway captured an industrial warehouse feel, Veriu Central will embrace characteristics of its turn of the century architecture.

"One of the foundations of the Veriu brand is to incorporate the unique elements of each building and provide guests with a different experience each time they stay in one of our hotels," said Rhys Williams, Director of Veriu Hotels & Suites.

The new hotel will add to the thriving inner city dining scene offering five quality restaurant and bar venues onsite. It's city chic location will also make it a popular choice with the Surry Hills fashionistas.

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Guests will be invited to check in at The Drawing Room, an eclectic and modern interpretation of a classic 1920s design, that combines the traditional hotel lobby space with a vibrant bar and eatery. The original heritage building boasted an opulent drawing room in the roaring 20's, created for entertaining guests with music, intellectual debate, drinking and laughter. Veriu's, The Drawing Room, is designed to evoke the same feeling of conversation, frivolity and recreation all with a generous dose of style and decadence. An all-day grazing menu will be available through to late night drinks at the art deco style bar.

Celebrated Sydney hospitality experts, Applejack Hospitality – famous for outlets such as The Butler Potts Point and Bondi Hardware – have provided the creative framework for The Drawing Room and two other venues: Harry's Dumpling House and Harry's Singapore Chilli Crab, which will offer Asian street hawker style food and craft beers, both accessible from the hotel lobby.

Established modern Australian restaurant, Nel, will also become part of the Veriu Central dining precinct. The unique bunker-esque style venue has become a popular favourite for locals since opening in 2015 and offers a degustation menu that changes every six weeks to enable Australia's best seasonal produce to be showcased.

Basket Brothers café will be your go-to breakfast, brunch or lunch venue for guests offering all the staples – great coffee, and a menu described as 'next level comfort food'. We can hardly wait!

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Veriu Central's 110 rooms and suites will all offer luxury bedding, LED TV's, minibar and in room safe. The spacious Wentworth Suites will boast kitchenette facilities including microwave and coffee pod machine.

The signature Veriu complimentary 'explorer bikes' will also be on offer, encouraging guests to discover the surrounding Sydney villages of Surry Hills and beyond. Other standard complimentary offerings common to all Veriu properties, include a welcome drink, WiFi and in-room tunes via Smart TV technology.

Veriu Central, 75 Wentworth Avenue, Surry Hills – due to open November 2017.
Veriu Broadway, 35 Mountain St, Ultimo – is open now and available to book on alluxia here.

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Ridgemill Estate Open Day

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Keen to explore the Granite Belt and learn more about Queensland wine? This weekend, Ridgemill Estate is opening the doors to the winery for their first ever open day! So grab your wine loving friends and head to the country!

We had a sneak peek earlier this week to see and experience all the exciting changes happening at the winery. Our hosts, Michelle and Martin took us on a tour of their winery estate including the vineyards, future conference centre and additional new luxe cabins.

I mean who doesn't want to escape to the country and wake up overlooking the vines? Ridgemill Estate have made it even easier to enjoy winery life by adding an additional four new cabins, bringing their stable of cute cabins to eight.

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Each self-contained cabin features a real wood burning fireplace and complimentary bottle of Ridgemill Estate wine to enjoy fireside. Plus, you'll receive continental breakfast provisions and coffee machine/pods to prepare breakfast in your sunny kitchenette to get you started for a day of wine tasting or exploring the great outdoors.

The open day on Sunday 10 September will allow visitors to enjoy good food, fine wine and live music on the cellar door deck or perhaps explore the winery estate.

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Meet Peter McGlashan, Ridgemill Estate's entertaining and talented winemaker and taste their extraordinary selection of wine. Our favourite from tasting was the "Joshua's Pup" Shiraz Grenache and the 2017 Rosé, both cellar door releases. Better still, with any purchase of a six bottle wine pack purchased on the day, receive a complimentary Ridgemill Estate wine decanter.

Also, for every bottle of wine purchased on the day, punters will receive an entry in an exclusive draw to win a two-night stay at Ridgemill Escape Luxury Cabins!

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So book your weekend getaway at Ridgemill Escape with alluxia, pack a picnic blanket and soak up the sunshine and cool country air in the gorgeous Granite Belt this weekend!

Ridgemill Estate Open Day – Sunday 10 September 10am-3pm
218 Donges Road, Severnlea QLD

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Sep
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Father's Day Gift Vouchers

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Looking for a great Father's Day gift? Celebrate Father's Day with a gift voucher from alluxia to allow your Dad to enjoy a midweek getaway in style or luxury weekend away at his leisure. Alluxia travel gift vouchers are the ideal gift for that special person in your life and a great way to show your appreciation. Let the recipient choose the getaway that suits them best from over 400 luxury accommodation providers in your favourite destinations.

Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. anytime up to and including Sunday 3 September 2017 and we'll process payment and issue an email voucher for you to send or print out. You simply nominate the value for the gift voucher and vouchers are valid for 12 months, subject to availability at time of booking. Perfect for last minute gift giving.

Give the gift of travel this Father's Day!

Image credit: Pinterest
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07
Aug
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Mantra Acquires Art Series Hotel Group

Posted on in Travel Tips

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In a move that has shocked the tourism industry, Mantra Hotel Group has announced their acquisition of the Australian-owned Art Series Hotel Group for approximately $52.5 million from current owners Deague Group.

The acquisition will see seven luxury hotels added to Mantra Group's portfolio. The seven hotels are:

· The Cullen, Prahran, Melbourne VIC
· The Larwill Studio, North Melbourne VIC
· The Olsen, South Yarra, Melbourne VIC
· The Blackman, St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC
· The Johnson, Spring Hill, Brisbane QLD
· The Watson, Walkerville, Adelaide SA
· The Chen, Box Hill, Melbourne VIC (which is currently in the final stages of construction and is set to open in November 2017)

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Arts Series Hotel Group transformed the Australian hotel market when it launched in 2009. Each hotel is inspired and dedicated to Australian contemporary artists, infusing the namesake artist's works and personality throughout the hotel to create unique art-inspired experiences.

With original artworks and prints adorning the walls and halls, the multifaceted art inspired experience is complete with dedicated art channels, art libraries, art tours and art utensils on supply. Glass bottomed pools, private outdoor decking areas, state of the art gymnasiums, massive communal spaces and boutique conference and events spaces complete the picture.

Will Deague, CEO, Deague Group said;

"Over the past decade we have been deeply passionate about growing the Art Series Hotel Group around Australia and hosting millions of art inspired experiences for guests. We are very proud of what our team has achieved and are excited to hand over the brand to Mantra Group who will build the brand to future success."

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Mantra Group have confirmed it will be business as usual for Art Series Hotel Group. All agreements with namesake artists remain unchanged and the new owners will focus on fostering new relationships with artists for future hotel properties.

There are currently two new hotels in the pipeline, including The Chen in Box Hill which is in the final stages of construction (by Deague Group) and will be opened by Mantra Group in November 2017, and a luxury six-star property which is set to open at Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane in late 2018.

All Art Series properties, with the exception of The Schaller Studio Bendigo and Howard Smith Wharves will form part of the proposed transaction with Mantra Group.

Settlement of the 'Art Series Acquisition' is expected to be completed in late 2017, subject to closing conditions customary for an acquisition of this nature.

Do you love Art Series Hotels? What do you think about the news?

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01
Aug
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Gourmet Getaway News – Yamagen at QT Gold Coast

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Oh what a night! Last week we were treated to delicious morsels and free-flowing Champagne at the launch of Yamagen at one of alluxia's favourite hotels QT Gold Coast.

Yamagen; already a hero of the Gold Coast dining scene for over 30 years, has just re-opened its doors with a sleek new look.

Yamagen has been carefully designed to ensure the overall dining experience is more than just a culinary journey. Designer Nic Graham was tasked with reimagining a traditional Japanese izakaya – or casual eating house – with the added objective of 'upping the ante' on an expanded bar component in keeping with the hotel's upbeat holiday vibe.

Naturally, QT's design DNA of quirky contemporary fusion became the defining road map, and the result is an invigorating blend of "east meets west" urban street style, pop-culture kitsch, and Japanese fishing village charm.

"What is great about QT is that it allows us to play within the boundaries of what is a strong cultural eating style and aesthetic deeply rooted in tradition to a dramatic and somewhat irreverent effect while still honouring its history," said Graham.

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The new look was unveiled last week with more than 400 invited guests sampling the new menu. VIP guests included Amber Heard, Kris Smith and Tim Robards who were only too happy to snap a few selfies with guests. The fabulous event also featured Japanese dancers, musicians and drummers and the after party kicked on at the Stingray Lounge until the wee hours.

With an all-star culinary team at the helm including Executive Chef Adam Lane, Yamagen blends old school kitchen samurai skills with new school chef innovation. Yamagen reinvents a traditional Japanese izakaya with a stylish and innovative twist. Spanning three unique spaces Yamagen's culinary journey has been carefully crafted with some of the finest Japanese chefs.

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"I love the lightness and delicacy of Japanese cuisine, and I really enjoy the
challenge of mixing ingredients that you wouldn't usually think of putting together – finding the perfect balance of flavours is what keeps our work exciting," said Lane. "I am thrilled to be bringing this to Yamagen and we will constantly be innovating to bring new and exciting dishes to the menu – Yamagen will always excite and challenge the palate."

Seating up 76 guests, the innovative menu includes Sashimi Tacos and Ura Maki Rolls. Table-seki is the restaurant's main dining area and the best place to take advantage of the full Yamagen experience. With dishes such as Terryaki Chicken with crispy skin, local warrigal greens, charcoal roasted leeks in a house made teriyaki glaze to Crispy Pork Belly with nashi pear, wasabi, watermelon radish and smoked vinegar. Our favourite was the Sashimi Tacos with salmon and spicy tuna, yuzu avocado, warm sushi rice, sesame, watermelon radish and house spicy mayo. Yum!!

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Adding to the experience is Yamagen's exclusive sushi counter, led by Mitsuo Yoshino. Here, guests experience an authentic omakase – a stream of market fresh sashimi and sushi, as well as delicate share plates, like Yellowfin Tuna Tartare – expertly selected by the chef.

The dining experience also extends to the bar, where Yamagen melds classic cocktails with modern Japanese inspiration, using unique Japanese ingredients such as sudachi (Japanese citrus fruit), gyokuro (shaded green tea), yuzu bitters (citrus), shiso leaf (Japanese style mint), matcha (ground green tea) and Sake.

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Jordan Melling, QT Gold Coast's Bars Manager, has also curated one of the most extensive range of Japanese Whisky in Queensland (65 - including Yamazaki 25 Y.O., Hibiki 30 Y.O. and Hakushu 25 Y.O.) and adds to the whisky drinkers experience through hand-chiselling ice blocks ensuring premium purity and a slower melt time.

Yamagen is stylish and innovative Izakaya dining that will transport you to the vibrant back alleys of Tokyo, so get ready for the hustle and bustle!

Yamagen is open for dinner six nights a week from 5.00pm Tuesday – Sunday.
Book a stay at QT Gold Coast at alluxia here.

Images: Supplied
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Jul
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Gourmet Getaway News – Wickens at the Royal Mail

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                                                                                         Robin Wickens, The Royal Mail Hotel new restaurant site. 

Dining destination The Royal Mail Hotel is set to get a makeover this year, adding a new fine dining restaurant to the mix.

The Royal Mail Hotel currently offers guests luxury accommodation, a two-hatted restaurant, wine bar and casual bistro in the tiny town of Dunkeld, a scenic 3-hour drive from Melbourne.

The owners are set to create a bold, new restaurant on the site, opening in October 2017. Fully committed to Dunkeld and the project, Executive Chef Robin Wickens has put his name to the new fine diner – Wickens at the Royal Mail.

The new restaurant will take advantage of the natural surroundings and feature views of Mt Sturgeon. Lead by architect Nicoholas Byrne of Byrne Architects, the Melbourne based design studio has promised to "capture the essence of Dunkeld, the Grampians and the rich history of the Royal Mail Hotel while ensuring the restaurant blends into the property's grounds and the broader Victorian landscape," Byrne said.

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The floor to ceiling windows and views to Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt have shaped the overall design concept and create a feeling of dining in nature. By working closely with the restaurant team, Byrne Architects have created a structure that clearly conveys the connection between the restaurant, the natural environment and its local bounty that is featured in Wickens' dishes.

"The garden and the seasons are key elements in determining the dishes we create, and from October the new dining space will add to the overall experience; making an even stronger connection between the land and the dining table." said Wickens.

By incorporating a range of beautiful and locally-sourced materials that speak to the heritage and landscape of the Royal Mail Hotel, the space will deliver a sense of unadorned, simple elegance, letting the awe-inspiring setting of Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt demand attention whilst highlighting the important work of Robin and his team in the kitchen.

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Key design elements of Wickens at the Royal Mail include:

• A winding bush trail through the native gardens that connect the hotel and the new restaurant
• A vertical garden lit from behind to create a mysterious and inviting entrance to the arrival lounge, from which the silhouette of the dining room can be seen through a fine, timber screen
• Australian hardwoods, sheepskins and sandstone sourced from Dunkeld's local quarry to create a raw and pared-back sense of luxury that highlight the Royal Mail Hotel's agricultural roots.
• A pre-dinner arrival lounge that is connected to the dining room by a wine corridor where approximately 400 local and international wines from the hotel's award-winning cellar will be on display.

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The restaurant will be open as usual in the meantime.

Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel will open in October 2017; 98 Parker Street, Dunkeld, VIC

Check availability and book Royal Mail Hotel here on alluxia.

Images: supplied
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21
Jul
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Best Lamingtons in Australia

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10

Celebrate National Lamington Day on 21 July and indulge in a little Aussie tradition.

Folklore has it that these delectable treats were originally created after the Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington's chef was called upon at short notice to feed unexpected guests. Using only the limited ingredients available, Lord Lamington's chef cut up some left-over French vanilla sponge cake, dipped the slices in chocolate, set them in coconut and the rest is history.

The question is where to find THE best Lamington in Australia and do you prefer retro desiccated coconut or hipster-shredded coconut? Lamingtons come in all shapes and sizes, cream filled, plain, the options seem endless.

Here's where you'll find some of Australia's best Lamingtons:

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Jocelyn's Provisions, Brisbane QLD
A Brisbane institution, Jocelyn's Provisions Lamington's are made with their famously moist butter cake with a hint of orange zest. These beauties are then dipped in chocolate and a smidge of raspberry and rolled in coconut! Yuuum
Jocelyn's Provisions – Shop 11, Centro on James, 46 James St, Fortitude Valley QLD

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Bourke St Bakery, Sydney NSW
This neighbourhood bakery has grown from humble beginnings in Surry Hills to become a much-loved Sydney staple. Their Big Big Lamingtons are something to behold, four layers of génoise sponge, homemade raspberry jam, Callebaut dark chocolate and coconut. These are in high demand on Australia Day!
Bourke St Bakery – various locations including 633 Bourke St, Surry Hills NSW

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Candied Bakery, Melbourne VIC
In Victoria, you'll find Candied Bakery an Aussie bakery with an American twist and a dash of European influence. Their lamingtons have a modern twist with oozy jam centre and a dusting of toasted coconut.
Candied Bakery – 81a Hudsons Rd, Spotswood VIC

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LusciousKiki Cakes, Sydney NSW
Famous for Lamingtons, their lamington menu changes with the season and uses fresh, real flavours. Owner Kirin Tipping creates lamingtons in creative variations such as Strawberry Shortcake, Choc-Hazelnut Bliss and Ruby Red Velvet Lamingtons!
LusciousKiki – 16 Sydneyham Rd, Brookvale NSW

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Wild Baker, Perth WA
Located in South Fremantle, visit this bakery and experience something a little bit wild, like their pimped up Lamingtons with Armagnac poached cherries and mascarpone cream.
2/390 South Terrace, South Fremantle WA

If you're inspired to try your hand at making Lamingtons, here's Donna Hay's recipe for simple, delicious Lamingtons.

These treats are brilliant for Australia Day too. Did your favourite Lamington bakery make the list? Share your favourite bakery, we'd love visit them all!

Book your foodie city escape with alluxia by browsing our handpicked collection of city breaks

Images: Bakeries own.

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