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Locals guide to Port Stephens

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10


Port Stephens on the New South Wales North Coast is a blue water paradise boasting over 26 beautiful beaches, making it the ideal beach holiday destination. With the recent high profile opening of Rick Stein at Bannisters, it's shone a light on the emerging foodie scene in 'the bay'.

We've had the luxury of spending the summer in Port Stephens, checking out what's new so you can enjoy our locals guide for the best places to eat, drink and experience in Port Stephens!

Eat & Drink
Rick Stein at Bannisters
The sleepy village of Soldiers Point has welcomed the much-hyped opening of Rick Stein's North Coast outpost, expanding from the picturesque South Coast town of Mollymook. Expect the finest locally sourced ingredients from ocean to plate in signature Rick Stein style. Locals tip, head upstairs to the Terrace Bar, with panoramic ocean views and casual dining by the pool for a glass of wine and the most perfect calamari or cocktails and bar snacks.


Hemingway's Bar
One of the most inviting bars at the Bay is Hemingway's Bar at The Anchorage. Sink into the leather lounges, relaxing fireside in winter or admiring the Marina views from your upper level window seat vantage point. The adjoining Captain's Tasting Room holds daily whiskey tastings on the handsome central dining table.

The Wild Herring
For fine dining or a special occasion, head to The Wild Herring at The Anchorage boasting magical views of the marina and bay. The modern Australian menu features fresh, local and regional seafood with either 2 or 3 course options or a Chef's Tasting Menu with matched wines. Head Chef Michael Jenkins' creative menu is one to savour with highlights such as Blue Swimmer Crab, chilli, peppery leaves on angel hair pasta – divine!


Shoal Bay Country Club
The iconic Country Club has had a dazzling makeover with sunny white washed walls, striped umbrellas and pastel interiors. The venue takes you effortlessly from morning coffee, breakfast in Mermaids, lunch + dinner upstairs at The Kitchen and Patio or cocktails overlooking the Shoal Bay Beach. If you're after a relaxed, sun-soaked meal and drinks then this is the place for you.

Kelp Shoal Bay
Newly opened, Kelp Shoal Bay shows loads of potential with light, bright décor and a great brunch menu. It's too early to review, however the team serve up Campos coffee with a smile so they're off to a great start. The venue is also dishing up pizza from the neighbouring pizzeria, Pizza Buoy.


Little Beach Boathouse
This is the Bay's best-kept secret, hidden amongst the trees on the shores of Little Beach in one of the most picturesque spots in Port Stephens. Little Beach Boathouse boasts a top-notch restaurant on the upper level and casual eats and overwater bar below. No matter the occasion, make a detour to Little Beach Boathouse on your Port Stephens vacay.

Inhouse Kitchen
One of our favourite brunch spot, this buzzy corner café has inviting coastal cool interiors and a delicious breakfast menu including Wild Mushroom Bruschetta with onion jam, Persian feta, sage and hazelnuts which is a thing of beauty. Don't miss browsing upstairs at their stunning homewares store The Home Interior.


Naked Alley
This café in Magnus Street is serving up some good brew from local Central Coast roasters Glee Coffee. They're also doing their bit for the planet, stocking a great range of Pottery for the Planet ceramic keep cups.

The Little Nel
Another contender for best coffee in Nelson Bay is The Little Nel at the Nelson Resort. This friendly café also has a tempting array of sweet treats and raw desserts, that's health food right?


Two Bob's Bakery
Blink and you'll miss it at Nelson Bay's newest bakery; a hole in the wall store in Yacaaba St (near Home Interior). Two Bob's Bakery has your essentials – superior sourdough and espresso coffee to go! You're welcome.

Browse Boutiques
Nelson Bay has a growing number of boutiques to browse, where you can hunt for homewares at Home Interior or Bay Living & Garden, buy local art at Earthquirks or Artisan Collective or pick up some resort wear at Corner Secrets, Covet Couture or Else & Me.


Festival Feasts
Plan your holiday to Port Stephens around one of the Bay's foodie events such as Tastes at the Bay featuring the best local food, wine and music in November. Port Stephens is renowned for sensational seafood all year round, but visit in August for the Love Sea Food Festival  and dine like kings on sweet prawns, plump oysters, lobsters, blue swimmer and mud crabs - from the trawler to the table, your catch of the day is as fresh as it gets.

Laze at the Beach
There are so many beaches to choose from around Port Stephens. The calming waters of Shoal Bay are great for families and are perfect for swimming or paddle boarding. Nearby Fingal Bay Beach is a patrolled, protected beach with a surf club, café and restaurant. The best surfing beaches in Port Stephens include Zenith and Box Beaches near Tomaree Head, Samurai Beach, One Mile Beach and Birubi Beach.

The Anchorage
The Anchorage is an idyllic, Hamptons-style waterfront resort with dazzling marina views, ideal for a mini-break or weekend getaway. The luxurious resort has a heavenly onsite day spa, Spa Luca offering a range of treatments and packages as well as a wellness menu with a choice of nourishing food. Surrender to the calmness of the sea and relax in one of the Anchorage rooms or suites, the perfect base to explore all Port Stephens has to offer.

Book The Anchorage or browse our handpicked collection of Port Stephens accommodation.

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Introducing SOUL Cottage

Posted on in Travel Tips


SOUL of Gerringong has introduced its savvy sister – The SOUL Cottage, a new holiday house right next door, welcoming guests with its trademark coastal-luxe style.

The SOUL Cottage is the place for couples' getaways or family holidays. With three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an outdoor shower, the property has been designed to embrace both dual indoor and outdoor living, reflective of the relaxed south coast lifestyle.


It's an organic, light-filled space with pitched ceilings and polished concrete floors. The French doors open from the living to the undercover deck for outdoor entertaining, or just relaxing on the hanging chairs. The tropical gardens and yard provide a private oasis, and in the cooler weather is the perfect spot to sit around the outdoor fire pit.

The SOUL Cottage style has been carefully curated by owner and interior designer, Simone Mathews. Open to guests for a limited time from January to mid-May 2019, it's a pop-up holiday house experience that doubles as a virtual retail space for guests. 'Shop the look' from brands including The Beach People, HK Living, T&C Furniture, Cultiver, Blacklist Store, SONOS and more, to re-create the style aesthetic for themselves.


Simone is renowned for her relaxed, yet sophisticated coastal aesthetic, as is the signature look at SOUL of Gerringong, which opened in November 2017. A bespoke guesthouse, it was restored from one of the town's original coastal farmhouses dating back to the late 1800s.

The SOUL Cottage is located directly next door to SOUL of Gerringong and is walking distance to the heart of the village, obscured from the street by its double barn doors.


Beaches and cafés, award-winning restaurants, wineries and cooking schools are all nearby including the newly opened The Hill Bar & Kitchen with indoor & outdoor seating to take advantage of the panoramic views of the stunning coastline.

Book your escape to luxury at The SOUL Cottage or SOUL of Gerringong  here. Alluxia brings you a curated collection of the best luxury holiday houses and boutique hotels in Australia with no booking or credit card fees, so you can book with confidence.

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Top picks for the Sydney Festival 2019

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10


Every January, Sydney comes alive for a city-wide arts and entertainment extravaganza that's not to be missed. Sydney Festival returns 9-27 January 2019 with a broad range of free events and accessible pricing policies for ticketed events, making Sydney Festival welcoming to both locals and visitors alike.

Here's our Top Picks of the 2019 Sydney Festival program:

Orquesta Akokán | 15 & 16 January
Cuba's finest musicians bring their big band mambo sound to Sydney in an Australian exclusive. Celebrating the music and culture of Havana of the 1940's and 50's, get ready to shimmy through the night to Orquesta Akokán.

Dust | 9-13 January 
Dancenorth perform a stunning new contemporary dance piece which invites you to consider how we scrutinise the past in order to shape the future. Be mesmerised by Dust during their world premiere season.


Shànghai MiMi | 10-20 January 
Immerse yourself in the intoxicating world of Shànghai MiMi for an evening of sumptuous cabaret and burlesque. Inspired by 1930's Shanghai, a city famous for its flamboyant clubs and heady nights, Director and performer Moira Finucane is joined by Qinghai Acrobatic Troupe and a live band playing long-lost vintage Chinese jazz and blues.

Neneh Cherry | 15 & 16 January
Swedish icon Neneh Cherry is one of this year's musical highlights, returning with her anthems of trip hop, house, jazz and rap, featuring songs from her impressive career spanning 35 years in the music industry.


Home | 9-18 January 
On an empty stage, a house rises before your eyes. People move in, move out. Haunting one habitat, their domestic dance is an overlapping map of successive generations. Inspired by Creator Geoff Sobelle discovery of layer upon layer of kitchen floor, laid by former residents of his 100-year old Philadelphia house. What makes a house a home, he wondered?

Check out the full program and purchase tickets at Sydney Festival and plan your Sydney city mini-break by booking your Sydney accommodation here.

With thanks to Sydney Festival Major Partner China Southern Airlines.

Top Picks for Where to Stay in Sydney:


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Top 10 Travel Stories for 2018

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10


How is it 2019 already? As the summer holidays come to an end and most people return to work, we are reflecting on the most popular posts of 2018 to help plan our stories for 2019.

In 2018, we 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.

So, that's a wrap on 2018 and your favourite stories were...


#10 Bendooley Estate Review
Our review of this new Southern Highlands cosy cottage had you reading and adding to your must-do list for 2018.

#9 Canberra Truffle Festival 2018
Canberra Truffle Festival delivered another spectacular calendar of events and you devoured every delicious detail!

#8 Bundaberg Region Winterfeast
A highlight of 2018, we loved our experience in Bundaberg for their annual Winterfeast festival and it seems you were curious to hear more about this foodie event too.


#7 Brunswick Heads Motel Review
Our favourite little luxe for less boutique accommodation proved to be a favourite with readers too.

#6 2018 Hottest Travel Trends
We asked our favourite writers, bloggers and travel tastemakers for their 2018 tips. Pop back and see how their predictions materialised.

#5 Ovolo acquires Emporium Brisbane
There was widespread shock when Ovolo Hotels acquired Emporium Hotel in Brisbane and we were amongst the first to share the big news to our dedicated readers.


#4 Ovolo acquires Inchcolm Brisbane
Brisbane was a buzz with news boutique hotel group Ovolo purchased the iconic Inchcolm Hotel. We shared all the insider gossip on the new acquisition.

#3 Halcyon House Day Spa
We were on the hunt for news of the new developments at Halcyon House and had your first look of the Anna Spiro designed Day Spa.


#2 Bannisters Port Stephens opens
Your first look at Bannisters Port Stephens had everyone curious and the newly refurbished hotel sure impressed with sleek interiors, water views and Rick Stein's new restaurant opening.

#1 Hottest New Hotel Openings in 2018
By far, our most popular post of the year, showing curiosity runs deep into what hot and what's new in the travel industry. We vow to bring you all the hotel news and your first look of new hotels in 2019.

What would you like us to write and review for you in 2019? We'd love to hear your thoughts, whether it be more travel news, destinations, top 10 lists or reviews you'd like us to tackle, we're open to suggestions.

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

Wishing you an exciting year ahead filled with travel and adventure.

Sally & the alluxia team x

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Best Summer Holiday Reads

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10


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

Set a reading challenge in 2019? Here's some inspiration to kick-start your book reading these holidays:

The Lost Man by Jane Harper
We've previously devoured Jane Harper's previous books, especially her debut novel 'The Dry' so there was much anticipation about her third book. Also set in the Australian outback, Jane Harper brings the Australian landscape vividly to life as the backdrop to this unfolding mystery.

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
A runaway success in 2018 was the much talked about 'Boy Swallows Universe' by Trent Dalton. You'll be captivated by the clever writing and nostalgic 80's references of this coming of age story of love, crime and fate, set in the suburban fringes of Brisbane.


Scrublands by Chris Hammer
Reminiscent of 'The Dry', Scrublands is set in a fictional Riverina town in the height of a devastating drought. The powerful and compelling crime novel is a real page-turner and a sensational summer read.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Quirky name and equally quirky characters greet you in 'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine', a truly original story about the often unspoken feeling of loneliness. At times laugh-out-loud funny and others deeply moving, you'll remember Eleanor long after the last page.

Becoming by Michelle Obama
For some non-fiction, why not delve into the memoir of Michelle Obama, a powerful and inspiring read by the former First Lady of the United States. Emerging as one of the most iconic women of our times, 'Becoming' is a must-read in 2019.

Are you on Goodreads? Have you set yourself a reading challenge and if so, how many books are you planning to read this year? For more reading inspo, follow #alluxiareads on Instagram!

Looking for the best beach houses to relax poolside, check them out here.


Main image via SAP Concur
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Alluxia Awards 2018

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10

As 2018 draws to a close, it's the perfect time to reflect on all 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 2019.

Congratulations to the alluxia award winners:


Best Regional Getaway:
Winner: Jackalope Hotel, Mornington Peninsula
What could be finer that escaping to the Mornington Peninsula for a wine weekend at Victoria's most unique boutique hotel, Jackalope. More than just luxury accommodation, Jackalope is also a dining destination with hatted restaurant Doot Doot Doot, vineyard and more. Essentially, Jackalope is the whole package – your total weekend escape plan.
Runner Up: Heart Hotel & Gallery Whitsundays, Airlie Beach
Browse our handpicked collection of rural retreats and plan your regional getaway.


Best City Break:
Winner: Ovolo Inchcolm Brisbane
We've long been a lover of Inchcolm, but with the relaunch and rebrand earlier this year to Ovolo, there's even more reason to check out this boutique hotel for your next Brisbane city break. Read Saskia's staycation review here.
Runner Up: Ovolo Nishi, Canberra
Browse our handpicked collection of city breaks


Best Coastal Cool Getaway:
Winner: Elements of Byron, Byron Bay
The award winning Elements of Byron just keeps getting bigger and better with the opening of more luxurious villas and an adults only pool over the past 12 months. The new adults only pool is a playground for adults with swim up tequila bar and chilled vibes for a weekend of relaxation and indulgence. You won't want to leave.
Runner Up: The Anchorage Port Stephens
Browse our collection of coastal getaways and make your escape to luxury.


Best Winter Getaway:
Winner: Bendooley Estate, Southern Highlands
It's hard to go past the new Bendooley Estate villas for the ultimate in style and sophistication for your winter getaway. The estate includes onsite restaurant, famous Berkelouw Book Barn, plus winery and cellar door – it's heaven for book lovers!
Runner Up: Mt Hay Retreat, South Coast
Browse our collection of winter getaways


Best Romantic Getaway:
Winner: Pumphouse Point, Tasmania
Pumphouse Point is one of Australia's most unique getaways. Located on Lake St Clair choose from the overwater pumphouse or serene shorehouse for the ultimate wilderness retreat. Choose a romantic night in and graze from the extensive in-room larder packed with a tempting range of local cheeses, cured meats, wine and more.
Runner Up: Villa Toraja, Byron Bay
Browse our full collection of romantic getaways and escape to luxury


Best Group Getaway:
Winner: Soul of Gerringong, South Coast
Gather your tribe and head to Soul of Gerringong. Located in the idyllic South Coast coastal village of Gerringong, the laid-back but stylish digs will refresh and recharge the busiest of city slickers. Combining The Farm House, Barn and Cabana allows you to entertain a large group in style, whether for a girls' getaway or corporate retreat.
Runner Up: Ayindi, Byron Bay
Browse our full collection of girls' getaways and group getaways and gather your friends! 


Best Gourmet Getaway:
Winner: Spicers Tamarind, Sunshine Coast
The hatted Asian-influenced restaurant at Spicers Tamarind is central to the retreat, surrounded by natural beauty and tranquillity in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Relax in Spa Anise, learn new skills at the Tamarind Cooking School or explore charming nearby towns of Maleny and Montville. Alluxia found it the perfect location for our corporate retreat this year and we think you'll love it too.
Runner Up: Thorn Park by the Vines, Clare Valley
Browse our collection of gourmet getaways and salivate.


Best Wine Weekend
Winner: Abode Murrumbateman, Canberra region
The opening of Abode's new boutique hotel in Murrumbateman is a real game changer for the Canberra wine region. No longer just a day trip from Canberra city, you can now enjoy a wine weekend in modern surrounds amongst Canberra's finest cellar doors.
Runner Up: The Cellars at Heathcote II, Heathcote Wine Region
Browse our collection of holiday houses and hotels that are perfect for a wine weekend.


Best Pet-Friendly Accommodation
Winner: Hamptons Hinterland Retreat, Gold Coast Hinterland
If you're planning a family getaway you'll want to bring the four-legged member of the family too right? Enjoy a group getaway at this impressive 5-bedroom pet-friendly holiday house, complete with resort-style pool and large gourmet kitchen, perfect for entertaining.
Runner Up: Alure Stanthorpe, Granite Belt
View our handpicked collection of Pet Friendly Accommodation


Best Family Fun:
Winner: Ruby Collection, Gold Coast
The Gold Coast's newest resort has kids needs as the priority with kids club, kids waterpark, fun mascots and kids rooms in the three-bedroom sky suites even feature bunk beds and tee pees.
Runner Up: Rumba Resort, Sunshine Coast
Browse our family friendly accommodation and book well in advance to secure school holiday accommodation - 


Best Spa Getaway:
Winner: Alamanda Palm Cove
Boasting absolute beachfront location at Palm Cove, Alamanda is the ultimate spa getaway destination. Relax in the day spa with the sound of the lapping waves just metres away and then retreat to the private rooftop plunge pool for a totally blissful experience.
Runner Up: Saltus Luxury Accommodation, Daylesford
Browse our collection of spa getaways and be pampered.


Best Luxe for Less Escape:
Winner: The Island Gold Coast
Need a place to crash on the Gold Coast? The Island is super central in Surfers Paradise, has had an epic makeover and killer rooftop bar with plenty of dining hot spots onsite and nearby.
Runners Up: Felix Hotel, Sydney
Browse our luxe for less collection and save.


Best Newcomer:
Winner: Little Albion, Sydney
Fall in love with this boutique guesthouse that feels more like a European Pensione than hotel, tucked away in cosmopolitan Surry Hills. Rooms and suites are exquisite and individually designed with a mix of 20's and 70's style and includes lots of thoughtful extras.
Runner Up: The Calile Hotel, Brisbane

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Newcastle’s New 5 Star Hotel

Posted on in Travel News


It's confirmed, our favourite regional city Newcastle is set to get a new 5 star hotel!

Crystalbrook Collection Hotels & Resorts has won the tender to acquire Newcastle's iconic 'Roundhouse' Council Administrative Centre and intends to convert the building into a luxury five-star hotel, ready to open in late 2020.

The hotel is to be called Kingsley, a Crystalbrook Collection Hotel. The name follows a Crystalbrook Collection naming convention where each of their hotels is given a gender-neutral name and its own unique personality. Fun fact: The name Kingsley is a nod to Newcastle's heritage and the city's earlier name Kingstown dating back to 1804.

This will be the first five-star hotel for the city of Newcastle. Crystalbrook Collection CEO Mark Davie said he was thrilled with the result of the tender: "There's really nothing like this building, it has a strong identity and connection to the city of Newcastle. I see a lot of potential.


"We think the location, with the City Hall, the Civic Theatre, the Art Gallery and the War Memorial Cultural Centre right on the doorstep, makes it a perfect location for a five-star hotel."
Mr Davie said he had been watching Newcastle's growth in recent years and felt strongly that Crystalbrook Collection should become a contributor to the future growth of the city.

Initial studies indicated the 'Roundhouse' could accommodate at least 100 five-star hotel rooms. Initial plans developed by Newcastle's Barney Collins of EJE Architecture also show the introduction of a rooftop restaurant and recreational area complete with a swimming pool.


This news comes on the back of massive expansion plans by Crystalbrook Collection with over $800 million worth of developments including six luxury 5 star hotels currently operating or under development across Australia. Crystalbrook Collection has recently opened Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort in Cairns (coming to alluxia soon), and acquired Little Albion, a Crystalbrook Collection Boutique Hotel in Surry Hills, Sydney.

Have you been to Newcastle lately? Would this new development encourage you to book a weekend getaway to Newcastle? Check out our handpicked collection of Newcastle hotels and holiday houses here.

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New Wine Bar for Howard Smith Wharves

Posted on in Travel Tips


Howard Smith Wharves will be the place to be this summer, with the announcement of yet another fabulous bar opening at Brisbane's new favourite lifestyle and entertainment precinct.

ARC Wine Bar, a 140-seat wine bar, designed by Anna Spiro will open on 17 December, followed by the 100-seat ARC Dining in February 2019.

Alanna Sapwell has been announced as the Head Chef of ARC Dining and Wine Bar. Former Head Chef of the award winning and wholly fish-focused Saint Peter in Sydney, Alanna Sapwell (pictured below) has come home to Queensland to join the Howard Smith Wharves team, with a new restaurant and a broader culinary spectrum focused on making a difference.

ARC Wine Bar will also feature an extensive wine list of over 500 wines curated by our favourite Sommelier Ian Trinkle (formerly of ARIA).


Located at the New Farm end of the precinct and set on the edge of the Brisbane River with stunning views of Brisbane City, the soon-to-open ARC Wine Bar will feature a sophisticated, modern concept inspired by art and culture, courtesy of acclaimed interior designer Anna Spiro.

Sapwell's philosophy is centred around using local suppliers and farmers and respecting their products, making a conscious effort to use as much as possible and recycling through onsite composting.

"We'll be getting in whole carcases, selecting the cuts that I want to use in the restaurant and then utilising what's left to make small plates and charcuterie in-house for the wine bar," said Sapwell.

Howard Smith Wharves Director, Adam Flaskas, said of Alanna's appointment, "We're really excited to have Alanna on board as Head Chef of ARC. To have one of the hottest chefs in Australia as part of our amazing culinary team is fantastic, and I can't wait to see what Alanna achieves in this new role."


On Alanna's ARC Wine Bar menu, you will find selection of unusual yet approachable snacks. Think re-imagined charcuterie with, goose rillette sour cherry and rye/kangaroo and candied melon and of course seafood.

The wine offering at ARC Wine Bar is also sure to impress, featuring wines curated by Sommelier Ian Trinkle (pictured above), who has a formidable reputation in the wine arena – in a previous role as Head Sommelier at ARIA, Ian was awarded The Judy Hirst award for Australia's best Sommelier, as well as best wine list and Sommelier in Australia in Good Food Guide. ARC's wine list focuses heavily on natural, biodynamic wine with a spotlight on artisanal producers who embrace sustainable and organically driven practices with minimal intervention, letting each wine speak to its sense of place.

Alanna brings a broad repertoire of experience to ARC Dining and Wine Bar. After completing her apprenticeship at The River House, Alanna headed to Italy to take up a role as sous chef at La Decima Musa in Florence, before moving to Japan as head chef of Morino. Upon her return to Australia, Alanna worked as head chef at Maison De Provence and as head pastry chef at Urbane, Aquitine and Gerard's before moving to a sous chef role at Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.


ARC Dining and Wine Bar joins a formidable line up of bars and eateries at Howard Smith Wharves including Felons Brewing Co, Mr Percival's (pictured above), Greca Restaurant with Stanley Cantonese Restaurant, Toko Japanese Restaurant, and the new Art Series Hotel The Fantauzzo to open in the coming months.

ARC Wine Bar is sure to become a popular spot for locals and visitors to Brisbane this summer. Fancy a Brisbane vacay? Browse our Brisbane city breaks here for the best Brisbane accommodation.

Image credit: HSW and Weekend Edition
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5 Reasons to Stay at The Ruby Collection

Posted on in Travel Tips

We recently checked out new kid on the block The Ruby Collection on the Gold Coast and were wowed by the new boutique hotel. Not just another apartment complex, The Ruby Apartments has been thoughtfully and uniquely designed and is like no other Gold Coast accommodation.

Here are 5 reasons you'll love The Ruby Apartments:


1. Self-Checkin
We're all used to self-check in at the airport, so why not at our hotels? Say goodbye to long queues waiting to check-in and repetitive paperwork and say hello to speedy and paperless check-in. If you're not tech-savvy, don't worry the friendly Ruby Ambassador's are on hand to help.


2. Panoramic Views
Soaring 30 floors above the Gold Coast, the Ruby Apartments provide a different vantage point to admire the Gold Coast with panoramic views of the ocean and hinterland from the spacious one, two and three bedroom apartments and Sky Suites.


3. Kids Room
Families will love The Ruby Apartments; in each three-bedroom apartment you'll find bunk beds with gorgeous red star covers and a super cute teepee! The fun doesn't end there with William the Bear announced as the official mascot, kids club, waterpark and more.


4. Support Local
The Ruby Apartments team has sourced the best local produce and beverages to enjoy during your stay with coffee from local Southport coffee roaster Silipo served in the Terrace Cafe and Burleigh Beers on tap in the bar. The Ruby Collection has also commissioned local artist Tracie Eaton to create the original artwork on each floor of the hotel.


5. In-room technology
We love the in room tablet with personal digital concierge to help answer every conceivable question. It's definitely one of the most advanced and impressive we've seen. You can check the forecast, control the air-conditioning and order room service, all at the touch of a button. Of course, there's also free wifi, USB charging points (in the bedside lamps no less) and smart TV's.

Have you been to the Gold Coast lately? Ready to book a weekend getaway or family fun holiday? Book The Ruby Apartments on here or browse our handpicked collection of Gold Coast accommodation.

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Escher x Nendo at NGV

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The National Gallery of Victoria's latest summer blockbuster is an immersive wonderland dedicated to the late Dutch artist M.C. Escher, known for his optical illusion prints and illustrations.

In an inspired move, the gallery enlisted Japanese design house Nendo to install the exhibition - and the result is an artwork in itself!

Acknowledged as a master of optical illusion, Escher created some of the most iconic images of the twentieth century, intriguing viewers with their visual puzzles and challenge established notions around space, time and the everyday world. Escher's work depicts impossible architectural structures, endless staircases and seamless transformations of form and pattern. His fantastical constructions and repetitive infinity patterns reveal a technical and inventive genius that in recent years has become increasingly revered and celebrated.


Escher X nendo | Between Two Worlds explores Escher's unique artistic vision covering the full span of his career, from 1916 through to his final work produced in 1969. Highlights include some of Escher's best-known works including Day and night, 1938 (above), a woodcut representing light breaking over a Dutch landscape of exactly mirrored towns, fields and waterways, through to the masterpiece that was his final work, Snakes, 1969, created three years before his death in 1972 at age seventy-three.

NGV Friday Nights also returns for summer with a music line-up fusing classical and contemporary influences, exclusive late-night access to Escher X nendo / Between Two Worlds, plus bars and dining. This summer's headline electronic artists and DJs include songwriter and producer Andy Bull, Melbourne duo Confidence Man, Sydney's Nicole Millar, record producer Jonti and Australian/Filipino artist Chela. Check the NGV website for the full lineup and ticket details.


Immerse yourself in all things Escher with a Monocromatic High Tea at Sofi's The Lounge. Pastry Chef David Hann and his team have embraced the technical and inventive genius of 20th century artist Escher and drawn inspiration from one of the 21st century's most inventive design studio's, nendo, in their exquisite Monocromatic High Tea offering, which tastes as good as it looks. For further details and read the full review by our friends at High Tea Society.

Escher X Nendo: Between Two Worlds is at NGV International until 7 April 2018. Admission fees apply.

Plan your mini-break in Melbourne with our great selection of Melbourne accommodation.

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Date Night at Ovolo Inchcolm

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


When you've been married for double-digit years and have added a 4 year old to the mix just for laughs, it gets a little hard to make time for just the two of you. When our wedding anniversary came around and we realised we probably hadn't been out for an evening together since.....oh.....last year's anniversary it was time to take action.

We wouldn't be able to go away for more than one night and didn't want to spend most of our precious free time driving, so we decided on a staycation in our hometown of Brisbane.

Where to stay was an easy pick: I had been to the bar at Ovolo Inchcolm before and loved the vibe of this oh so pretty hotel. 


We arrived late in the afternoon to the heritage listed building on Wickham Terrace and when our eyes had adjusted a little (it's quite dark inside!) we noticed the reception was an extension of a very impressive looking bar. We were checked in by a friendly staff member who was quite surprised we had come from just two suburbs away – I guess the staycation trend hasn't really caught on yet?

Our room, The Thomson Suite was on the top floor and we went up in the beautiful old-fashioned elevator (fitted with modern technology, thankfully). I just love that feeling of excitement when you open your hotel room for the first time, and the Thomson Suite did not disappoint!


The room is huge, and features a four-poster bed on one side; swish designer bathroom and lounge room on the other.

The room is fitted out with lots of modern tech – Apple gear everywhere – and we really enjoyed shouting music orders at "virtual assistant", Alexa. "Alexa, play Miles Davis". "Alexa, play Linkin Park". It's probably a good thing we don't have one of these at home....


A little birdie had told the team at Ovolo Inchcolm it was our anniversary, and we were thrilled to find some bubbles ready for us in the room with a handwritten note from "team Inchy".

After a quick freshen up in the gorgeous bathroom we changed into our (rarely worn) "going out clothes" and went to check out the lobby bar.


For a small extra fee you can book Ovolo Inchcolm's "Freebies" package which includes a free Happy Hour at the bar and continental breakfast in the morning. We decided to take this option and definitely got our money's worth on gin & tonics alone.... the bartenders were lovely and knowledgeable. The rosé was pretty good, too – cheers!

Some delicious fancy nibbles were served and we felt ready to leave the hotel for just a little while (there was a function at the hotel restaurant that evening so we could not dine there) – we walked to the Barracks and enjoyed the Catalan cuisine of chef Javier at Moda Restaurant. 


After a great sleep in that fancy bed we still woke up early (you don't just undo 4 years of child enforced early wake-ups in one weekend) and enjoyed breakfast in the restaurant. The continental "freebie" breakfast was pretty basic (some muesli with berry yoghurt, a croissant and slice of toast with spreads, a juice and coffee or tea) so I recommend ordering from the a la carte menu (the omelette was delicious).

All in all we had a wonderful stay and forgot all about the everyday madness of parenting for just a little while. I couldn't recommend a staycation at Ovolo Inchcolm enough – all of the perks and none of the traffic!

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Your First Look at Brisbane’s New Overwater Bar

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Howard Smith Wharves throws open the doors to the highly anticipated Mr Percival's overwater bar and dining spot and Brisbane won't be the same again.

Part of the $200m revitalisation of Howard Smith Wharves, Mr Percival's joins Felons Brewing Co as the first of many drinking and dining spots to open in the new entertainment and lifestyle precinct. Greca Restaurant is next to open, followed by Stanley Cantonese Restaurant, Toko Japanese Restaurant, a deli, wine bar and the new Art Series Hotel The Fantauzzo.

The octagonal-shaped bar located under the iconic Story Bridge is inspired by European waterfront restaurants with an endless summer vibe that will resonate with Queenslanders.


Mr Percival's features an extensive wine list with a focus on Champagne and cocktails, perfect for sunset drinks. With a backdrop of the Brisbane River and city skyline, guests will be encouraged to visit often and stay late. To complement the drinks list, the menu will feature seafood dishes by head chef Damien Styles (formerly of The Fish House, Burleigh).

Swoon over the Insta-worthy interiors by Anna Spiro, from the architectural framework and speakeasy-style octagonal shaped bar, to the vintage palm tree fabrics and bespoke furniture by local Brisbane craftsman, there is beauty at every turn.


Admire the Victorian Ash timber lining the walls and the commissioned photography by up and coming photographer Tim Salisbury, who cruised along the Brisbane River in a dinghy snapping the nautical shots that now grace the walls of Mr Percival's.

Taking its name from the much-loved pelican character in the 1976 movie Storm Boy, it's a fitting choice for an overwater venue and will evoke a sense of nostalgia with diners.


Mr Percival's is sure to become a must-visit for locals, interstate visitors and global tastemakers.

Book a Brisbane City Break to enjoy Brisbane's newest entertainment & lifestyle precinct. Browse Brisbane's Best Accommodation here.

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Brisbane welcomes The Fantauzzo to Howard Smith Wharves

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It's all happening at the long awaited Howard Smith Wharves precinct with the opening of Felons Brewing Co, Mr Percival's overwater bar and now the announcement that the new Art Series hotel namesake will be Vincent Fantauzzo!

We've long admired Melbourne based artist Fantauzzo's work, known for his portraits of notable people including Heath Ledger, Matt Moran, Brandon Walters, Julia Gillard and his wife Asher Keddie, he has won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, the Archibald Packing Room Prize, and the Archibald People's Choice Award four times (yes, four times!).


The Fantauzzo will feature 166 guest rooms with custom contemporary furnishings, featuring both original artworks and up to 500 reproductions of Fantauzzo's most recognised works.

Breathing new life into the historic riverside precinct of Howard Smith Wharves, the $60million hotel will be carved into the cliff under the Story Bridge.


The six-storey hotel will also offer four distinct food and beverage outlets, an impressive rooftop pool boasting spectacular views of the Brisbane River and CBD, bar, gym and three conference rooms, fully equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology.

Due to open early 2019 under Brisbane's Story Bridge we can not wait to see Fantauzzo's artwork showcased in this new Brisbane boutique hotel.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information and bookings.


Image credit: HSW, Art Gallery NSW

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What’s it like to Blend Your Own Bundaberg Rum?

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It's not just hard-core Bundaberg Rum fans that visit the distillery and partake in the Blend Your Own experience; anyone visiting the Southern Great Barrier Reef region should visit the Bundaberg Rum Distillery for a quintessential Queensland experience.

Bundaberg Rum Tour

The Bundaberg Rum Tour starts with visitors exploring the museum and then immersing yourself in the distillery tour led by the experienced and entertaining guides. You'll learn about the history, check out the Molasses well - which holds up to 5 million litres of molasses, learn about the distilling process and view the grand Barrel House where the rum matures for a minimum of two years before its bottled. I'm surprised by the diversity of those attending the tour, all age groups are covered and there are plenty of families enjoying the tour.


Bundaberg Rum Blend Your Own Experience

Here's where the serious fun begins! Our exclusive group enter the dimly lit barrel room and are expertly advised on how to blend our own rum, crafting own personalised blend based on our individual taste and palate. You'll then pour your personal blend straight from the barrels into personally labelled bottles. In a completely genius idea, you head home with not one but two bottles. One to keep on display on your bar cart and one to enjoy now! Details of your personal blend are kept on file so you can reorder with ease.


Bundaberg Rum Tasting

After the blending experience, you return to the Bundaberg Rum Tasting Bar where you can sample any of the top shelf rums for their range. Cheers to that!

Queensland Tourism Award Winner

We were thrilled to be in the audience as Bundaberg Rum Distillery was announced as winner of the Best Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Breweries category of the Queensland Tourism Awards 2018 announced recently on the Gold Coast. After our experience, it's clear to see why Bundaberg Rum Distillery is an award winner; it's an impressive and educational experience whether you're a rum aficionado or simply curious about the process.


Visit Bundaberg Rum Distillery

Plan a trip to the birthplace of Australia's favourite rum and explore all that Bundaberg has to offer.

How much does the Bundaberg Rum Tour Cost?

The Bundaberg Rum Museum Experience from $19.00 Adult ticket
The Bundaberg Rum Distillery Experience Tour from $28.50 Adult ticket
The Bundaberg Rum Blend Your Own Experience $237.50 includes the Museum Experience, Distillery Tour, two personalised bottles of individually blended rum and two tastings from the premium range at the Rum Tasting Bar.

If you're looking for the Best Things to Do in Bundaberg, book tours and tickets here at Bundaberg Rum.

Bundaberg is approximately 4 hours' drive north of Brisbane or short 1-hour flight away. Plan your trip around the foodie festival Winterfeast in July or book a Mon Repos Turtle Encounter during the summer months.


Where to Stay in Bundaberg

We recommend basing yourself beachside at C Bargara Resort at Bargara. Browse and book here.

The writer was a guest of Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism.
Image credit: Bundaberg Rum, Sally Scott
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Luxperience 2018

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We recently 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 experienced 3 days of appointments with sellers from around the world, sharing the latest news and travel trends with us. Here are our highlights, tips and news in luxury travel and what's hot in Australia right now!


The Anchorage
The iconic Anchorage Port Stephens has unveiled a new adults only pool to complement the impressive five star facilities including the luxurious Spa Lucca. The lobby lounge, bar and restaurants have also received a makeover. Hemmingway Bar, with its sumptuous leather armchairs and fireplace is a whiskey bar you'll want to settle in to. The Wild Herring Restaurant helmed by Michael Jenkins delivers a superior seafood experience. Book a stay at The Anchorage here.

Bedarra Island Resort
Reopened in 2013 following Cyclone Yassi, the 10-villa adults only resort is looking better than ever. The all-inclusive, private, tropical haven is barefoot luxury at it's best.

The Tasman a Luxury Hotel Collection
Due to open in June 2019 in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart in repurposed heritage buildings in Parliament Square. The Tasman will boast 128 luxuriously appointed guest rooms and suites with carefully restored features including original windows, floorboards and fireplaces.

New upscale brand Voco by IHG will launch in Australia with Gold Coast announced as the first location in Australia. Previously known as Watermark Hotel and Spa Gold Coast, the hotel will relaunch as voco in late 2018. voco, inspired by the meaning 'to invite' or to 'come together' in Latin, will combine the informality and charm of an individual hotel, with quality and reassurance of a global brand, according to IHG.

The Louise, Barossa Valley
In addition to Signature restaurant Appellation you can enjoy more casual eats at Bar Louise. The menu includes snacks, local charcuterie plates, club sandwiches and burgers and is open 7 days. The Louise is constantly improving and evolving and an infinity edge pool was recently introduced with more exciting developments to be announced soon. Book a stay at the Louise here.

Sea Dragon Lodge, Kangaroo Island
We discovered stunning villas on Kangaroo Island with access to a private and secluded beach. The friendly owners can arrange bespoke tours of the island too. Coming to alluxia soon.

A Taste of South Australia
Still going strong after 30 years, Mary Anne Kennedy's tailor made tours are a must for discovering all the best foodie finds in South Australia.

Truffle Lodge
Truffle Lodge opened October last year with 8 luxury tents on the banks of the Derwent River just 39km from Hobart. This luxury glamping in Tasmania is coming to alluxia soon.



One & Only Nyungwe House, Rawanda
Yep, you read that correctly, Rawanda is so hot right now! With the new 24-room One & Only resort opening in October, Rwanda is emerging as a new luxury destination for jetsetters.

The Farm at San Benito
After a life-changing holiday? Book a stay at The Farm at San Benito just 90 minutes from Manila Airport. With a menu that includes a plant-based whole food vegan cuisine you're bound to return refreshed and revived.

Shinta Mani Wild, Cambodia
Forbes has called it the most hotly anticipated hotel opening and the latest Bensley Collection hotel will not disappoint. Guests will zip line in to the luxury tented camp in the jungle over waterfalls in the South Cardamon National Park for a wild time. Shinta Mani Wild opens 21 December.

The Pierre New York
This luxury hotel is a landmark hotel on Fifth Avenue boasting magnificent views of Central Park. Indulge in French-American cuisine at signature restaurant Perrine in NYC or partake in the coveted afternoon tea at Two E Bar/Lounge with bites by acclaimed Pastry Chef Michael Mignano.

Thanks to the Luxperience team for arranging a spectacular event for us as a hosted media. We'd also like to thank our accommodation hosts Sofitel Darling Harbour.

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Announcing Australia's Most Exciting New Culinary Festival

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The Curated Plate, a new four-day destination food festival is set to make its debut on the Sunshine Coast on August 8-11, 2019. In a celebration of the relationship between the chef and producer, the festival will bring together the region's finest produce with the best chefs in the Australian and international dining scene.

Exclusive culinary events will span the region, bringing to life the unique local culture. The Sunshine Coast's acclaimed produce and producers, sustainable practices, artisan culture, and health and wellness, will form key themes of the festival, with local experiences - from food trails to farms tours - also featuring in the program.


In a sneak peak of the line up of top chef talent, Tokyo's Zaiyu Hasegawa from the two Michelin Star restaurant, Den, will join the festival in a special collaboration with Sunshine Coast chef, Daniel Jarrett at his one Chef Hat restaurant, The Tamarind. As one of the most exciting and creative chefs in the world, Hasegawa this year took the Highest Climber Award in the coveted World's 50 Best Restaurants list; while on Asia's 50 Best list, Den was named the Best Restaurant in Japan and ranked second on the list.

The full festival program of events and talent line up will be revealed in March 2019 but save the date now!


From the refined chefs to the finest Sunshine Coast produce, you're invited to a food festival like no other. Against the backdrop of the region's diverse natural beauty, from the lush hinterland of rainforests and valleys, the majestic Glass House Mountains and iconic beaches, the scene is set for a revitalising holiday and culinary experiences that dreams are made of.

"The Sunshine Coast is one of Australia's premier regions for quality produce - it has more than 740 restaurants, 400 food tourism experiences, six dining precincts, 13 new craft breweries, some of the best farmers markets in the country and provides much of Queensland's fish, seafood, fruit, vegetables and poultry exports," said Mr Simon Latchford, CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast.


"While our beaches and year-round attractive climate might be the primary reasons for visitors choosing the Sunshine Coast for their holiday, the fact that we can deliver such high-quality food from paddock to plate is becoming an increasingly significant attraction for discerning travellers."

For all Curated Plate event details visit the Curated Plate event website and browse alluxia for our curated collection of Sunshine Coast luxury accommodation.

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Your first look at Ovolo The Valley!

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Following its acquisition of Emporium Hotel in January, award-winning Ovolo Hotel Group has announced a major multi-million-dollar evolution of the iconic property, which will see it become the flagship Queensland hotel for the group.

Brisbane's newest hotel will open as 'Ovolo The Valley' in November with Hotel Manager Daniel Meek (previously Ovolo Inchcolm) at the helm. The project by acclaimed global architecture firm Woods Bagot, the award-winning designers behind the revitalisation of Brisbane's Howard Smith Wharves and The Ivy in Sydney, will take Emporium into the new era with a hotel theme inspired by the eclectic culture and iconic history of Fortitude Valley. Ovolo The Valley will draw guests into a whimsical oasis of colour, art, and surprising hints of quirk, curated throughout its 103 rooms.

CEO and Chairman of the Ovolo Group, Girish Jhunjhnuwala (pictured below) says Ovolo has invested approximately $55 million in adding a niche boutique designer hotel to Brisbane's booming tourism and hospitality market.


"There are many newcomers to the Brisbane hotel market, but Ovolo's biggest point of difference is our exceptional customer service and design. We strive to exceed expectations and our rankings and customer feedback says it all. We are confident Ovolo The Valley will be a market leader for Brisbane in the near future," he said.

"Our brief to Woods Bagot was that each of our hotels must have their own unique personality and style, inspired by local surrounds, culture, heritage and Ovolo's playful, forward-thinking spirit, and they've delivered exactly that with The Valley."

"There is an element of fantasy, escapism and play in The Valley. We're positioning it as the perfect contemporary oasis to escape our busy urban lives," said Mr Jhunjhnuwala.

Woods Bagot's Principal and Hotel Sector Leader (Australia), Bronwyn McColl, says the design of Ovolo The Valley celebrates Fortitude Valley's eclectic mix—the rich colours of the streets and laneways, its social and cultural diversity. At the same time, with rooms inspired by nature for a whimsical luxe experience, it provides an unexpected, private oasis for guests.


"With an eccentric mix of art, fashion, style and a whole lot of fabulous, we've created a new personality in Brisbane's hotel market.

"We started by exploring the spaces behind The Valley's indiscernible facades and the spaces in-between and translated them into playful yet sophisticated experiences that take the Ovolo guest by surprise – including the most incredible rock star suites in honour of the late David Bowie with 1970s inspired velvet lounges and a gold bar for those who dare!" said Ms McColl.

The interior design for the new hotel's 103 rooms focus on creating a whimsical oasis for guests, replete with playful and colourful elements and commissioned art pieces, including custom wallpaper and eccentric furniture and illustrations.

Ovolo's effortless living ethos is no stranger at The Valley with 24-hour room service, large, flat screen televisions, Google Chromecast, additional wall plugs, phone chargers in rooms, and Amazon's Alexa cloud-based voice service, able to assist guests with just about every command. Ovolo The Valley, like the group's other hotels, will be a home-away-from-home for those who stay.


A rooftop swimming pool, gym, sauna, meeting rooms and Ovolo's signature standard inclusions – free breakfast, free WiFi, free in-room mini bar, free laundry and free happy hour drinks daily make The Valley the ultimate luxury hotel experience.

While Ovolo The Valley will open next month, work by Woods Bagot in collaboration with former Brisbanite, Chloe Want from AvroKO in New York, will continue on the hotel's stand-alone restaurant and bar concept to open on the ground level of the property early next year.

Food and drink is a big part of the Ovolo Hotel Group concept, with award-winning restaurants at their other Australian properties, including; Alibi at Ovolo Woolloomooloo (Sydney) fronted by restauranteur Matthew Kenney, Monster Kitchen & Bar at Ovolo Nishi (Canberra) and Salon De Co at Ovolo Inchcolm (Brisbane). The group recently opened Mister Percy at Ovolo 1888 (Sydney), a Mediterranean-style wine bar fronted by renowned chef Justin North.


Starting from $300 per night, the opening of Ovolo The Valley is set to lift Brisbane's hotel market to new heights through design, art and Ovolo's signature experience. Book Ovolo The Valley on here.

What do you think of the new look? Are you a lover of Ovolo Hotels?

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Alluxia 6th Birthday Prize Winner

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

Nikki Wallman

Nikki has won the Major Prize including Three (3) nights' accommodation in a one-bedroom villa at QT Port Douglas, a one hour Travelshoot experience and a $250 gift voucher from Adrift Clothing. 

Check your inbox for details on how to claim your prize. If the prize is not claimed within 7 days, it will be redrawn.

Congratulations to our winner and thank you for our generous partners QT Port Douglas, Travelshoot and Adrift Clothing.

Missed out, but would love a relaxing break in Port Douglas? Book QT Port Douglas on here.

You Might Also Like: Top Tips for Improved Travel Photography


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Review Little Albion Guest House

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


My uber driver cautiously drives up the narrow laneway in Sydney's inner city suburb of Surry Hills unsure where exactly he's taking me, as there are no discernable signs that a hip hotel is lurking in the back streets. Then suddenly the impressive structure looms large, a stunning architectural juxtaposition of glass, tile and bricks creating a soaring structure beautifully blending the old and the new into Sydney's newest hip hideaway.

The 35-room Little Albion Guest House opened in July after 3 years in the making, merging a heritage listed building with new construction and the design largely influenced by the 1920s and 1970s style in one perfect package.

I'm intrigued as to what defines Little Albion as a guesthouse rather than a boutique hotel? What unfolds is warm, personalised service which does feel more European guesthouse or pensione rather than impersonal hotel.


Surry Hills is a gritty, creative and foodie filled enclave on the fringe of Sydney's CBD. It's home to fashion designers, creative agencies, media types and tech start-ups and is now well and truly gentrified making it one of Sydney's most sought after suburbs for property, but has been largely lacking in quality accommodation.

Now, alongside the coolest restaurants, small bars and boutiques Sydney has to offer you can stay in style and luxury at Little Albion Guest House. While the Little Albion Guest House hosts prefer to chat with their guests (you won't find a compendium in the room, but a simple list of House Rules) there is a cute little pocket size neighbourhood guide which will point you in the right direction for the best coffee, culture and curated tips for making the most of your Sydney stay.


The Room
Little Albion Guest House offers a range of room types from the compact 'crash pad' to the luxurious 'Big Albion' designer suite with four-poster bed. We check in to a 'Classic' room with high ceilings, double-glazed windows overlooking Albion Street, heritage fireplace and art deco style.

The cloud-like King Bed promises a good night sleep and the room is filled with thoughtful touches like fresh flowers, water jug which was refreshed daily, T2 tea, delicious Whisk & Pin biscuits and soft robes from The Cotton Company and slippers.


The beautiful bathroom features stunning Moroccan tiles, marble washstands and brass-trimmed mirror, huge rain shower, Molton Brown amenities and a freestanding bath complete with relaxation salts. After a day walking Sydney city and strolling back from Central Station, it's a pleasure to return to the luxurious bathroom for a relaxing soak.




There are plenty of quiet corners at Little Albion Guest House to mix and mingle with guests or peacefully retreat to read a book. There's a sunken lounge in the lobby area opening out to a sunny courtyard filled with plants. The petite rooftop terrace has stunning urban views and chic wrought iron furniture giving it a real Parisian feel.


Downstairs in the lounge you'll find an honour bar with a brilliant selection of craft beer, wine and even mini bottled cocktails plus lemons & limes and everything you need to fix the perfect drink. Little Albion beautifully caters to the solo traveller too with a good selection of half bottles of wine to be enjoyed in the bar or whisked up to your room.

A light breakfast is included in your stay and served in the little lounge. It's a simple selection of quality cereal, pastries, bread and condiments and I persuade the Italian guests at the next table to try Vegemite (they don't really thank me for that experience)! I actually encounter mostly European guests during my stay, obviously attracted by the pensione style property. While all day coffee is conveniently on offer in the lounge, the pod machine doesn't quite cut it for me and I venture across the road to the buzzing café Reuben Hills for the perfect brew.



The whole concept of Little Albion Guest House has been beautifully executed. The attention to detail and design is to be applauded. Even the corridors are impressive, painted an on-trend millennial pink, with art deco bespoke carpets, custom light fittings and magnificent artworks adorn the walls featuring quirky portraits of infamous Surry Hills personalities.

If you're wondering where to stay in Sydney, then consider Little Albion Guest House if you prefer a boutique hotel, high on style and warm hosts providing an authentic service experience.

Little Albion Guest House
21 Little Albion Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Book Little Albion Guest House here.

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Next Hotel Brisbane Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


It's not often you holiday in your home city, but I love the idea of a staycation and there is something special about holidaying at home and seeing your city in a whole new light that fills me with excitement. I had the best intentions to make my staycation at Next Hotel a writers retreat of sorts, an opportunity for some quiet time, reflection and travel writing. Impossible! There were simply too many wondrous distractions...

It's fair to say, from the moment I arrived Next Hotel firmly exceeded my expectations. I shouldn't have been surprised, it's a multi-award winning hotel, recently picking up yet another accolade for Best Tech Hotel at the HM Awards, but it's easy to overlook what's in your own backyard.


You can't get more central than smack bang in the Queen Street Mall. Next Hotel soars graciously above Brisbane's shopping hub, making it a great choice for a shopping getaway. An escalator from lobby level deposits you directly into the heart of the action with all the major retailers present including Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, Myer, David Jones and more. High-end retailers like Tiffany & Co, Dior and Louis Vuitton are also dangerously close. It's also a few steps away from the Treasury Casino and an easy stroll across the Victoria Bridge to South Bank and the city's cultural precinct.

It's perfectly central if you're sans car, or if you are driving, valet parking is available by accessing the hotel's rear entrance in Burnett Lane or self-parking at the Myer Centre. Burnett Lane is also home to some sneaky little laneway bars, cafes and restaurants that are worth discovering.


The Room
Don't you love it when a hotel just gets you? A welcome card and cheese platter greets me on my arrival and convinces me I'm in for a treat.

The Deluxe King room is perfectly designed, with everything you need and everything exactly where you need it. The rooms are modern, minimalist and a little bit masculine with dark woods and furnishings in chocolate and navy tones. I love the open plan design, where bedroom and bathroom flows seamlessly, making the room feel even larger. If you have company, doors magically appear for privacy. Plenty of mirrors, good lighting, bench space and Biology amenities makes for a sleek and luxurious design.


Beds are super comfy, the specially sourced DreamWeave Sleep System mattress ensures a good night sleep in tandem with superior block out curtains.

Tech savvy travellers will love the bedside Samsung Smart device and the Next Hotel App where you can order room service, control the room temperature and even take the smart phone out with you while exploring the city and utilise the WiFi hot spot. Luddites might struggle with all the technology and even I struggled to access the Pressreader app which boasts 2,000 newspaper and magazine titles to browse at your leisure.


The Pool Terrace and Bar is an oasis in the city. High above the Queen Street Mall there's no better place to witness golden hour as the golden rays dance off the surrounding heritage buildings and the swimming pool sparkles.

Adjacent to the pool, Next Lounge brings the club lounge experience to everyone. All guests can access the lounge 24/7; similar to an exclusive executive club floor usually reserved for the fortunate few elsewhere, it's accessible to all in-house guests at Next. The lounge is filled with couches; boardroom tables, a library and free flowing tea and coffee station. It's the perfect spot to hang if you're in transit and perfect for business travellers to meet colleagues in comfort and style. For international travellers, Next offer sleep pods, luggage storage and showers to refresh. The sleep pods are futuristic contraptions and I'm not sure how much use they receive, but it's a cute gimmick.


Breakfast is a lesson in restraint. I'm not usually a fan of buffets, but Lennon's is a quality offering deliberately providing only a small selection of items and replenishing frequently. There are the usual suspects such as pastries and cereal but with some unique variations like design your own breakfast bruschetta. Guests are also invited to choose from the a la carte menu and enjoy a hot breakfast cooked to order such as eggs Benedict.

Lunch at Lennons is a must after a day of shopping. During our stay the winter special was in play, featuring a small selection of delicious menu items plus and glass of wine for $20. How good is that? We chose a classic club sandwich and Pain aux Champignons feauturing forest mushrooms, truffled honey and quark on brioche.


On Lobby level, Lennons to Go is a great concept for the busy business traveller with a selection of grab and go items and snacks available as well as tempting local artisan treats such as Dello Mano brownies and New Farm Confectionery.

The Verdict
Next Hotel offers wondrous distractions at every turn. An epic welcome cheese platter and free in-house movies put an end to any writing plans for the evening. Next is a stylish, comfortable choice in the heart of the city with a modern and tech savvy edge.

There are plenty of new hotels on the horizon in Brisbane, but when a hotel just nails it, there's really no reason to go anywhere else.

Next Hotel Brisbane
72 Queen Street, Brisbane
Book Next Hotel Brisbane here.

The writer was a guest of Next Hotel Brisbane.
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Review Elements of Byron Adults Only Pool

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If you ever needed a reason to get away to Elements of Byron, this is it. The new Adults Only Pool delivers coastal cool style and a chilled vibe for a weekend of relaxation and indulgence.

We recently returned to Elements of Byron for a girls' getaway, keen to check-out the changes as Elements has expanded significantly since our last stay. We first revealed the dramatic expansion plans here which included adding 99 villas to the sprawling resort, heating the main lagoon style pool, adding an adults-only pool, seasonal beach bar plus some family oriented additions including a children's playground. So what's the vibe like now with all these changes? In a word, fabulous!


Everything you love about Elements of Byron remains, the epic lagoon pool with hanging lounges, poolside fire pit and beachside yoga but now with more luxe two bedroom villas and an epic adults only pool, you have a world-class resort in the laid-back town of Byron Bay that can't be beat.

We checked in and headed straight to the beach and the Botanica Beach Club for sunset drinks. The beachfront bar serves drinks from the cutest coastal caravan, the cocktail list is a sunny collection of concoctions and we chose a twist on the Aperol Spritz with passionfruit and lemon myrtle. The result was delicious cocktails the size of my head, yesss!


The new one and two bedroom villas are nestled among the Eucalypt forest and are a 5-minute stroll from the beach. We were generously upgraded to a new Superior Two Bedroom Villa for our girls' getaway weekend. The new villas blend seamlessly with the originals and are decked out in the same luxurious style you've come to expect at Elements including spacious living and sleeping areas, sophisticated styling and all the modern conveniences.

Our two-bedroom two-bathroom villa is divided by a spacious central living room and kitchen. The living room looks out to a large fully enclosed deck with gas heater and 2-seater lounge. The beauty of the two-bedroom villas is they are great for sharing with family or friends and offer a full kitchen including cooktop, microwave, coffee machine and fully stocked with all you need to cook up a storm, or just prepare a grazing cheese platter as we did. Both rooms have king beds (can be split to twin) and one bathroom boasts a free-standing bath with local Byron Bath Organics Luxury Bath Tea a unique blend of dead sea, Epsom and pink Himalayan bath salts for some serious soaking.


But the standout of the new look resort is the exclusive Adults-Only Pool. It completely exceeded my expectations; more than just a pool sans kids, it's an adults playground with swim up bar, luxurious lounge deck, cabanas, tequila and taco style food van, you can even swing at the bar! The vibe is relaxed and cool with great tunes and the staff appear to be enjoying themselves as much as the guests.


The result is a haven for adults amongst a family friendly resort. We spent the day at the AO pool, lounging about in the cabana, drinking cocktails and eating tacos before chasing the sun to the main pool to catch the final rays of the day.

We dragged ourselves away from the resort only briefly to enjoy breakfast at nearby Barrio Byron Bay, lunch at The Farm, dinner & drinks at Roadhouse and catch a gig (The Preatures regional tour) at Byron Bay Brewery. Really, you won't want to leave.


While you might be on holidays and craving a sleep-in, resist the temptation and rise early to catch the beachside yoga. It's always a highlight of a stay at Elements, although the number of guests turning up now exceeds the size of the small yoga deck since the expansion, so arrive early to secure a prime spot.

It's no secret we're lovers of Elements of Byron; after all this was our fourth stay at the resort since it's opening two years ago and it just keeps getting better and better! The new two bedroom villas make the resort perfect for girls' getaways or family holidays with plenty of areas for both camps to holiday harmoniously, enjoying all that Elements of Byron has to offer.


Elements of Byron
144 Bayshore Drive, Byron Bay NSW
Book Elements of Byron here or browse our collection of Byron Bay Accommodation.

Images: alluxia's own or supplied.


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Bannisters Port Stephens Opens September 2018

Posted on in Travel News


The sleepy village of Soldiers Point is getting a wake up call with the opening of the much-hyped Bannisters Port Stephens.

Bannisters have expanded their coastal luxury boutique brand from the picturesque New South Wales South Coast town of Mollymook to the coastal shores of Port Stephens.


Formerly known as Salamander Shores at Soldiers Point, the existing hotel has had a complete makeover to reveal a luxe 4.5 star hotel featuring 80 rooms, including four luxury suites and a penthouse. 50 rooms will boast bay views over the Karuah River with the remaining rooms offering forest and bushland outlooks.

Bannisters Port Stephens will feature a huge infinity pool with pool bar, plus a pub for casual dining, a terrace serving modern Australian cuisine & signature restaurant by celebrated chef and TV presenter, Rick Stein. The new dining experiences are sure to be a hit with holidaymakers and locals alike.


Rick Stein is excited to be bringing a new Bannisters to life. "It's another beautiful stretch of New South Wales coastline, like Mollymook. My wife Sas has long been a lover of the Port Stephens area, and even stayed in the old Salamander Shores hotel when she was 19. When we saw the landscape from the lookout above Nelson Bay we were filled with a sense of excitement to see an almost continuous vista of bays, headlands, peninsula and the open sea beyond."

Stein is particularly excited about the local produce the restaurant will use. "The abundance of top quality seafood is a massive attraction as is the proximity to the Hunter Valley's wineries. I will be working closely with Head Chef, Mitchell Turner designing a menu featuring local king prawns, Yellow fin bream, flathead, calamari and school whiting, not to mention the fabulous oysters."


Bannisters Port Stephens, where barefoot luxury and stunning scenery meet Rick Stein's passion for traditional and modern seafood opens on 7 September 2018.

Bannisters Port Stephens
147 Soldiers Point Road, Soldiers Point NSW 2317
For accommodation enquiries and bookings contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Browse our collection of Port Stephens accommodation here.

Image credit: Bannisters-David Griffen Photography
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Bundaberg’s Best Breakfast Spots

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10


If there's one thing that gets you out of bed on holidays, it's the promise of a good breakfast. Australians love breakfast, whether it's poached, smashed or drizzled with maple we can't get enough of eating out for breakfast and discovering the regions best. But where to find the best breakfast when you're visiting Bundaberg?

Bundaberg is blessed with an abundance of quality, local produce and Bundy's best cafes often proudly declare the origins of their locally grown produce on the menu. So, after sampling more than we'd care to admit on our recent visit during the Bundaberg Winterfeast, here's our roundup of Bundaberg's best breakfast spots.


The Pocket Storehouse
The tiniest bakery in Australia has a cult following here in Bundaberg. Only open to the public on Saturdays, we lined up with dozens of passionate locals at 6.30am on a chilly morning to score the best sourdough and treats in town! Enjoy your spoils from this hole in the wall bakery and sit in the sunshine drinking Helen's Hoti hand-crafted Kombucha or Barking Dog coffee to start the morning right. Don't miss the sourdough cinnamon scrolls; they are a taste sensation!


Indulge Café 
Bundaberg's iconic Indulge café has been under the guidance of chef/owner Mitchell White since 2016 after he took over from founder Amanda Hinds, widely regarded as having been responsible for raising the profile of the city's food scene. The same ethos remains today with a focus on sourcing the freshest, local ingredients and working in partnership with local producers to turn their quality ingredients into unique and spectacular dishes. The French Toast with One Little Farm's fresh strawberries, bundy lime curd, blueberry crush, ice-cream and Bundaginga crumble is a real showstopper!


The Windmill Cafe
Don't be fooled by the super kitsch giant windmill setting, the quirky building houses a wonderous local café in the beachside suburb of Bargara run by amiable manager Joey Caruana. This family and pet friendly café welcomes all with a delicious breakfast and lunch menu, just save room for some award-winning gelato. The Windmill Stack featuring seared and roasted haloumi, Barrit's Bacon, Bronnie's Worcestershire glazed mushrooms with a poached local free-range egg served on toasted sourdough and topped with more of Bronnie's much loved Worcestershire Sauce was supremely satisfying. The colourful Breakfast Bowl is also incredibly delicious and insta worthy.


Water St Kitchen 
Bundaberg's beloved Water St is serious about coffee, serving up superior Single O coffee to loyal locals. The sophisticated space is adorned with luscious floral wallpaper, teamed with French-style bistro chairs, fine crystal and floral bouquets throughout the café. The seasonal menu includes gems such as roasted field mushrooms, cherve, sourdough and rosemary crumbs.
Water St Kitchen is currently under renovation and reopening 12 September 2018 to reveal a new outdoor dining area.


With an eclectic style and peaceful vibe, Oodies is a little odds and ends café that delivers a little slice of warmth and heart to Bundy. The extensive breakfast menu, indulgently available until 2pm features Breakfast Bruschetta with cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion, fetta and parmesan with a balsamic drizzle or Oodies Homemade Beans served with sourdough toast. Oodies serves quality Toby's Estate coffee so be sure to get your caffeine fix.


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

Image: Water St Kitchen, IG @alluxia

The writer was a guest of Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism.

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A New Abode in Canberra

Posted on in Travel News


Canberra welcomes a new Abode with the opening today of Abode Kingston.

Located in the heart of Kingston's town centre, Abode Kingston features 63 stylishly appointed studio rooms, guest lounge and their signature Abode Pantry stocked with gourmet goodies and local wine. Abode Kingston's premium inner-south location means guests are spoilt for choice with a plethora of highly acclaimed restaurants, bars and cafes just moments away.


Identifying a trend toward pet-friendly hotels, the all new Abode Kingston will happily be welcoming pets to accompany your stay for an additional fee of just $40/night.

Abode Kingston is the sixth hotel within the flagship Abode Hotels portfolio by independent hotel operator Iconic Hotels (formerly known as Abode Group). In exciting news, Iconic Hotels have also announced two more hotels are in development in Canberra's inner-north and west, slated for Braddon and Belconnen.


In addition, three luxury hotel offerings unparalleled in the Canberra accommodation market will also open in the Parliamentary Triangle, Canberra City and Kingston Arts precinct within the next four years, making Iconic Hotels certainly one to watch.

We've already fallen for Iconic Hotels' boutique offering in the popular Canberra wine region Abode Murrumbateman and you can read our full verdict here. The 50 room hotel is a real game changer, opening up the possibility of luxe for less wine weekends in Murrumbateman surrounded by iconic wineries such as Clonakilla, Helm Wines and Eden Road Wines.


Abode Kingston welcomes its first guests today. Be amongst the first to stay with bookings available on alluxia here, with no booking or credit card fees.

Abode Kingston
14 Kennedy Street, Kingston ACT 2604
Book here.

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High Tea Brisbane – Bacchus Quintessential High Tea

Posted on in Travel Tips


Brisbane's home of elegant dining, Bacchus has introduced a Spring Quintessential High Tea that's not to be missed and we were thrilled to be invited for a little sneak preview.

The elegant surroundings of Bacchus provide the perfect setting for an afternoon of tasting tiny morsels, chatting with friends and sipping tea and bubbles.

The origins of High Tea are a fascinating tale. In the mid-19th century, Anna the 7th Duchess of Bedford experienced something many of us feel during the late afternoon – 'that sinking feeling'. Her solution? A lovely pot of tea and nibbling some cakes and sandwiches with her close companions. Soon, other social hostesses realised it was a wonderful way to enjoy the company of friends (while eating the most delightful sweet creations) and so the English High Tea was born!


Fast forward 150 years and that time-honoured tradition continues by indulging in High Tea to eliminate 'that sinking feeling' and spending quality time with friends over a cup of tea (or glass of Champagne) and a selection of delicious delicacies.

Bacchus deliver a quality high tea experience fit for a Queen with guests dining on the very finest William Edwards bone China from England – the same crockery used at The Goring, where the late Queen Mother enjoyed taking High Tea. A selection of tea is available from New York master tea blenders Harney & Sons. I opted for the Bacchus Bespoke Blend, an English breakfast style tea.

Bacchus' Spring Quintessential High Tea features three tiers of delciousness. Starting with the lower level savoury treats, where the highlight was the Black Brioche with Chicken and Celery as well as the Smoked Salmon & Dill Crème Fraiche on Tomato Bread, all made on the premises.

The middle level tier features your high tea essential, freshly baked scones with 'Bonne Maman' French Raspberry jam and cream which were just perfect.


Make room for the top tier, the decadent sweet treat showstoppers included the delicious Almond Dacquoise, White Glaze & Blackberry, Opera Cake and Raspberry Macarons.

The new Spring menu is inventive and unique, whilst paying homage to the traditional English High Tea. The Spring Quintessential High Tea is $42 per person. The culinary curators at Bacchus have also designed four additional High Tea experiences complemented by the finest sparkling and Champagne including:

Chandon Sparkling High Tea ~ $57 per person
Quintessential High Tea served with a glass of Chandon Brut NV on arrival

Rosé Sparkling High Tea ~ $57 per person
Quintessential High Tea served with a glass of Chandon Rosé NV on arrival

Moët Champagne High Tea ~ $65 per person
Quintessential High Tea served with a glass of Moët et Chandon NV on arrival

Dom Pérignon Champagne High Tea ~ $110 per person
Quintessential High Tea served with a glass of Dom Pérignon 2009 on arrival


The Bacchus Brisbane High Tea is available every Tuesday to Sunday afternoon and Bacchus can also cater to specific dietary requirements such as gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan at no extra cost. For more information and to book, contact Bacchus Restaurant, Brisbane on 07 3364 0837.

Do you love a High Tea? Where is your favourite High Tea experience in Australia and do you seek out a High Tea when you're travelling?

The writer was a guest of Bacchus Brisbane.
Image credit: Peter Wallis for Bacchus
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How to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer Points Fast

Posted on in Travel Tips


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).


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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Mister Percy opens at Ovolo 1888

Posted on in Travel Tips


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."


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.


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


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Bundaberg Farmers - Australia’s new foodie rock stars

Posted on in Travel Tips


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:


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.


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.


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


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.


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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Taste Champagne 2018

Posted on in Travel Tips


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.


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.


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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Bundaberg Region Winterfeast

Posted on in Travel Tips


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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QT Port Douglas Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


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. 


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?


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!


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.


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.


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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Abode Murrumbateman Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Top Tip for Improved Travel Photography

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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.


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.


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!


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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Canberra Truffle Festival 2018

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Alamanda Palm Cove Review – Palm Cove Perfection

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


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!


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.


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.


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.


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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World Gin Day | Cape Byron Distillery

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Alex Hotel Perth Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


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.


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.


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:


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!


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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Dorchester on the Beach Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


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.


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!


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.


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.


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


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

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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.


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:

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.

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.

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

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


Image credit: Head chef Thomas Boyd of Margan in Broke. HVWTA by MJK Creative
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Emporium South Bank unveils Opal Restaurant in August

Posted on in Travel News


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.


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.


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."


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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Cartier Exhibition in Canberra

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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.


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.


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.


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 here.

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

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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.


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.


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.


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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Relax and rejuvenate at Gaia Retreat

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Bendooley Estate Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month


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.


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.


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


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

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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:


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.


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.


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...


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.


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

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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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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:



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)


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



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


Australian Capital Territory

Canberra - Little National Hotel from $155 per night

South Australia

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


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


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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