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20
Mar
0

What's New in Noosa

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Think you know Noosa? Our favourite coastal getaway destination has some cool new additions to its shopping and dining scene with some activities thrown in for good measure. These newbies will have you lusting after a Noosa getaway quick smart.

Providore on Hastings
Before you kick start your weekend, head to Providore on Hastings to stock up on gourmet groceries, freshly prepared meals and keep caffeinated with Little Cove Coffee Co. Stocking Sunshine Coast local favourites such as Woombye Cheese and Kenilworth Cheese, pair with olives, meats, crackers and breads and you have yourself the perfect cheese platter or picnic hamper to explore nearby Noosa National Park.
Nestled in the Netanya Noosa lobby, 75 Hastings St, Noosa

MOTO Bar
For a bit of grunt and grunge with your latte, check out newcomer MOTO – bringing custom made motorbikes, craft beers, food and coffee to a quiet corner of Noosa Junction. Moto believes in supporting local mates and will be rotating a selection of Sunshine Coast and Queensland regional brews across the taps as well as serving coffee by Noosa's Clandestino Roasters with their own MOTO Roast.
66 Noosa Drive, Noosa Heads

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The Cooking School Noosa
Brought to you by the talented team at Wasabi Restaurant, The Cooking School Noosa are seasonal affairs to take advantage of produce picked from their own farm Honeysuckle Hill or sourced from the local Noosa Farmer's Market. Lead by Wasabi Chef's as well as guest chefs, each class has a maximum of 10 people where you'll enjoy a hands on experience before enjoying your spoils matched with premium beverages for $250pp.
2 Quamby Place, Noosa Heads

Bordertown Cocktails and Cantina
A swanky new burger joint has opened overlooking the Noosa River serving American and Mexican (thus Bordertown) street food with a sophisticated drinks list to rival city bars. Brought to you by a trio of co-founders whose past Brisbane venues included The Zoo, The Bowery, Skyroom and The Buffalo Club bringing some city sophistication to the relaxed locale. Discover a blend of breakfast, tacos, burgers, booze and low and slow barbecue at Bordertown Cocktails and Cantina.
253 Gympie Tce, Noosaville

Village Bicycle
Over summer, Village Bicycle moved to new digs in Noosa Junction where they're pedalling food, booze and good times. Relax on the front patio and watch the world go by or head inside to the dark and moody indoor area or check out the beer garden and enjoy tacos for days.
16 Sunshine Beach Road, Noosa Heads

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Noosa Flow
A bright and breezy boutique Pilates and Wellness Studio has also recently opened with a focus on recharging your body and rejuvenating your soul. With stunning water views over Noosa River and state-of-the-art equipment, the Noosa Flow studio offers visitors an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
14/203 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville

Grab Rock
Feel like a little nature, adventure and adrenaline? Check out Grab Rock and experience abseiling down Noosa's Mt Tinbeerwah, one of Australia's highest abseils! Adventure seekers will enjoy a half-day experience, sunset abseil from $65pp with all gear and training included. Transfers from your accommodation can also be arranged.

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Freedom Trail
Live like a local and enjoy a guided tour of Noosa. Whether it's discovering the Noosa National Park, surfing, stand-up paddling, yoga outdoors or enjoying the vibrant music scene, the team from Freedom Trail will provide a personalised experience where you live like a local.

Are you planning a Noosa getaway? Browse our Noosa and Sunshine Coast accommodation here or join us on the Noosa Food & Wine Weekend. Any new openings in Noosa we've missed?

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16
Mar
0

New Look for Larmont Sydney

Posted on in Travel Tips

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We recently toured the new look Larmont Sydney and were blown away with the recent renovations!

Larmont Sydney is tucked away behind the iconic Coca-Cola sign in the bohemian borough of Potts Point, surrounded by fab restaurants, cafes and bars and a hop, skip and jump from the CBD. Personally, the Potts Point/Darlinghurst area is my preferred location to stay in Sydney to give you that 'living like a local' vibe with the convenience and access to the city.

Larmont is managed by family-owned Lancemore Group who operate luxury boutique hotels across Australian including alluxia favourites Alamanda Palm Cove and Lindenderry at Red Hill. The $8m refurbishment of Larmont Sydney by Lancemore Group was led by CEO Julian Clark in collaboration with internationally acclaimed HASSELL Studio.

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We can verify, the design elements are certainly impressive, making even the most compact room feel light and spacious. Key design features include semi open bathrooms with free-standing vanity combined with open wardrobes to allow access to harbour and city views and a more open plan feel, but still providing privacy where it counts.

The new design aims to unclutter the traditional hotel room through intuitive use of space and concealment of amenities such as ironing board (concealed in wardrobe drawer) minibar, Nespresso machine and Iron (vanity). I particularly liked the stylish felt hanging magazine organiser which gives the room a Scandinavian design feel. 

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In addition to the impressive refurbishment of existing rooms, Lancemore have invested a further $12m in acquiring the residential penthouse apartments on the 11th and 12th floors, thereby adding 28 rooms to the property, bringing it to a total of 103 guest rooms.

Pet lovers will rejoice that Larmont have maintained its Sydney pet-friendly status by retaining four courtyard rooms for its four-legged friends. The pet-friendly Courtyard Rooms offer all the creature comforts of home including a welcome treat, food, water bowls and a bed.

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Wellness is also at the hotel's core with onsite yoga studio inviting guests to enjoy complimentary yoga or pilates classes in addition to complimentary 24-hour access to Anytime Fitness.

This month, Larmont launched their new restaurant The Hyde, with Head Chef Christian Colognesi (ex-Bambini Trust Restaurant) at the helm. Open breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week, The Hyde will surely make its mark on the already impressive food scene in Potts Point. In-house guests will also enjoy complimentary wine, beer or house spirit with lunch or dinner at The Hyde, just one of many bespoke guest amenities on offer at Larmont Sydney.

We may have just discovered our new Sydney bolthole.

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Larmont Sydney
14 Kings Cross Road, Potts Point
Book online with no fees here at alluxia.

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16
Feb
0

Hottest New Hotel Openings in 2017

Posted on in Travel Tips

This year is set to sizzle with a host of hot new hotels slated to open across Australia in 2017. Sure there are plenty of new hotels of the chain variety set to open in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, but we have our eye for style on the boutique, unique and independent.

Here are details of the most anticipated new hotel openings in 2017:

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Jackalope, Mornington Peninsula
Just 44 sleeps until this luxury hotel opens in Victoria's Mornington Peninsula on the rural surrounds of Willow Creek Vineyard. Comprising 46 luxury rooms overlooking the vines and rural surrounds and boasting curated designer details throughout, this is luxury re-imagined. Sure to become one of the "must visit" dining destinations, guests will enjoy onsite Doot Doot Doot Restaurant and lobby wine bar. Standby for Australia's most anticipated new art hotel.

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MACq 01 Hotel, Hobart
The Federal Group are set to open their 113-room luxury hotel on Hobart's waterfront as part of a $35 redevelopment of the Macquarie Wharf Shed on 1 June 2017. The idea behind MACq 01 is the create a hotel inspired by the unique character and people of Tasmania to offer a quintessentially Tasmanian experience like no other. We can hardly wait for this storytelling hotel to open mid year.

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Spicers Potts Point, Sydney
We're already fans of everything Spicers Retreats including their flagship Spicers Peak Lodge, so we're beside ourselves with excitement for the unveiling of Spicers Potts Point on 1 June 2017. A departure from their regional outposts, this boutique inner city hotel will feature 16 rooms and 4 suites over three traditional terraces in Sydney's Potts Point. The boutique hotel will also feature a bar, breakfast kitchen and guest lounge.

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 November 2017. 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.

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Pinky's Eco-Retreat and Beach Club, Rottnest Island
WA's favourite holiday island is about to receive its first "glamping" accommodation with the launch of Pinky's Eco Retreat and Beach Club. While catering to all budgets, the resort will feature 29 luxury eco-tents complete with ensuites and high level comforts. The resort will also feature a beach club including licensed bar, café, restaurant and function facilities with views across the ocean to Perth.

Soul of Gerringong, South Coast
It's still in the planning, but there are talks Soul of Gerringong on the beautiful South Coast of NSW may open as a 5-room guest house with each room featuring its own en-suite and sharing an open plan kitchen and living area. Due to open midyear, the luxury farmhouse may also be booked for exclusive use as a 5-bedroom luxe holiday house with pool and sleeping 8-10 guests in style. Additional to the farmhouse there will be a guesthouse that can sleep a further 4 guests.

Hottest New Holiday Houses...
We also have some hot new holiday houses on our radar including a Brisbane holiday house in a renovated Queenslander in trendy New Farm due to welcome guests in 2017.

Sister property to Toraja Luxury, Villa Toraja is set to open in the coming months in the Byron Bay Hinterland and will be the perfect getaway for two. Ayindi Beach House in Byron Bay has been closed for extensive renovations and we can't wait for to see the transformation – due to open late February 2017.

Have we missed any fab new luxury boutique hotel developments set to open in 2017? Let us know below!

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05
Feb
0

Bistro Officina Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

Escape to Bistro Officina for a taste of European style in the Southern Highlands.

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The Southern Highlands is an enchanting destination to visit in any season. Country charm abounds with cosy cottages, boutiques, antique stores and now a modern European restaurant to rival the city.

Bistro Officina wasn't easy to find, the address led me to Berida Manor yet their website made no mention of a hotel, but after spotting the tiny antler logo - voila! I'm in. No wonder there wasn't any mention of the Manor, as this is no ordinary hotel restaurant. Instead you're greeted with a modern, light filled space with two large dining rooms, a cosy bar and open kitchen. Ivy climbs around the large picture windows providing stunning views of the grounds beyond.

Midweek, the scene was quite convivial, with the well-heeled diner's talking in hushed tones, some even in French, adding to the overall European atmosphere. 

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Bistro Officina takes its name from World War II times when Mussolini was in power in Italy. In a time of deep corruption, censorship, control and lack of freedom, many underground garages opened up at the back of houses, where Italian grandmothers would cook their delicious homemade pasta to sell to the poor people riddled by war. These little "garages" were called Officina.

The newly opened Bistro Officina is fast attracting a loyal local following with the Southern Highlands foodies. The concept is based on fire, wood and charcoal, where everything is cooked in the wood oven and proteins are grilled over the charcoal. It makes for rustic, traditional European cooking.

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To fully appreciate the restaurant's capabilities, we opted for the 4 course experience, it would be churlish not to! We advised the waiter we were happy with anything on the menu and we were in the chef's hands.

First up was the house sourdough bread with smoked butter. With a generous serving of 4 portions, I was in danger of filling up on bread, but it was so delicious I couldn't resist. It's rather fashionable these days to abstain from bread/carbs, but the charming owner Alex who hails from France and her husband chef Nicola from Naples, exclaims, "We're European, we love bread!" and I know I'm in good company.

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Entrée is exquisite and not something I would have chosen which is why it's great to trust the chef! The King fish, stracciatella and melon is delicate and an elegant starter. The bread came in handy to soak up the remaining delicious soup; it's the French way after all.

For my second course, I'd hinted I'd love to try the gnocchi and so I was thrilled to be presented with the grilled gnocchi with shiitake mushrooms, pecora jamberoo, beurre noisette. Curds and selected cheeses served at Bistro Officina are from Pecora Dairy an award winning local farm situated in Robertson, in the heart of the Southern Highlands. The gnocchi was perfection, soft fluffy pillows of gnocchi made from local potatoes balanced by beautiful flavours, but far too filling and large for a degustation.

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With two courses still to come, I am in danger of being too full after devouring the bread and gnocchi. I groan and rub my belly as Alex takes the half finished gnocchi away. When I comment the serving size is too large, she says, "Have you seen the size of my husband?" clearly he's a generous man who loves to feed his guests.

I notice Chef Nicola performs a loud clap when meals are ready for service, rather than a traditional bell favoured by other restaurants, but it's Nicola that deserves all the applause.

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Next up and deviating from the menu once again (due to the nature of fresh produce and availability), I'm served Lamb tenderloin with smoked eggplant. Its tender and delicious, but again an overly generous serving size.

I'm so pleased to be served a light palate cleaner of sorbet with mint next, although this is just a minor reprieve before dessert is served. What follows are a selection of chocolate and strawberry petit fours with strawberries picked straight from the garden. Surely I'm done; I've already consumed more than 4 courses? I speak too soon as another generous portion of Tiramisu is presented in front of me. I'm sadly defeated.

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The extensive wine list has a great selection of local wines and I opted for a Cherry Tree Hill Cabernet Merlot Rose from Sutton Forest. Service was excellent from both my waiter Zack and owner Alex. I'd definitely return and would love to try the small plates and cocktails in the bar, particularly in winter by the fire.

The 4 course experience will set you back $70, but you absolutely won't go hungry. A visit to Bowral and Bistro Officina is ideal for a weekend escape; book a night with alluxia whilst grazing your way through a taste of European style in the Southern Highlands.

Bistro Officina
6 David St, Bowral NSW
ph: 02 4861 7787

Images: IG @alluxia

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31
Jan
0

Food & Wine Festivals 2017

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Each year we share a comprehensive list of Food & Wine Festivals in Australia.

If you love food and wine as much as we do, you'll devour this list and start planning a few gourmet getaways and wine weekends for 2017!

From major events such as Margaret River's Gourmet Getaway, to iconic events such as the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival which is this year celebrating 25 years to regional events such as Felton Food Festival each showcases the best local growers, artisans and wine makers the region has to offer.

With so many to choose from, we bring you the alluxia guide to Australia's Best Food & Wine Festivals in 2017:

January

14/1 Harvest Festival McLaren Vale (1 day) McLaren Vale, SA
15/1 So Frenchy So Chic (1 day) Melbourne, VIC
27/1 Crush Festival (3 days) Adelaide Hills, SA

February
10/2 Festivale 2017 (3 days) Launceston, TAS
18/2 Apollo Bay Seafood Festival (2 days) Great Ocean Road, VIC
24/2 Cellar Door Fest (3 days) Adelaide, SA

March
9/3 Taste of Sydney (4 days) Sydney, NSW
11/3 Taste of Rutherglen (2 days) High Country, VIC
12/3 Peninsula Piers & Pinots (1 day) Mornington Peninsula, VIC
26/3 Felton Food Festival (1 day) Southern QLD Country, QLD
31/3 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (10 days) Melbourne, VIC
31/3 Orange F.O.O.D Week (10 days) Country NSW, NSW 

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April
7/4 A Little Bit of Italy in Broke (3 days) Hunter Valley, NSW
19/4 Barossa Vintage Festival (5 days) Barossa Valley, SA
30/4 Tasting Australia (8 days) Adelaide, SA

May
1/5 Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival (60 days) Hunter Valley, NSW
6/5 Grampians Grape Escape (2 days) Grampians, VIC
13/5 Grazing the Granite Belt (1 day) Southern Qld Country, QLD
19/5 Noosa Food & Wine (4 days) Sunshine Coast, QLD
19/5 Clare Gourmet Weekend (4 days) Clare Valley, SA
20/5 Lovedale Long Lunch (2 days) Hunter Valley, NSW
26/5 Carnivale (3 days) Tropical Nth Qld, QLD

June
1/6 Truffle Festival (90 days) Canberra, ACT
3/6 Relish Fraser Coast (1 day) Fraser Coast, QLD
9/6 Sea & Vines Festival (4 days) Fleurieu Peninsula, SA
10/6 Winter Wine Weekend (3 days) Mornington Peninsula, VIC
10/6 Rutherglen Winery Walkabout (2 days) High Country, VIC
16/6 #DMP Harvest (9 days) Daylesford, VIC
25/6 Italian Wine & Food Festival (1 day) Melbourne

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July

14/7 Taste the Tweed (10 days) North Coast, NSW
15/7 Regional Flavours (2 days) Brisbane, QLD
21/7 Winter Reds Weekend (TBA 3 days) Adelaide Hills, SA

August
27/8 Italian Wine & Food Festival (1 day) Sydney, NSW

September
2/9 Sample Food Festival Bangalow (1 day) North Coast, NSW
2/9 Barossa Gourmet Weekend (3 days) Barossa Valley, SA
9/9 Mudgee Wine & Food Festival (20 days) Country NSW, NSW 

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October
7/10 Bendigo Wealth Uncorked (3 days TBA) Goldfields, VIC
13/10 Orange Wine Festival (10 days) Country NSW, NSW

November
TBA Toast to the Coast (2 days) Geelong, VIC
9/11 Taste of Melbourne (4 days) Melbourne, VIC
17/11 Margaret River Gourmet Escape (3 days) Margaret River, WA
TBA Rootstock (2 days) Sydney, NSW

December
26/12 The Taste of Tasmania (7 days) Hobart, TAS

Any favourites we've missed? Let us know below.

To book accommodation in these regions just search the state and region from the home page or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for recommendations. We'll also be organising alluxia travel events for Noosa Food & Wine and Tasting Australia - register your interest now.

Image credit: Noosa Food & Wine, Barossa Vintage Festival, Winter Reds, Taste of Melbourne
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29
Jan
0

Mirage Whitsundays Review – Barefoot Luxury

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Airlie Beach is emerging as a luxury getaway, that won't break the bank and an alluring change from well-trodden destinations such as Noosa and Byron Bay.

Once considered the exclusive domain of backpackers, Airlie Beach is all grown up, with plenty of brand spanking new hotels, restaurants & experiences bringing some style to Airlie, making it an appealing luxury getaway to rival the Whitsunday islands.

Firstly, Airlie Beach is so accessible, just a 90-minute flight from Brisbane. Secondly, it's the perfect base to explore all the Whitsundays has to offer. Unlike the islands, all the major attractions depart from Airlie Beach, so you have your pick of activities to suit your style and budget from high octane adventure, exploring rainforests via Segway to the barefoot luxury of sailing away toward Whitehaven Beach, the choice is yours!

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Luxury is no longer defined by formality, plush fabrics and gold taps; the new luxury is much more about experience and inspiring destinations. 'Barefoot luxury' is a term that conjures up white sandy beaches, turquoise seas, tropical weather, beautiful natural surroundings and essentially getting away from it all. Barefoot luxury is also the luxury of informality, no schedules, no deadlines the feeling of freedom and simplicity without sacrificing comfort. Bliss.

Barefoot luxury is exactly what you'll find onboard Lady Enid. Lady Enid recreates the classic age of yachting on this elegant timber 74ft Ketch. Included in your dreamy day trip is a pick up from your accommodation, morning tea, gourmet lunch as you glide through the Whitsundays with a stop at Whitehaven Beach and wine and cheese as you sail back at sunset. It's a magical experience and ideal for the more discerning traveller.

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Back at Port of Airlie the crew transfer you back to your accommodation and we're here to check out Mirage Whitsundays. Mirage Whitsundays is an absolutely stunning resort overlooking the Coral Sea. It's a sprawling development, opening in stages with a range of spacious 1,2 and 3 bedroom villas available, some with private plunge pools and an extraordinary 4 bedroom Penthouse with its own private lap pool. The resort boasts two pools and is soon to open an onsite fine dining restaurant, day spa and gym to complete the luxe look.

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We're in a ground floor apartment, which allows us to wander barefoot straight from the villa to the nearest pool and enjoy an invigorating dip without being disturbed by other guests. The apartments are big, I mean really big averaging from 170-250sqm for the apartments up to 430sqm in the deluxe villas. The styling is cool and contemporary with spacious open plan living and dining opening up to a large private balcony. The Master ensuite boasts a luxurious bathroom with oversize shower and deep soaking bath. There's free wifi and Foxtel to keep you entertained; I may never leave...

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Depending on your location, expect lush garden views or panoramic ocean views from your luxury villa. The modern, fully equipped kitchen is a pleasure to cook in and while there is no coffee machine, you can get your caffeine fix at nearby café Fat Frog, which serves Campos Coffee.

Airlie's coming of age in the culinary stakes too. Enter Walter's Lounge, which opened onto the Airlie Beach dining scene a little over 18 months ago primarily as a cocktail bar but has garnered a legion of fans with its inventive cuisine and top notch service. Recently awarded a chef's hat by the Australian Good Food Guide, take the decision making away and opt for the 5 course-tasting menu ($50) with matched wines (add $35) for unbeatable value and quality.

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With flights to Whitsunday Coast Airport starting from just $55 each way, luxurious accommodation at Mirage Whitsundays and sailing the Whitsundays on Lady Enid a barefoot luxury getaway to Airlie Beach is within easy reach.

Mirage Whitsundays
11 Altmann Avenue, Cannonvale QLD
Book Mirage Whitsundays here.

The writer was a guest of Mirage Whitsundays and Lady Enid.
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22
Jan
0

Rhapsody Resort Surfers Paradise Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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The spotlight is firmly on the Gold Coast in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games, with new development and infrastructure projects improving the look and feel of the GC for visitors. One such new development is the brand new Rhapsody Resort at the northern end of Surfers Paradise.

Rhapsody Resort opened in early 2016 offering a step up in quality and style from traditional apartment hotels found on the Gold Coast. In the first instance, the check-in process is efficient and professional and we're greeted by a team of young enthusiastic staff kitted out in smart blue check uniforms, providing a welcoming arrival and full of helpful local knowledge.

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Whizzing up to our room on the 24th floor reveals a stylish room with the Gold Coast stretching out in front of us in all its gold and aqua beauty.

The décor isn't Gold Coast kitsch, but modern contemporary city sleek, with plush carpet, geometric print rugs and sophisticated abstract prints adorning the walls. Our apartment is a One Bedroom Ocean View and is certainly spacious enough to settle in for a weeklong holiday extravaganza on the Gold Coast.

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The kitchen is fully equipped so you can enjoy a longer stay with gas stovetop, oven, microwave, dishwasher but no coffee machine or minibar, so it's definitely a self-catering arrangement. In-room laundry facilities are handy if you're here for a longer stay too. The open plan, living and dining is stylish and comfortable and the bedroom even has a little study nook. Free wifi is a welcome bonus, with the ability to connect multiple devices, ideal for the social media junkie!

Head across the road and you'll find the Chapter & Verse Bar on the ground floor of the Marriott (pictured below) a pleasant spot for cocktails overlooking the pool and tropical surrounds. Using Rhapsody Resort as your base at the quieter end of Surfers Paradise, you can utilise the new G:link Gold Coast Light Rail to traverse the coast. A dose of retail therapy at the newly renovated Pacific Fair is essential while visiting the GC or you can zip down to other restaurants along the route for some variety during your stay.

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Rhapsody Resort enjoys uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean and the views are certainly dazzling from our room, with the sun streaming through from the floor to ceiling windows or step out onto the balcony and feel the sea breeze. Just heaven.

If you book a room without ocean views, you won't be disappointed as guests can enjoy the guest lounge and outdoor area on level 27 as well as the rooftop. The pool is on the ground floor and while compact, looks fun for kids to splash about.

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The rooftop on level 41 offers incredible views up and down the coast and is for the exclusive use of guests to relax and enjoy the private terrace in solitude. Even the gym affords spectacular views if you're that way inclined!

There's truly nothing better than falling asleep to sound of the ocean, making for a restful sleep in the comfortable cloud like beds. It's Queensland, so with no daylight saving, I'm up early for a stroll along the beach and watch the sun rise over the ocean for an invigorating way to start the day.

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In search of a good coffee, I head to a hidden gem recommended to me by local Gold Coast travel blogger Annette from World Travel Tribe with the intriguing and quirky name Bumbles Café. It's off the main drag, and peacefully opposite Budds Beach. It's the kind of place you'd love to be your local, to leisurely sit with a coffee and devour the morning papers. With super cute eclectic interiors, there's plenty of space in the converted house with a series of rooms including the gorgeous 'blue room' (pictured below) as well as abundant outdoor dining on the pavement to choose from. I definitely long to return and linger longer.

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The one bedroom apartment at Rhapsody Resort is perfect for solo travellers or couples and there are also studio apartments ideal for short stays or two bedroom apartments for families. Unlike most Gold Coast apartments a daily mini clean is included in your stay, just to keep things all nice and tidy while you're relaxing at the beach.

Rhapsody Resort is a welcome addition to the Gold Coast accommodation scene and a great choice for those looking for a stylish stay on the glitter strip.

Rhapsody Resort
3440 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise
Book at Rhapsody Resort here.

The writer was a guest of Rhapsody Resort. Image credit: IG @alluxia
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17
Jan
0

Bells at Killcare - A New Era

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Hot on the announcement Bells at Killcare was awarded 'Best Gourmet Getaway' by alluxia, comes the news that Stefano Manfredi has parted ways with Bells at Killcare after an amazing nine years together.

We dined at Manfredi at Bells on Christmas Eve and there was no hint of change, with food, service and ambience all on point. Manfredi's last official day was 31 December 2016, however we're expecting the high quality and standards to continue with the new brigade.

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Executive Chef Dean Jones, who has worked alongside Manfredi for several years, will continue with the core Manfredi values of simplicity, elegance and sustainability, however intends to elevate the Italian dining experience.

While assuming the mantle of Executive Chef, Jones will share the title of Head Chef with Jose Saulog (ex-Glass Brasserie and Tetsuya's). We're also excited to hear that Bells at Killcare owners Karina and Brian Barry are planning to re-energise the restaurant in the first of a number of upgrades and expansions planned for this iconic retreat.

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Bells at Killcare Restaurant & Bar with its coastal setting and extensive on-site produce gardens and orchards will continue to deliver the freshest seasonal produce to the plate with a renewed focus on seafood. Jones' favourite ingredient at the moment is bottarga (salt-cured mullet roe). A dish of sea urchin, butter, spaghetti and bottarga has already made its way to the menu in recent weeks (pictured above).

The menu will offer a timeless taste of Italy – both traditional and contemporary. There'll be the classics plus daily specials showcasing innovation and modern sensibilities but with a strong Italian emphasis.

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The atmosphere at Bells at Killcare Restaurant & Bar will be unmistakably one of relaxed sophistication. The restaurant's polish will underscore the impressive level of style and laidback luxury you've come to expect of Bells. It's a new era at Bells at Killcare and we're excited to follow the journey – book us back in!

Book Bells at Killcare online with alluxia here, with instant confirmation and no booking fees.

Are you planning a stay at Bells at Killcare this year?

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Jan
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Starhaven Retreat Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Ever wish you had friends with a stylish beach house overlooking the ocean, just moments to wineries and restaurants? Well now you do...

Arriving at Starhaven Retreat on the Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula, you're warmly welcomed by hosts Ian and Rob and into a haven that's like no other bed & breakfast you're likely to experience.

Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, but feeling a million miles away; Starhaven Retreat looms large in the residential street opposite Half Moon Bay. Grand is the right word for it and it's not surprising to learn the house was featured on Season One of Grand Designs Australia. The impressive architectural elements and design make the most of the seaside location.

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There are 5 rooms at Starhaven Retreat including the indulgent Haven Suite, which boasts a private spa with infinity bath, two person steam shower, private lounge with fireplace and balcony, ideal for a romantic getaway or special occasion. All rooms are incredibly private, with your own secure coded entry and the retreat is adults only, so you won't be disturbed by little ones.

I'm booked into a Star Suite a spacious room with king bed, free wifi, 3D LED flatscreen TV, on demand movies via Apple TV, sitting area and private balcony. The modern, private en-suite is also stocked with L'Occitane amenities and there are fluffy bathrobes to relax in during your stay. The room also features a walk-in-wardrobe, mini-bar fridge, tea & coffee making facilities and complimentary bottled water. The beds are exceptionally good quality; it was like sleeping on a cloud. I may never leave...

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Breakfast is the main event, a chance to connect with fellow travellers and chat with your hosts over a scrumptious meal. There's a continental breakfast buffet, displaying a selection of fruits, cereals to choose from and hot breakfast cooked to order. With all the special touches, it's clear to see Ian and Rob's extensive hospitality experience shine through.

Lazily lift access takes you between the three floors of Starhaven Retreat and this B&B offers the lot! On the lower level you'll find a jet stream swim spa and sauna, bar lounge adjacent to a "Gold Class" style 15-seat cinema with starlit ceiling and a wide range of movies to choose from. I opt for a glass of local wine and settle in for a chat with my amiable hosts as they share local tips and recommendations about the region.

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The Bellarine Peninsula boasts a spectacular coastline and some award-winning wineries making it the perfect destination for a mini-break. Just 10 minutes drive from Starhaven Retreat you'll find Jack Rabbit Vineyard, Terindah Estate and Bellarine Estate. Jack Rabbit Vineyard is a must visit destination on the Bellarine with unrivalled views across the bay to Geelong. In addition to cellar door wine tasting, there is a café, restaurant and gourmet gift store.

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A further 20 minutes and you'll arrive at Geelong, a city with soul and character. My favourite discovery was Little Malop St, a cool laneway filled with boutiques, cafes and hipster hangouts. Not to be missed is a visit to Geelong Cellar Door, a small wine bar specialising in local wines and charcuterie boards to die for! Set in a beautifully restored corner building it feels like New York meets Paris with soaring high ceilings, bentwood chairs, leather Chesterfield couches to sink into and a wall of wine. Friendly and knowledgeable staff can guide you through the vast selection and takeaway sales are available too.

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Continue your exploration by picking up a copy of the Bellarine Taste Trail, a guide to over 40 unique food and wine destinations including farmgate producers, provedores, boutique wineries, beer and ciders and award-winning cafes and restaurants.

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Back at Starhaven, the retreat has plenty of quiet sitting areas to curl up with a good book as well as a billiard table if you're feeling more competitive. A stay at Starhaven Retreat is full of charm and style with plenty on offer in the region to discover and explore. We're definitely planning a return visit to visit our friends and their fabulous beach house.

Starhaven Retreat
13 Calimo Place, Indented Head, Bellarine Peninsula VIC 3223
Book at Starhaven Retreat here.

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The writer was a guest of Starhaven Retreat.
Image credit: Starhaven, IG @alluxia
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Jan
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Weekend Drinks: Frosé

Posted on in Travel Tips

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It's the hottest cocktail right now – Frosé! We're not sure what the French would say about turning their precious Rosé into a slushie, but in the heat of Australian summer, it sounds like a delightful idea!

By simply using a blender and combining rosé with fruit, sugar and ice you have yourself a frozen cocktail that's fast becoming the symbol of summer.

Frosé (Frozen Rosé)

Choose a full-flavored, full-bodied, dark-coloured rosé for freezing. It will lose some of its colour and will be a bit diluted after freezing and blending; you want something that can hold its own.

Ingredients
MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

1 x 750 ml bottle hearty, bold rosé (such as a Pinot Noir or Merlot rosé)
½ cup sugar
250g strawberries, hulled, quartered
75ml fresh lemon juice

Preparation
Pour rosé into a 13x9" pan and freeze until almost solid (it won't completely solidify due to the alcohol), at least 6 hours.

Meanwhile, bring sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add strawberries, remove from heat, and let sit 30 minutes to infuse syrup with strawberry flavour. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl (do not press on solids); cover and chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Scrape rosé into a blender. Add lemon juice, 100ml strawberry syrup, and 1 cup crushed ice and purée until smooth. Transfer blender jar to freezer and freeze until frosé is thickened (aim for milkshake consistency), 25–35 minutes.

Blend again until frosé is slushy. Divide among glasses.

Do Ahead: Rosé can be frozen 1 week ahead.

Source: bonappetit Image credit: IG@Ironchefshellie
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10
Jan
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What’s New on Alluxia – Summer 2017

Posted on in Travel Tips

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

As we kick off the New Year, it's time to reflect on all our new and noteworthy additions that our team have been busily curating for you. From luxury beach houses in Byron Bay to the secluded hideaways in the Dandenong Ranges we've found plenty of unique stays to surprise and delight even the most discerning of travellers.

Explore the collection in full confidence that alluxia independently verifies the properties listed for their quality and inspect the properties to ensure our handpicked collection is the best of the best in each region of Australia for you.

Here's our latest finds:

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Melbourne, VIC
Always exciting and rich in culture and cuisine...
381 Cremorne – new apartment style inner-city hotel close to sporting venues.

Great Ocean Road, VIC
Put GOR on your bucket list and get cruising.
Alkina Lodge – stunning set of secluded luxury lodges (pictured above)

Geelong & Bellarine, VIC
Discover this stunning region a truly wonderful emerging food & wine destination.
Avalon Guesthouse – beautifully appointed holiday house in Geelong.
Starhaven Retreat – a bed and breakfast like no other.

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Yarra Valley & Dandenongs, VIC
In between wine tasting in the Yarra Valley, we found some great accommodation!
The Studio – stylish hideaway with thoughtful touches, you won't want to leave (pictured above).
Allara House – walk to Four Pillars Gin and Healesville High Street.
The Blackwood – stylish studio in Sassafras.
Misty Woods Retreat – hip holiday house in Olinda.

Daylesford, VIC
Take a break and relax in spa country.
Birchgrove in Daylesford – luxury holiday house ideal for group getaways
Saltus Luxury Accommodation – ideal for cosy, romantic getaways.
Blue Cliffs Retreat – relax and unwind at these self-contained villas.
Briars Cottage – comfortable and convenient villas in Hepburn Springs 

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Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay remains a coastal cool favourite with the young and old.
Toraja Luxury – luxury holiday house set in the hills overlooking the ocean (pictured above).
Koko's Beach House – luxury villas close to all the action.
Blue Green House – peaceful holiday house just moments to Newrybar.

Blue Mountains, NSW
A favourite getaway with Sydneysiders.
Lilianfels – this regal boutique hotel excels in style and service.
Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant – ideal for romantic getaways with picture perfect views.

Central Coast, NSW
Just an hour from Sydney, make your weekend escape to the Central Coast.
Avoca Valley B&B – French Provincial style on the Central Coast.
Star of the Sea Resort – spacious, luxurious apartments in the heart of Terrigal.

Canberra, ACT
Head to our nation's capital for arts and culture and world class attractions.
Little National Hotel – try this modern and luxurious boutique hotel.

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Sunshine Coast, QLD
We continue to seek luxury accommodation in the holiday hot spot.
Nairana Rest – beautiful holiday house close to Hastings Street.
The Sun Pad – stunning luxury Sunrise Beach holiday house (pictured above).
The View Beach House – grand holiday house at Castaways Beach, it's pet friendly too.

Brisbane, QLD
New hotels continue to open in this vibrant city.
Menso at South Bank – new apartment style hotel close to South Bank attractions.

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Gladstone region, QLD
Alinghi Beach House – luxurious beach house at Agnes Water (pictured above).

Whitsundays, QLD
Make your tropical escape to the Whitsundays in 2017!
Pepperberry House – Luxury holiday house ideal for group getaways.
One Oceanview – a unique boutique hotel with spectacular views.

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Adelaide Hills, SA
Head for the hills for spectacular scenery and fine wines.
5 Rooms at The Stirling – Fabulous boutique hotel above a country pub (pictured above).

Fleurieu Peninsula, SA
Where the sea meets the vines.
Sellicks Chills – Escape to luxury in a self-contained villa surrounded by vines.

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Perth, WA
Head west to this vibrant city!
COMO The Treasury – one of the most exciting new boutique hotels to emerge in Australia (pictured above).

Freemantle, WA
Visit Freemantle, WA's popular port city rich in arts and culture.
The Lodging – unique and on trend boutique accommodation.

Broome, WA
Escape to Broome, the ultimate beach resort town in Australia's Kimberley region.
Mangrove Hotel – laze poolside with a cocktail, need we say more?

Pack your bags and go! Which hotel or holiday house is going straight on your "must visit" list?

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Jan
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Marina Shores Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Airlie Beach once considered the exclusive domain of backpackers is emerging as a luxury getaway to rival the islands. Airlie is so accessible, with direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane it's the perfect base to explore all the Whitsundays has to offer. Unlike the islands, all the major attractions depart from Airlie Beach, so you have your pick of the adventure activities.

Arriving at our apartment at Marina Shores, I'm overcome by the jaw-dropping views. Panoramic water views dotted with sailing boats on the horizon are mesmerising. Yes, this will do nicely.

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The spacious apartment boasts an upper level sun deck and on the main level open plan lounge, dining and kitchen area opening out to a large tiled private balcony to further enjoy the breathtaking Whitsunday views. The private balcony is the ideal spot for sunset drinks, just be careful of the cheeky cockatoos that are rather keen to join you!

Our two bedroom apartment is well equipped for an extended stay with full kitchen, including oven, microwave and Nespresso machine, so you can easily settle in lazily for days. Unlike many serviced apartments, Marina Shores takes it up a notch providing guests with a small minibar of essentials at very reasonable prices.

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Marina Shores has a range of room types to suit any group size from one to four bedrooms with a choice of an ocean, marina or garden view. There's an onsite pool surrounded by lush gardens and free undercover parking. It's within walking distance of restaurants at Abell Point Marina or great local hidden gem Fat Frog Café.

The service at Marina Shores is friendly and welcoming with Manager Rowena offering local knowledge, recommendations and able to book tours & attractions for you. Marina Shores embraces technology with great features such as SMS confirmations and updates on arrival including sending your free WiFi passwords.

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Airlie's coming of age in the culinary stakes too. Enter Walter's Lounge, which opened onto the Airlie Beach dining scene a little over 18 months ago primarily as a cocktail bar but has garnered a legion of fans with its inventive cuisine and top notch service. Owner Heath is also the resident bartender so I'm surprised there isn't an extensive cocktail menu, instead there is a list of specials scrawled on the wall, which changes regularly and I suspect he could shake & stir anything you wished to request. For a special occasion we recommend you indulge in Walter's Lounge's shared tasting menu with matched wines for just $85 per person. The food is incredible and Walter's Lounge has recently been recognised with an AGFG Chef's Hat.

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If you're planning a tropical escape this year, head to the Whitsundays for endless blue skies, sunshine and adventure. Marina Shores is a great base to explore all that this magical region has to offer.

At Marina Shores
159 Shingley Drive, Airlie Beach Whitsundays QLD 4802
Book at Marina Shores here.

The writer was a guest of Marina Shores. 
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05
Jan
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Insiders Guide: Discover Brisbane with The Urban List Founder

Posted on in A List: Insiders Guide

You all know The Urban List, the curated guide to your life in the city; trusted recommendations of where to eat, drink, shop & more. A Brisbane success story, The Urban List started in 2011 and has since expanded to include Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Auckland. We asked founder, Susannah George her favourite tips for exploring Brisbane... b2ap3_thumbnail_susannah-collage.jpg

alluxia: What do you love most about living in Brisbane?

Susannah: Our home! And the fact that our families are less than 10 minutes away. We had a little boy this year and New Farm has been wonderful to us! River walks, park hangs and great coffee all at our finger tips. (The coffee part has been particularly necessary!)

The restaurant that best shows off your city...

Bar Alto – consistently excellent, fresh Italian and warm, welcoming service. Sitting outside on the deck, overlooking the river is my favourite way to spend a Sunday.

When friends are in town I take them for a drink at...

Gerard's Bar

Couples wanting a romantic dinner for two should consider...

Urbane – a Brisbane institution that just gets better every year!

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The best breakfast spot is...

Kin & Co on Macquarie Street, Newstead – everything is presented so beautifully, and it's run by a family which brings a really authentic dynamic to everything they do.

The best coffee can be found at...

Jamie's Espresso on Robertson.

For the perfect gift or momento, I'd recommend shopping at...

camargue on James Street (for the girls) and Jocelyn's Provisions (for edible treats for everyone).

The best markets can be explored at...

The Powerhouse every Saturday morning – don't miss the Portuguese custard tarts!

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For great art and culture...

IMA below the Judith Wright Centre for rising contemporary art stars, Milani Gallery in Woolloongabba for curated showings of Australia's top political artists, and GOMA for the big hitters. If you can get tickets to the Queensland Ballet, do! They're incredible!

The best free activity in the city is...

Hiking the fire trails up Mt Coot-tha or heading to Noosa for a walk through the National Park to Hell's Gates.

If it's raining...

Work your way through the galleries above, along with Edwina Corlette, Phillip Bacon and Jan Murphy – all on Brunswick Street.

What's the "Must See" attraction in Brisbane...

The river – walking the loop from New Farm, around the city, across to South Bank and under the Kangaroo Point cliffs is one of my favourite things to do. (And of course, after 8kms you're entitled to feast.)

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Brisbane's best kept secret...

I don't know if it's a secret, but for unbelievable Chinese tucked away in the suburbs, head to Sichuan Bang Bang.

Your favourite weekend getaway?

The Southern Beaches of the GC so my wife can surf and I can walk for kilometres along the sand (now, with Baby Bjorn!)

Inspired to explore Brisbane? Browse our collection of Brisbane accommodation and book a getaway to this thriving city, rich in culture, food and natural beauty.

Where are your favourite places to eat, drink, stay & see in Brisbane?

Image credit: Alto, Kin+Co, SBB

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Dec
0

Alluxia’s Top 5 Summer Holiday Reads

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10

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The best way to enjoy the magical time between Christmas and New Year is to lose yourself in a good book and let time stand still. With a long hot summer ahead, pack these books and enjoy the summer holidays and let the world around you slow down and take a breath.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihar
A Little Life by American novelist Hanya Yanagihar is by no means a light summer read, but at over 700 pages, it's a good chance to fall into this epic novel uninterrupted. A Little Life follows the lives of four University classmates, Jude, Willem, Malcolm and JB across decades, slowly revealing history and secrets. Despite difficult content at times, A Little Life is a memorable and heartbreaking story beautifully written.

Goodwood – Holly Throsby
Loved this debut novel by Australian musician and songwriter, Holly Throsby. Set in the small town of Goodwood, the book is filled with beautifully painted characters. The story is told by Jean, who is on the verge of adulthood and finding her true self and revolves around the disappearance of two people from the quiet rural town. What resonated most wasn't the story itself, but how Holly Throsby told the story, with humour, beautiful descriptions and great characters.

The Dry – Jane Harper
This highly acclaimed book is still on our summer reading list, a crime novel that shines a light on the darkest corner of our sunburnt country. Another stunning debut novel by an Australian writer, thumbs up for Australian fiction!

The Best of Adam Sharp – Graeme Simsion
We loved 'The Rosie Project' series and were keen to read Graeme Simison's latest novel. It's a departure from the Rosie novels with 'The Best of Adam Sharp' exploring the themes of love, music and coming to terms with the past, although still told from a male perspective. There's a playlist at the back of the book if you'd like a soundtrack to your summer reads.

Paris is always a Good Idea – Nicolas Barreau
A light summer read, where you can escape to the beauty and romance of Paris. 'Paris is always a good idea' follows Rosalie Laurent, the proud owner of Luna Luna, a little post-card shop in St. Germain. Her specialty is hand painted 'wishing cards', which draws the attention of a successful children's book author Max Marchais who asks her to illustrate his next book. It's so easy to daydream and fall in love with the characters and beauty of Parisian life in 'Paris is always a good idea'.

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You can read more of our holiday reading recommendations here and here and follow on Instagram with hashtag #alluxiareads.

What are you reading this summer?

Image: Pinterest, IG @alluxia

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Dec
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Alluxia’s 2016 Awards

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10

The Alluxia Awards are a chance to shine a spotlight on some of the most incredible escapes and celebrate the unique, special and most stylish places to stay in Australia.

We've personally inspected hundreds of holiday houses and boutique hotels this year, verifying for quality to ensure the alluxia collection includes Australia's best.

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Best Regional Getaway:
Winner: Yarra Valley - Wingspread
Yarra Valley is such a winner of a destination, just one hour from Melbourne you can be immersed in wine country enjoying cellar door experiences, incredible dining and picturesque surrounds. We loved staying at Wingspread earlier this year, a brilliant two bedroom cottage, perfect in summer or winter with charming hosts and plenty of quality inclusions it's a great base to explore the Yarra Valley region.
Runner Up: Berry – Mount Hay Retreat
Browse our handpicked collection of rural retreats and plan your regional getaway.

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Best City Break:
Winner: Ovolo Woolloomooloo
This boutique hotel in Sydney continues to impress us every time we stay. Sure it has a funky fit out, generously includes the minibar and a host of extras but the real winner is the service. Exceptional staff make for a truly memorable stay at Ovolo Woolloomooloo.
Runner Up: The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites
Browse our handpicked collection of city breaks.

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Best Coastal Cool Getaway:
Winner: Bujerum Apartments, Burleigh Heads
Holidaying in Burleigh offers the quintessential Aussie beach holiday experience. Burleigh is so hot right now with great restaurants, cafes and boutiques springing up, yet retaining an endless summer vibe. Bujerum Apartments offer breezy coastal cool style right opposite the beach.
Runner Up: at Marina Shores Airlie Beach
Browse our collection of coastal getaways and make your escape to luxury.

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Best Winter Getaway:
Winner: Twilight Cottage, Dandenong Ranges
Twilight Cottage ticks all the boxes for a cosy winter getaway. Real wood burning fireplace, cosy cottage with comfortable and stylish décor, spa bath, gourmet breakfast hamper, homemade goodies and even gourmet frozen meals if you can't tear yourself away. What more could you want?
Runner Up: Glass on Glasshouse, Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Browse our collection of winter getaways.

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Best Romantic Getaway:
Winner: Pumphouse Point, Lake St Clair
This unique boutique hotel needs to be top of your bucket list for next year! The location is awe-inspiring, the rooms magnificent, the scenery breathtaking – just go.
Runner Up: Rocky Hills Retreat
Browse our full collection of romantic getaways and escape to luxury.

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Best Girls' Getaway:
Winner: Newrybar Downs, Byron Bay
This hidden gem in the Byron Bay hinterland has room for everyone. Lounge by the pool by day and cook up a feast in the designer kitchen by night for a memorable and luxurious girl's getaway.
Runner Up: Noosa Residences, Sunshine Coast
Browse our full collection of girls' getaways and gather your friends!

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Best Luxe for Less Escape:
Winner: 57 Hotel, Sydney
Sydney accommodation for under $200 can still be found at 57 Hotel Sydney. Sure the rooms may be compact, but you have the whole, amazing city out there to explore! Great rates don't end there; your rate includes free WiFi, express breakfast and free local phone calls.
Runner Up: Ridgemill Escape Stanthorpe
Browse our luxe for less collection and save.

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Best Newcomer:
Winner: Elements of Byron
Elements of Byron have made an impressive splash onto the Australia hotel scene, already becoming a firm favourite with alluxia guests. Luxurious villas, morning yoga, complimentary breakfast and that incredible pool with overhanging swing chairs make it the perfect choice for a beach getaway. The good news is the resort will launch more luxurious villas in 2017, watch this space!
Runner Up: Heart Hotel & Gallery, Whitsundays

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Best Gourmet Getaway:
Winner: Bells at Killcare, Central Coast
There is some stiff competition in this category, with many of our favourite boutique hotels and retreats offering some impressive destination restaurants. However, the gong goes to Bells at Killcare with their destination restaurant for consistently offering a high quality dining experience with a contemporary coastal setting.
Runner Up: Spicers Peak Lodge, Scenic Rim

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Best Wine Weekend
Winner: Polperro Villas, Mornington Peninsula
There's nothing better than staying at a vineyard, surrounded by rolling hills of vines and strolling back from the restaurant to your luxurious villa for a nightcap.
Runner Up: Sellicks Chills, Fleurieu Peninsula
Browse our collection of holiday houses and hotels that are perfect for a wine weekend.

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Best Pet Friendly Accommodation:
Winner: Alure Stanthorpe, Granite Belt
Alure Stanthorpe aren't just pet friendly; they go the extra mile to spoil your pampered pooch. For an additional $50 per pet they'll receive their own bathrobe, plush cocoon bed, food and water bowls, gift bag of toiletries and gourmet treats and a list of pet-friendly attractions and activities.
Runner Up: Thalia Haven, East Coast
Browse our handpicked collection of Pet-Friendly Accommodation.

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Best Family Fun Holiday:
Winner: Rumba Resort, Caloundra
Caloundra is a great destination for families and Rumba has room for the whole family with spacious apartments and outdoor pools to keep the kids entertained.
Runner Up: A Summer Cottage, Byron Bay
Browse our family friendly accommodation options and book well in advance to secure school holiday accommodation.

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Best Spa Getaway:
Winner: Gaia Retreat & Spa
Rejuvenate mind, body and soul at Gaia Retreat in the Byron Bay Hinterland. The incredible day spa boasts 14 treatment rooms with over 35 expert healers and therapists you'll feel Zen in no time.
Runner Up: Saltus Luxury Retreat, Hepburn Springs

Do you agree? Has your favourite getaway made the list? We'd love to hear from you!

You Might Also Like: Best of Travel 2015

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Alluxia visits and inspects properties throughout the year and in some cases are hosted by the operator. Awards have been independently determined by alluxia based on stays, site inspections and experience in 2016.

 

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Dec
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Top 10 for 2016

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10

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How is it Christmas already? Where did 2016 go, but aren't we quietly happy that it's going! Do you feel that way too?

What a year it's been. This year, alluxia celebrated 4 years of delivering luxury holidays and inspiration to style conscious travellers. This year 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 travellers.

We celebrated our birthday with a brilliant prize thanks to Elements of Byron and David Lawrence. This kickstarted a fabulous partnership with David Lawrence, which will continue into 2017...watch this space! This partnership culminated in a photo shoot with the stunning Ovolo Woolloomooloo as the backdrop. Way out of my comfort zone, but such a fun experience!

Thanks for following and engaging on social media – we love it! We started the hashtag #luxuryfound so that our followers can share their travel inspiration, follow along!

In September, we attended Luxperience, our annual pilgrimage to discover what's and what's hot in luxury and experiential travel. We also attended Problogger, networking with inspiring bloggers and hearing the latest in technology, influencer marketing and social.

We hosted some great bloggers at our handpicked luxury properties including BabyMac at Long Weekend Retreat, Little Miss Melbourne at Alex Perry Hotel & Apartments, Sarah Wilson at Bells at Killcare to name a few.

To wrap up 2016, here is the Top 10 most popular stories:

10. Adelaide Hills Winter Reds Weekend

9. Berry Travel Guide

8. Review Wingspread Yarra Valley

7. Alluxia's Best of 2015

6. Insiders Guide to Sydney with Olivia Ruello

5. Reef House Palm Cove Review

4. Insiders Guide to Brisbane with the Concierge Collective

3. Gwinganna vs Gaia

2. Open that Bottle Night

1. Hot New Hotel Openings in 2016

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Insiders Guide: Southern Highlands with BabyMac

Posted on in A List: Insiders Guide

We take 5 with the wonderful and hilarious Beth Macdonald aka BabyMac. Beth's popular blog is all about motherhood, living in the Southern Highlands and ending the week with Prosecco! Here's Beth's local guide to the Southern Highlands...

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alluxia: What do you love most about living in the Southern Highlands?

Beth: So much! The gorgeous climate which brings actual seasons filled with beautiful cold climate garden and flowers. The picturesque landscape filled with wonderful produce and rich farmland and of course the amazing shopping and food. I can't name just one!

The restaurant that best shows off your region...

Bistro Officina is doing some amazing stuff with local produce, as does Biota.

When friends are in town I take them for a drink at...

The Burrawang Hotel of course!

Couples wanting a romantic dinner for two should consider...

Having kids we don't get out for dinner much but fireside for a long lunch at Bendooley Estate doesn't get much better!

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The best breakfast spot is...

Ludo in Bowral.

The best coffee can be found at...

Burrawang General Store or Highlands Merchant...Allpress of course!

The best place to dine with kids is...

Bernie's Diner in Moss Vale – never disappoints big or little ones!

For the perfect gift or momento, I'd recommend shopping at...

Made by Others Moss Vale – Anna and Ursula have such a great collection always in their gorgeous store.

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The best markets can be explored at...

Moss Vale Farmers Markets Railway Street Thursdays 11am-2pm

For great art and culture...

Sculpture at Hillview annually or any of the great events held at Wombat Hollow in Kangaloon.

The best free activity in the region is...

A trip to Belmore Falls.

If it's raining...

Find a fireplace and a glass of red and settle in! That or a spot of shopping at Dirty Janes in Bowral.

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What's the "Must See" attraction in the Southern Highlands...

Any of the Tourist Drives are well worth a look – so pretty! My favourite is the drive through Kangaloon to Robertson.

The Southern Highlands best kept secret...

Too many new places to mention – I LOVE Dirty Janes market though for cheap vintage finds.

Your favourite weekend getaway?

Any time spent away with friends or family – booking a house near the coast is always a treat for us.

Inspired to explore the Southern Highlands? Browse our collection of Southern Highlands accommodation and book a getaway to this picturesque region.

Where are your favourite places to eat, drink, stay & see in the Southern Highlands?

 
Image credit: BabyMac, Highlands Merchant, Bendooley Estate, Made by Others, Alluxia 

 

 

 

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Dec
1

Australia’s Best Beach?

Posted on in Roundup: Top 5, Top 10

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Cossies Beach has been named Australia's best beach by Tourism Australia's Aquatic and Coastal Ambassador and 'beach expert' Brad Farmer for the 2017 list detailing the country's most stunning beaches.

But where is this perfect piece of paradise I hear you ask? Cossies Beach is located on the Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean and is considered Australia's most remote beach. In fact, prior to Mr Farmer's visit, the beach did not even have a name and was simply referred to as Direction Island, or DI by locals. Accessible via a 4 ½ hour flight from Perth and technically considered an international flight, Cossies Beach is closer to Jakarta than Perth, making the logistics of your escape to paradise extremely challenging, but perhaps that's why it's so coveted.

While we don't know what you have to do to become a 'beach expert' we'd certainly love the job! Although the team of Mr Farmer and his colleague Professor Andy Short spent the past five months compiling Australia's Best Beaches 2017, applying a raft of independent and scientific criteria before crowning Cossies "as near perfect as a beach can be."

Australia has 11,761 beaches along nearly 60,000km of coastline and with over 90% of us living on Australia's coastline, our beaches are an important part of our way of life.

The Top 20 Australian Beaches 2017:
1. Cossies Beach, Cocos Keeling Island INDIAN OCEAN
2. Nudy Beach, Fitzroy Island QLD
3. Moonee Beach, Coffs Coast NSW
4. Turquoise Bay, Coral Coast WA
5. Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast QLD
6. Maslin Beach, Adelaide SA
7. Dolly Beach, Christmas Island INDIAN OCEAN
8. Shelly Beach, Nambucca Coast NSW
9. Boat Harbour Beach, North West Coast TAS
10. Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road VIC
11. Horseshoe Bay Beach, Capricorn Coast QLD
12. Garie Beach, Sydney NSW
13. Merewether Beach, Newcastle NSW
14. Long Beach, Great Keppel Island QLD
15. Hawks Nest, Myall Coast NSW
16. Camp Cove, Sydney NSW
17. Broken Head Beach, Byron Bay NSW
18. Narrawallee Beach, Shoalhaven NSW
19. Dynamite Bay, Coral Coast WA
20. Ellis Beach, Far North Queensland QLD

Does this list inspire you to travel and visit some more remote locations? Start planning and browse our handpicked collection of coastal cool accommodation here.

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For me, my favourite beach is Shoal Bay in pristine Port Stephens NSW. It's quiet, easily accessible and the gentle waves beckon you in for a dip, also making it safe and great for families. Perhaps part of my love for Shoal Bay comes down to nostalgia, happy memories of annual family holidays spent at the beach, can't you tell from our smiling faces circa 1980! In the background you can just make out the old Shoal Bay Country Club, now transformed and available to book here.

Did your favourite make the cut? Which is your favourite beach in Australia and why?

Photo: Rik Soderlund
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Dec
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Review Twilight Cottage Dandenong Ranges

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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It's pouring with rain, I've just carefully navigated through a severe weather event from Yarra Valley to the Dandenong Ranges and it's cold & dark. I pull up at my accommodation for the night and it's like a mirage, the most cosy, warm and inviting sight you ever did see with fairytale street appeal.

The charming owner Peta, provides the warmest of welcomes and has already anticipated my arrival with lights blazing and heating the cottage, it's a welcome sight. As I reluctantly ask where I should venture out in the wet to track down some dinner, Peta informs me there are gourmet meals already prepared in the freezer. Best news I've ever heard!

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Thawing out, I take in the magnificent surrounds. Twilight Cottage is impeccably styled, straddling that country charm appeal perfectly without falling into clichéd lacey, doily territory. Instead Peta has styled the cottage with the help of interior designer Justin Bishop in a neutral colour scheme with quality furnishings.

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The cottage makes a romantic escape for two with a sweet little table and chair set in the bay window and comfortable couch in front of the fireplace to complete the cosy lounge room. The compact kitchen has every conceivable inclusion including stove, cooktop, microwave and coffee machine. From the gourmet meal stash I opt for the Angus Beef Stroganoff, which only takes moments to reheat before I'm enjoying hot, gourmet, comfort food. Bliss.

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Down a few stairs is the sunken bedroom with corner spa bath. The skylight above allows you to soak in the spa and gaze at the stars above. Meanwhile, the king size bed is like a cloud, draped in luxurious linen and stuffed with cushions and even an electric blanket to keep you warm during the cooler nights.

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At Twilight Cottage, it's all about the thoughtful touches including turn down chocolates, umbrellas and warm jackets to borrow during your stay, fresh flowers filling the cottage, water jug by the bed and complimentary homemade chocolate brownies to enjoy with a soothing tea. It's these extra touches that make for memorable moments, beyond the first class facilities and inclusions.

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Breakfast is included in your stay and it's a beautifully presented continental hamper prepared by Sassafras Providore including freshly baked bread, cereal, preserves and sufficient for two days of indulgence.

Dandenong Ranges is a sleepy hillside town popular for cosy romantic getaways or getting back to nature. Despite the restful nature of the region, it's pleasing to see some new additions breathing new life into the destination.

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Celebrated chef Shannon Bennett has a rather extraordinary vision to restore an iconic mansion and estate to create a dining destination and boutique hotel in the Dandenong Ranges called Burnham Beeches. Watch this space on the transformation into a luxury retreat, however the first phase to open is the Piggery Café and Bakery. It's bringing a bit of hipster to the hills, serving burgers (pictured above) and baked goods to a hungry audience. Outside a slew of tables look out to lawn bowls, croquet and bocce pitches.

If you do decide to leave the warm haven of Twilight Cottage, try Coonara Springs Restaurant for a special occasion dining experience. Recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment, it ticks all the boxes for a Dandenong Ranges restaurant including open fireplace, gorgeous gardens, restored heritage façade, stunning views and quality cuisine.

Dandenong Ranges is an ideal romantic getaway less than 1 hour from Melbourne and within easy drive to Yarra Valley wine country. Twilight Cottage is a fairytale cottage, thoughtfully appointed to ensure you have a magical stay.

Twilight Cottage
9 Monash Avenue, Olinda
Book Twilight Cottage here.

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Have you been to the Dandenong Ranges recently? What were your favourite things to see and do in the region?

The writer was the guest of Twilight Cottage.
Image credit IG @alluxia
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Nov
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Offline is the new Luxury

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Is there any escape? As a society, we are overly dependent on social connectivity and the lines between work & life become increasingly blurred in the desire for work/life balance. Time spent "offline" is becoming all too scarce. While all this technology is intended to "connect" us, increasingly we're actually becoming disconnected by less personal interactions.

So maybe it's time for a digital detox? Here's our Top 10 picks for a digital detox:

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1. Thalia Haven, East Coast TAS
Turn off your phones and tune in to quality time with your friends, family and loved ones at the spectacular Thalia Haven on Tasmania's East Coast. With no WiFi reception, you'll be blissfully unaware of the Kardashian's latest escapades, as you bliss out in the outdoor bath overlooking the ocean.

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2. Saltus, Hepburn Springs VIC
Our impromptu digital detox at Saltus was the inspiration for this post and you can read about the experience here. With no Wifi, it's the ideal opportunity to switch off, unwind, relax and rejuvenate in spa country at the nearby Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa.

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3. Glass on Glasshouse, Sunshine Coast Hinterland QLD
Surrounded by mountains, so the WiFi tends to be patchy, just kick back and relax and take in the inspiring scenery, go for a bushwalk or just soak in the magnificent freestanding double spa bath. In winter snuggle up by the fireplace and enjoy the romance of fresh mountain air.

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4. Alkina Lodge, Great Ocean Road VIC
Alkina Lodge is the closest luxury accommodation to the 12 Apostles, so make Alkina your base to explore the beautiful natural surrounds of the Great Ocean Road. These architect-designed lodges each sleep 8 guests in style, so gather your friends and organise for the inhouse chef to create a gourmet feast for your group. You won't even miss the outside world.

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5. Long Weekend Retreat, South Coast NSW
Gloriously isolated, accessible via 2km of unsealed road and surrounded by nature, you'll feel like you've truly gotten away from it all at Long Weekend Retreat. In truth, it does offer free WiFi, but with so many local activities such as bushwalking, whale watching, swimming, kayaking and exploring Lake Conjola you'll feel at one with nature.

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6. Alinghi, Agnes Water QLD
Set in a private estate with secure entry and perched overlooking the ocean; spend your days on a private beach, soaking up the sun and sea. This magnificent house has been voted as one of the world's top 5 beach houses by UK Independent and it's not hard to see why. Sure it has free Wifi and a fully equipped study with fax, but show some self restraint and enjoy the stunning surrounds.

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7. Paperbark Camp, South Coast QLD
Get your glamping on at Paperbark Camp on the pristine South Coast. While you're luxury tent is outfitted with everything your heart desires, take a break from digital world and spend your days by the beach and your nights soak in the bath in your Deluxe Safari Tent.

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8. Rocky Hills Retreat, East Coast TAS
This amazingly secluded retreat is perched on the mountaintop, with spectacular bush surrounds and ocean views. Your hilltop haven is so well equipped it even has a complete art studio at your disposal should the artistic mood strike you! Otherwise, just sit back and soak in the outdoor Huon pine bath tub to wash away your stressful day.

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9. The Frames, Riverland SA
Escape 3 hours from Adelaide and arrive at this luxury retreat for a weekend of luxury and indulgence. Resist the free WiFi and enjoy a romantic sunset cruise with Champagne and nibbles in a beautifully restored Gondola. Visit the National Parks or sample Riverland wines from nearby cellar doors.

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10. Gaia Retreat, Byron Bay NSW
At Gaia the idea is to escape the stresses of new millennium living, offering you a haven of peace. While mobile phones are permitted at Gaia, however to respect the tranquillity of other guests you're asked to switch off and not use in any public areas. Located in the hinterland, internet access is limited and you're encouraged to leave work behind and enjoy some well deserved time out. Read about Gaia Retreat review here or join our Gaia Retreat Wellness Weekend in 2017.

Have you had a stressful year? Are you ready for a digital detox? Do you agree Offline is the new luxury?

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Nov
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Adele Australian Tour Dates

Posted on in Travel Tips

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"G'Day, it's me."

UK singing superstar Adele is coming to Australia for the first time ever, announcing her tour via a handwritten note to fans on twitter today.

"G'Day it's me... I was wondering if after 10 years in the game you'd finally like to meet me in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide," Adele tweeted. "Yep! I am coming Down Under."

Adele went on to say she would be playing "in the round", outdoors and in stadiums "to see as many of you (fans) as possible."

Touring in February and March 2017, Adele's Australian Tour kicks off in Perth on 28 February. Tickets go on sale 21 November with staggered release times, as promoters are expecting an onslaught of ticket purchases.

ADELE'S 2017 AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
28 February — Domain Stadium, Perth
4 March — The Gabba, Brisbane
10 March — ANZ Stadium, Sydney
13 March — Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
18 March — Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

Expect these concerts to sell out and city hotels and accommodation to book out fast, so secure your Adele city accommodation now. Here's our handy links to accommodation in each capital city and our hot tip of where to stay close to the venue:

Perth Accommodation – alluxia recommends Alex Hotel Perth
Brisbane Accommodation – alluxia recommends Eastwood Apartments
Sydney Accommodation – alluxia recommends 57 Hotel
Adelaide Accommodation – alluxia recommends The Watson
Melbourne Accommodation – alluxia recommends Adelphi Hotel

Ticket prices vary from city to city but are expected to start at around $100 for D-reserve seats and go up to around $300 for A-reserve seats.

Who's excited? Are you planning on heading to Adele's Australian concert?

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Gold Coast - Australia’s New Fashion Capital

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Not so long ago the Gold Coast was famous for fun, theme parks and family holidays, but the 'Goldie' is all grown up, emerging as Australia's new fashion capital.

With the Gold Coast gearing up for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, domestic and international travellers are in for a treat with upmarket eateries, fine dining restaurants, craft breweries and premium shopping brands opening their doors on the GC.

The city is fast becoming a fashion hub thanks to the $670 million renovations at Pacific Fair. Here you'll find high-end international brands such as Christian Louboutin, Chanel, Prada & Givenchy mixing it with popular chain stores such as H&M, Zara and Sephora. You'll also find Australian designers such as Aje, Sass & Bide and Manning Cartel flexing their fashion muscles.

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It's easy to spend a whole day at Pacific Fair with plenty of dining options to relax and refuel such as Aquitaine, Bin 232 and Comuna Contina. The focal point of the redevelopment is 'The Resort' an open air retail precinct filled with palm trees, water features, cabanas, flamingos – a true sanctuary, there's never been a more relaxing spot for blokes to sit and wait. Ideal for travellers, our tip is to stop by the Visitor Lounge and pick up the latest offers and refresh, as the lounge offers showers, free wifi and luggage minding for guests before flying home.

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Not to be outdone, Robina Town Centre has just unveiled a $160 million urban marketplance called The Kitchens. It's a smorgasbord of fresh-food retailers, cafes and fine dining restaurants including George Colombaris' Greek street food eatery Jimmy Grants, Betty's Burgers and Trent Scarr's Honeyeater Kitchen.

For something more unique, browse the Brickworks, a boutique shopping precinct featuring a carefully curated collection of fashion, homewares and art alongside gourmet food at the Ferry Road Market.

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For those who love the thrill of a bargain, Harbour Town is undergoing a $20 million expansion opening an additional 25 stores in recent months. Keen shoppers will find great savings on brands such as Tigerlily, Universal Store, Coach, Oroton and Lindt. There's even a free shuttle bus departing Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach at set times from Tuesday-Saturday.

If you're looking for a village atmosphere and spot of boutique shopping Burleigh Heads' James Street is a must. We've written about what to see & do in Burleigh here. After a caffeine hit at Canteen Coffee, browse A Little Birdie Told Me for labels such as Stevie May, Acler and Faithful the Brand. Over at the Old Burleigh Theatre Arcade, lovers of bohemian luxe can pick up cult Byron Bay brand Spell, Free People and The Wild Unknown at The Freedom State.

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On the first and third Saturdays of the month check out The Village Market (TVM) in Burleigh Heads, with over 100 stalls showcasing fashion, artisan jewellery, art and collectibles. Proving the Gold Coast has a creative heart in addition to a laid back surf culture.

As Australia's new shopping mecca, the Gold Coast is a great choice for a girls' getaway and a paradise found for the fashionista in us all.

Have you been shopping on the Gold Coast lately? Where's your favourite store?

Browse our Gold Coast Accommodation including new Surfers Paradise hotel Rhapsody Resort or Burleigh Heads favourite Bujerum Apartments.

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Image credit: Pacific Fair, The Kitchens, Brickworks-St Barts, The Village Market
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Nov
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Detox in Hepburn Springs at Saltus

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Most people visit Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges for a weekend of relaxation and rejuvenation. What I didn't count on during my recent weekend in spa country was that it would be more of a detox than I'd expected.

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs is just a short 90 minutes from Melbourne, unless a bout of "Melbourne 2016" hits you. Having never experienced gastroenteritis before, I was in for a world of pain.

Thankfully I was afforded an early check-in at Saltus Luxury Accommodation where I promptly crashed out on the couch. Never have I been so pleased for such comfortable surrounds when feeling so poorly.

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Saltus is situated in Hepburn Springs, the neighbouring village of Daylesford and just moments to Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa. The architect designed villas with a handsome timber façade blend beautifully with the woodland setting and overlooking Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve.

I self-checkin to villa 1 using the easy text message instructions from the owners. I discover a beautiful, light filled, open plan space large enough to move right in. The lounge room has a large modular lounge prominently in front of the fireplace and large screen TV for maximum comfort and with remote control in hand, I'm never leaving.

The full kitchen means you can self cater and enjoy a quiet night in. It's worth picking up some gourmet essentials prior, as breakfast provisions aren't included in your stay, however a bottle of Hepburn Springs Mineral Water and local plunger coffee are left for your enjoyment. There's an elegant dining table as well as outdoor setting if the weather permits alfresco dining.

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Sleeping on the cloud like bed is a pleasure and electric blankets are a novelty for this Queenslander. The luxurious bathroom boasts a mosaic feature wall and a stunning two person freestanding bath with Serendipity amenities. Heated floors, heated towel rails and the sun streaming through the picture window in the morning make for a warming start to the day.

Then the morning took another unexpected turn, my mobile phone suddenly shut down and with no WiFi in the villa (NBN hasn't arrived to Daylesford yet) I'm plunged into a digital detox. I manage through the morning and enjoy the peacefulness of being un-contactable as I browse Vincent Street. Bromley & Co is a treasure trove of art and collectables, G Daylesford has a unique collection of ethical, artisan and bespoke wears and Daylesford Apothecary has plenty of magical and medicinal wares.

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My morning sans smart phone is a reminder how reliant I've become of technology and a good test. Am I ready for a more permanent digital detox? Have you tried a digital detox, a day, even a weekend perhaps? How did you feel?

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Separated from my phone and leaving the world beyond, allows me to explore the region with a new sense of freedom. Checkin at Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa for a day of pampering, browse Daylesford main street for homewares and enjoy a peaceful coffee in one of the charming cafes feels so carefree.

Hepburn Springs is the ideal destination for a detox, whether that's a health detox or a digital detox it's a relaxing location to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul.

Saltus Luxury Accommodation
119 Main Rd, Hepburn Springs VIC 461
Book Saltus Luxury Accommodation here.

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The writer was a guest of Saltus Luxury Accommodation
Image credit: IG @alluxia
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Oct
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Review Sellicks Chills The Treehouse

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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There's something special about a weekend away in wine country staying amongst the vines. Waking at a vineyard retreat makes for a magical start to the day, sun dappled vine leaves, peaceful mornings and that feeling of glorious isolation. Then there's exploring nearby cellar doors during the day and retiring to your accommodation with a glass of wine by the fireplace at night – it's all very convivial!

We're lovers of wine weekends and also beach holidays so imagine our delight when we discovered you could combine the two at Sellicks Chills Vineyard Retreats!

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Located in the Fleurieu Peninsula, just one hour from Adelaide at Sellicks Hill, perfectly positioned just 10 minutes to central McLaren Vale and 2 minutes to the beach lies Sellick's Chills Vineyard Retreats. Perfect in any season, we visited in winter for some red wine and fireplace action!

Sellicks Chills Vineyards Retreats has two villas on the property, set 12m apart. One a low slung traditional cottage and the other, a modern "Treehouse" soaring two-stories high surrounded by vineyards and natural bushland. The owners live on the property across the vines, providing privacy for guests but also reassuringly close if you need assistance.

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Checking in to The Treehouse, you're immediately struck by the scale of the holiday house, which feels exceedingly generous for a couple or solo traveller. Downstairs you'll find the master bedroom with king size bed and picture windows to admire the vineyard views. The windows have no blinds, so note you'll wake up naturally with the morning light. I loved this, but if you prefer a sleep in, opt for the adjacent Chill Inn cottage. There's also a sitting room in the entry area with a day bed that can accommodate an extra guest if required. The furnishings are all light and bright in vibrant blue hues matching perfectly with the artwork by the owner Susie.

Upstairs is the spacious living area with full kitchen, dining area and cosy combustion fire to keep you warm in the winter months. Our generous hosts had left a welcome bottle of Sellicks Chills 2013 Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon made from handpicked grapes from six rows of 60-year-old vines on the estate. The Cab Sav was the perfect drop for fireside drinking with a few Lindt chocolates to seal the deal.

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There are many thoughtful touches throughout the holiday house, especially in the gourmet kitchen. There's freshly baked bread for our arrival to enjoy with a cheese platter in the evening or for breakfast the next day. Freshly laid eggs by chooks on the property and a bowl of lemons and limes from the properties orchard are also part of the welcoming spread. Owner Dean has even left a stash of firewood in a wheelbarrow outside the back door to replenish the fireplace.

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The pantry is stocked with everyday essentials too, plus there's a Nespresso coffee machine to satisfy your morning coffee fix and even cookbooks by Sophie Guidolin, the impressive daughter of owners Dean & Susie, a fitness and nutrition dynamo with a huge Instagram following (seriously, look her up!). Generously appointed you can cook up a storm in the kitchen, or venture up the road to the Victory Hotel for hearty pub meals. 

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The treehouse's elevation means it affords spectacular views over the vines and you can spend hours drinking in the views and chillaxing.

Tearing ourselves away from these tranquil surrounds, it's off wine tasting and exploring. Our favourite McLaren Vale cellar door experiences on this trip were the personlised service encountered at Samuel's Gorge, like being welcomed by an old friend (who happens to make exceptional wine). You also can't go past the beautiful setting, great service and impressive wines at Angove Wines. Our tip, order a delicious regional platter and settle in fireside with a glass of Angove Family Crest 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Wine lovers will rejoice in staying amongst the vines for a wine weekend and the peaceful surrounds of Sellicks Chills Vineyards Retreats, to simply relax and chill with a glass of McLaren Vale wine.

Sellicks Chills Vineyard Retreat
90 Rogers Rd, Sellicks Hill SA 5174
Book Sellicks Chills Vineyard Retreat here.

We'd love to hear from you! Where's your favourite wine weekend destination? 

The writer was a guest of Sellicks Chills Vineyards Retreats.
Image credit: IG @alluxia
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Oct
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Best Bars to drink Champagne in Brisbane

Posted on in Travel Tips

As if you needed an excuse to pop a bottle of bubbles on Friday, it's also Global Champagne Day!

Dom Perignon knew a thing or two when he exclaimed 'Come quickly, I'm tasting the stars!' and our love affair continues to this day with the wonderful wine so inextricably linked with celebration.

To get the most out of your celebrations, here are our recommendations for the best bars to drink Champagne in Brisbane and celebrate Global Champagne Day:

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Mr & Mrs G Riverbar
With postcard worthy views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge, Mr & Mrs G Riverbar (pictured above) is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of the French stuff. With an impressive wine list by Sommelier Shawn Gomes there's a range of Champagne's available from NV Veuve Cliquot up to 2006 Louis Roederer "Cristal" if you're in the mood to indulge.

Up on Constance
Looking for a Brisbane hotel with an amazing rooftop bar? Then look no further than Tryp Hotel's stylish rooftop bar Up on Constance (pictured below). With a great share plate menu and Veuve Cliquot featuring prominently on the wine list, you'll find a bottle of Veuve at Up on Constance to be amongst the best value in town at $100/bottle. Cheers!

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Claret House
Tucked away in the London Woolstores building in Teneriffe Brisbane, Claret House is serious about wine. A stylish neighbourhood bar, with a laid back welcoming atmosphere Claret House is an ideal spot to enjoy delicious share plates and quality wine. To celebrate Global Champagne Day, Claret House Wine Bar is serving up a glass of Pol Roger and cheese board for $17.

Blackbird Bar
With a bar inspired by the opulence of The Great Gatsby and boasting panoramic river views, settle in to the luxurious lounges and drink in the incredible view. With an impressive drinks list including Gatsby inspired cocktails, ales and ciders, we still can't go past the range of Champagne on offer including Perrier Jouet, Ruinart, Bollinger, Dom Perignon and Louis Roederer 'Cristal'.

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Socialites Bar
A hidden gem in Brisbane is the intimate 1920's New York inspired Socialites Bar (pictured above) at the exquisite New Inchcolm Hotel. To celebrate Champagne Day, you can enjoy a bottle of Mumm Champagne for just $89 when you dine at Socialites Bar or Thomson's Reserve. Restaurant bookings & details here.

Cru Bar
This James Street stalwart is a great spot to enjoy a sundowner in stylish, sunny surrounds. As you'd expect there's an extensive wine list including half bottles of Champagne if you're feeling dainty up to a rehoboam (equivalent of 6 bottles or 4.5L) of Louis Roederer 'Cristal' if you're celebrating with a bang!

Enjoy Global Champagne Day responsibly or make a night of it with a Brisbane staycation at one of our handpicked collection of Brisbane accommodation.

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Oct
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Luxperience 2016

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

We kickstarted the event with a Thought Leaders Forum held at The Star, which included an incredible keynote speech by James 'Cas' Castrisson. If you haven't heard his story, it's a wonderfully inspiring journey told by a modern day adventurer.

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

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Lizard Island Resort
Reopened in June 2015 after a $53 million refurbishment, you'll feel truly secluded from the rest of the world at this luxury resort. With just 40 luxurious suites (pictured above), this all-inclusive resort is ideal for a romantic getaway or honeymoon. Accessible by pre-arranged light aircraft transfers, it's located directly on the Great Barrier Reef for the ultimate coastal cool holiday. Coming to alluxia soon.

Jackalope
This is such an exciting development, we seriously can't wait!! Imagine a luxury boutique hotel set on an award winning winery in the Mornington Peninsula, a hotel like no other. With 46 rooms, fine dining restaurant, infinity pool and pool pavilion overlooking the vineyards, add Jackalope to your "must visit" list for 2017. Currently under construction, Jackalope is due to open in February 2017. Coming to alluxia soon.

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Alkina Lodge
Seriously impressive, Alkina Lodge (pictured above) provides the ultimate luxury accommodation on the Great Ocean Road. With three four-bedroom luxury lodges available gather a group of friends and cook up a storm in the Gaggenau equipped gourmet kitchen or arrange for a private chef to cater your special occasion. Coming to alluxia soon.

Smiths Beach Resort
There have been a few changes at Smith's Beach Resort (pictured below) with Larmont's Restaurant receiving a soft refurbishment and the Gourmet Deli & Café moving locations to make way for a private dining room. There is also a range of organised activities on offer including yoga every Sunday morning for a small additional fee. Book Smiths Beach Resort here.

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Pacific Fair
After a $670 million renovation, Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast has emerged as Queensland's newest fashion destination. With 120 luxury Australian and international fashion & lifestyle brands including Sephora, Aje, Camilla, Hermes, Kate Spade, Michael Kors and more you're spoilt for choice. Check out the Visitor's Lounge with luggage minding, shower facilities, free WiFi and quiet room it's a welcome respite from some serious shopping. Stay nearby and choose from our Gold Coast Accommodation.

The Louise
It's all about food and wine at The Louise (pictured below) in the beautiful Barossa Valley. One of our favourite features at The Louise is that breakfast is indulgently served in your suite, so you can stay in your PJ's and lazily enjoy breakfast in your room. Previously a delicious continental breakfast has been delivered, however hot items are now available too. There are plenty of unique food & wine experiences available at The Louise to really enhance your Barossa Valley stay.

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Penfolds
Penfolds has built a second food outlet at their Adelaide winery, a more casual dining experience called Magill Estate Kitchen to compliment their fine diner. Tours are available from $20pp or why not indulge in the Ultimate Penfolds Experience including guided historical tour and luxury tasting of Penfolds most sought-after wines, in the surrounds of their private tasting rooms for $150pp. View our handpicked Adelaide accommodation here.

Ovolo
Word is there will be another Melbourne hotel joining the Ovolo portfolio soon. Meanwhile, one of the penthouses at Ovolo Laneways has been converted to a guest lounge and 1888 and Woolloomooloo have been given the Ovolo makeover with vibrant designs and creative food & beverage outlets.

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Despite a hectic week we also managed a quick photo shoot with iconic Australian fashion brand David Lawrence at Ovolo Woolloomooloo, a fun opportunity to play model for a day and get a sneak peek of David Lawrence's fabulous Spring Summer collection. You can read our 'Live.Love.Travel' story and our stylish 'City Getaway Edit' on the David Lawrence website now!

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

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09
Oct
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Kid friendly wineries on the Mornington Peninsula

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The sun is out, the birds are singing and the wineries are brimming with greenery - what better way to welcome Spring than to get out and explore the Mornington Peninsula. Just over an hour's drive from Melbourne, this scenic peninsula is home to some of the most beautiful wineries with stunning views and menus designed to showcase the delicious local produce.

Got kids? No problem! The kids will love exploring these kid friendly wineries on the Mornington Peninsula:

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CRITTENDEN ESTATE
Overlooking the picturesque lake, you can try a few wines in their newly appointed tasting room or for special occasion dining check out the restaurant Stillwater at Crittenden. The kids will love exploring this winery and making use of the games provided on the spacious lawn adjacent to the restaurant. Football, cricket, soccer, boules - they've got you covered so sit back and enjoy while the kids wear themselves out!
Best bits & tips: Enjoy a stress free flight tasting - to make the most of your wine tasting experience the wine centre provide the kids with activity packs to keep boredom at bay. You can also ask the staff at Stillwater for some bread to feed the ducks that flock to the lake. Crittenden Estate (pictured above) also have accommodation onsite in their beautiful Lakeside Villas.

STONIER WINES
Bask in the sunshine and bring along your own picnic while you sample the exceptional wines from Stonier (you HAVE to try the sparking!). While there is no cafe or restaurant at the winery, it's the perfect opportunity to pack a picnic and enjoy the outdoors. They do have cheese platters available to satisfy your afternoon cravings - just pop a few snacks in your bag for the kids and you're all set for a fantastic afternoon.
Best bits and tips: Stonier staff are more than happy to give you an informal tour of the fermentation and barrel rooms - just ask! And if you're feeling super adventurous why not take on the Red Hill Rail trail and make your way to the Red Hill Epicurean (just over an hour's walk) for a well earned coffee.

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POLPERRO
What better way to spend a Sunday than on the deck at Polperro sitting by the fire and watching the kids have the time of their lives. There is quite a bit of space for the kids to run around and the kids' food was absolutely delicious (I may have stolen a chip or two!). My kids had the best time exploring and playing hide and seek in the vines (pictured above)
Best bits and tips: The wine tasting room is a pretty impressive space and a lovely place to try out all their sensational wines. Adults only accommodation available onsite at Polperro too by alluxia.

YABBY LAKE VINEYARD
Being so close to the freeway, this winery is pretty popular with city folk and it's easy to see why. As soon as you step into this super stylish, newly renovated winery you are greeted with floor to ceiling windows bringing the vineyards right up to your table. This winery has the best of both worlds: great food and wine for mum & dad and enough stuff to keep the kids entertained. There are swings in full view of the restaurant and a lush lawn with interesting sculptures for the kids to run around and wear themselves out.
Best bits and tips: Make sure you check out the Pink Claw Rose that has been created by the founders of Yabby Lake to help raise awareness of breast cancer. Pink Claw has been used for fundraising events and campaigns and a portion of the profits of every bottle is donated to Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA).

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TUCKS RIDGE
You simply can't go past Tuck's Ridge when it comes to views. Showcasing all the colours of Autumn it's the ideal place to relax on the lawn and let the kids burn off some energy (pictured above). Tuck's is a casual environment that offers both indoor and outdoor dining overlooking the stunning vineyard and surrounds.
Best bits and tips: On Sundays there is a two course minimum of entrée, main and dessert to be aware of.

FOXEYS HANGOUT
Foxeys is a great little stop over to add to your wine touring agenda. You won't be disappointed with the wine tasting here and there is a huge grassy area for the kids to run around outside so everyone is happy. We usually order a few dishes from their delicious locally sourced tapas menu as a precursor before lunch.
Best bits and tips: Take a soccer ball for the kids to kick around so you can sit back and take in the view. The sparkling is one of my favourites and if you're feeling adventurous you can now blend your very own! Every Saturday and Sunday at 11am you can book in for a special private tutorial with the winemaker, Michael Lee.

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MONTALTO
This is the perfect place for a stress free lunch with the kids. Montalto's newly refurbished Piazza has a relaxed vibe with a Tuscan feel that offers indoor and outdoor dining. A fuss free menu for the kids and delicious offerings for the adults will have everyone in a food coma. Once you've eaten your fill of delicious pizza, you can work it off with a stroll through the beautiful gardens to check out the art installations. To top it all off, there are free olive oil tastings and the wine is sure to impress.
Best bits and tips: There are over 20 sculptures permanently on display throughout the Montalto grounds and from February to September this collection is joined by at least another 20 works from the annual Montalto Sculpture prize.

Browse our handpicked collection of Mornington Peninsula accommodation here.

Words & images by Kelly McLeod - My Little Adventures

 

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Oct
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Burleigh Beach Getaway at Bujerum Apartments

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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My family and I haven't holidayed together on the Gold Coast since I was a teenager. We'd make the annual pilgrimage north to Surfers Paradise, the quintessential Aussie beach holiday destination, passing the iconic Pink Poodle for a week in our beachside apartment. My childhood days were spent on the waterslide at Grundy's, playing at Magic Mountain and navigating the remote controlled boats at Pacific Fair. It was a simple life, an idyllic life, before the high-rises infiltrated the skyline casting shadows on the beach.

So it was a trip down memory lane this week when we descended on the Gold Coast, this time to Burleigh Heads where the true Gold Coast can still be found. With its beachside esplanade lined with Norfolk pines rather than high-rises, Burleigh retains its endless summer vibe.

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Under the shade of the Norfolk pines we browse the Burleigh Markets, popping up on the last Sunday of the month from 8am-2.30pm. They're surprising low on kitsch and high on coastal style, farm fresh produce and sweet treats. Nearby James Street is filled with some notable gourmet providores including Golosi Food Emporium, James Street Deli and Burleigh Baker. We gather our goodies and check in to our seaside digs.

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Bujerum Apartments is the ideal base to explore everything Burleigh has to offer. The boutique luxury complex has just 5 stylish apartments directly opposite Burleigh Beach. We stayed in a ground floor two-bedroom one-bathroom apartment, which is furnished in fresh, contemporary coastal cool décor. The bonus to the ground floor apartments are not having to navigate stairs but the drawbacks are anytime a van parked out front, they blocked your view.

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When instant coffee just won't do, get your morning caffeine fix across the road at Nook Espresso. Literally a hole-in-the-wall spot with a couple of surfer dudes cheerily crammed in and turning out a superb daily brew. They seem to know everyone by name and I long to be a local too.

Everyone we encounter is cheery, chatty and interested to hear where we're from, which makes for a welcoming and super relaxed holiday vibe.

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Brunching options are endless, but we opt for the charming converted Queenslander Paddock Bakery with the most retro sounding address – Hibiscus Haven, Miami! There's plenty of outdoor dining under the shady trees, surrounded by beautiful gardens to enjoy your spoils, which come served in little cardboard boxes giving the whole experience a casual, garden party feel.

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With bellies full from brunch we head up to Broadbeach to the newly redeveloped Pacific Fair. The motorised boats are long gone and replaced with 'the resort' a haven of sun beds, shimmering water and relaxation pods; a respite from the incredible array of shops on offer, it's a fashionistas paradise! It's truly a destination in itself, with flagship stores to make even Melbournians envious.

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Our family celebrations culminated in a late Sunday lunch at The Fish House. It's really a flawless dining experience, with professional waitstaff anticipating your every whim; exceptional food & wine and a million dollar view overlooking Burleigh. This fine dining experience comes at a price though and I'm somewhat shocked that the 300g whiting 'special' comes with a $66 price tag. Our Petuna Ocean Trout (pictured above) oven baked,soft herbs & macadamia is from the a la carte menu and more reasonably priced at $42.

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It's not all fine dining in Burleigh, we head out to Justin Lane for midweek pizza and find it a bustling joint with noticeably good-looking staff. It looks as though it's grown a life of it's own, taking over several shopfronts, an old arcade and rooftop terrace drawn together with cool white interiors accented with brass lights and swinging bulbs and the unpretentious tagline of "eat, drink & be messy". The rooftop bar is a must-visit, with a great cocktail list and views overlooking Burleigh. Our 'love & lemons' cocktail was a perfectly balanced combination of vanilla vodka, limoncello and prosecco – the ideal sundowner for hot summer days.

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As the sun sets on Burleigh, with the Surfers Paradise skyline glistening across the ocean I'm pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of Burleigh locals out walking along the foreshore, picnicking on the shoreline and generally taking full advantage of this incredible beachside suburb. They clearly understand what a gem they're blessed to live in and aren't taking it for granted. The secrets out, a holiday in Burleigh Heads is a nostalgic nod to the Gold Coast endless summer of the past with a cool, contemporary vibe that's all Burleigh.

Where to Stay:
Bujerum Apartments
26 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads
Book online with no fees and best rate guarantee at alluxia.
Browse our handpicked collection of Gold Coast Accommodation.

Have you been to the Gold Coast lately? What hidden gems did you find?

Image credit: IG @alluxia

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Sep
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Review The Watson Adelaide

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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A weekend getaway to Adelaide conjures up thoughts of fine food, wine, art and culture and what better place to experience all of this than The Watson, Adelaide.

The Watson is located about 5 minutes from Adelaide CBD, in the city fringe suburb of Walkerville just moments from the café strip of Melbourne Street. It's also a great base to explore Adelaide and beyond.

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We opt to borrow the Art Series snazzy Smart car to explore the nearby Adelaide Hills, just 40 minutes from the hotel door. Our first stop is The Lane Vineyard, surely one of the most picturesque wineries in the Adelaide Hills. There is much to experience at The Lane Vineyard with a great cellar door, various tasting menus and fine dining restaurant, however I recommend you go straight to the Gathering Indulgence experience, a curated flight of occasion and heritage wines matched with tasty morsels prepared by Executive Chef James Brinklow and team.

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The flight arrives on an impressive custom made tray and I'm taken through each wine with thorough descriptions and plenty of time to savour every moment. First up is the Cuvee Helen, made for the owner's wife Helen as thanks for her patience for entertaining such a folly as winemaking. I'm sure she doesn't mind at all sipping away on these first class bubbles! Next, the 2013 Gathering Sauvignon Blanc is paired with blue swimmer crab, avocado and wasabi roe, followed by a handpicked 2013 Beginning Chardonnay with gougere pastry, compte, Woodside goats curd & honey. Rounding out the incredible tasting is the 2013 Reunion Shiraz with chicken liver parfait, brioche, cornichon and finally a 2012 19th Meeting Cabernet Sauvignon with Vietnamese tartare, crisp shallot on rice cracker.

I'm not sure if it's the wine, the sun shining, the inspiring panoramic views of the winery or the delicious food, but I'm in my happy place. Sigh

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Other wineries of note we visited in the region during a day of wine tasting are Pike & Joyce, Shaw & Smith, Petaluma, Hahndorf Hill Winery and Deviation Road, with plenty more to choose from.

After a huge day of wine tasting, it was a relief to return to The Watson and simply relax in the studio apartment with what else, but more cheese and wine from The Lane! The cheese & treats were acquired earlier from Adelaide Central Markets, a must visit while you're in town. The Markets are right in the CBD on Gouger Street, on Wed, Fri, Sat with free onsite parking.

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My apartment is a welcoming bright white space, decorated with red accents to complement the bright Tommy Watson artworks that adorn the walls.

The fully equipped kitchenette resides along one wall of the studio and has everything you need for meal prep and more including oven, stovetop & microwave. The minibar is stocked with enticing treats and room service menu available from Local Grind or delivery from local restaurant Nest Bistro.

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Having opened just over 12 months ago, the hotel is already showing signs of age, with marks on the marble benchtop etc and would benefit from a little maintenance. Service also needed a little polish. I received numerous calls prior to arrival including one asking what wine on arrival I preferred, so pre-arrival expectations were high. Alas, no wine was in the room on arrival and I had to sheepishly ask at reception whether they'd be kind enough to deliver it.

Downstairs restaurant Local Grind is a great café with super friendly staff who make a mean coffee, with Proud Mary beans and an excellent breakfast menu to boot.

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I'm not sure why I thought a qualified art curator would be on hand to take me through the hotel's art tour, so I was a little surprised when the tour was conducted by the young receptionist. Admittedly it was his first tour but we wandered the hallways awkwardly and he wasn't able to elaborate much more than advise blue denoted life cycles and watering holes. I'd hoped for more insight to this great Australian artist, however there are also books on the artist in every room to browse.

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The Watson is a fun, fresh home away from home and the perfect base to enjoy the art of fine wine in South Australian style.

The Watson
33 Warwick St, Walkerville
Book The Watson here.

The Lane Vineyard
Gathering Indulgence from $35pp

The writer was a guest of The Watson and The Lane Vineyard.
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Sep
1

Alluxia 4th Birthday Prize Winner

Posted on in Travel Tips

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Thanks to everyone who entered our 4th Birthday Competition, we were overwhelmed with the number of entries and we're pleased to reveal our lucky winner is...

Mel Kettle, Brisbane

Mel has won two nights accommodation at Elements of Byron staying in a Botanica Villa, daily breakfast for two in Graze Restaurant, daily sunrise yoga & WiFi. In addition, Mel will enjoy a *$500 David Lawrence styling experience. Total value $1,570.

Congratulations to our winner and thank you for our generous partners Elements of Byron and David Lawrence.

Missed out, but would love a relaxing break at Elements of Byron? Book Elements of Byron on alluxia.com before 30 September 2016 and mention "4th Birthday" in the comments and receive a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine on arrival.

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*Competition Terms & Conditions
 

You Might Also Like: Packing for a Spring Escape

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Sep
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Top 10 Family Holidays

Posted on in Travel Tips

In the lead up to school holidays, we're sharing a series of features designed to inspire family holiday fun!

Whether it's a weekend away, family holiday or simply time to escape the daily grind and enjoy some fun family time, Australia has a host of brilliant holiday hot spots.

In our first family holiday story, we're sharing the Top 10 Family Holiday Houses & Resorts, guaranteed to house the whole family and more in style and comfort. Keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming features in the series including kid friendly wineries and what's new on the Gold Coast.

To save you time, we've gathered alluxia's Top 10 Family Holiday Accommodation:

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Q1 Resort & Spa, Gold Coast QLD
Nothing says family fun in the sun than the Gold Coast and what better place to stay than the iconic Q1 Resort & Spa. This landmark resort rises 322.5m above the ocean with Australia's only beachside observation desk located on Level 77 offering 360 degree views of the dazzling Gold Coast. Back on ground level you have plenty of resort pools to choose from and onsite dining at Longboards Eatery & Bar for gourmet burgers across the road from the beach. Within easy reach of Gold Coast theme parks too!

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A Summer Cottage, Bryon Bay NSW
One of our favourite houses in Byron Bay, this hidden gem is located in a quiet street within walking distance to Byron Bay town centre. The house is super stylish, yet comfortably relaxed for breezy summer holidays. Complete with a private heated swimming pool, cubby house and sandpit you'll hardly want to leave your holiday haven to head to the beach!

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Witta Circle, Noosa Sunshine Coast QLD
If you have a whole tribe to accommodate, perhaps holidaying with another family, this is the ultimate holiday house for you! Witta Circle is a luxury holiday house with private pool, entertaining area, poolside bar and BBQ area. Upstairs there is plenty of luxurious bedrooms and a parent's retreat, while the kids can sleep in stylish bunk bed rooms. There is plenty to see and do on the Sunshine Coast with kids including a visit to Australia Zoo, Underwater World, exploring Noosa National Park or simply hit the beach!

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St Jerome's The Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Like camping but want something a little more luxe? Check out St Jerome's The Hotel, high above the Melbourne CBD on the rooftop of Melbourne Central. These ultra cool luxe tents have a host of inclusions including a complimentary fully stocked esky with your favourite beverages and you can arrange Grill'd sliders and chips to be delivered to your tent! St Jerome's is kid friendly and can provide an air mattress and extra bedding for an additional $50.

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Smiths Beach Resort, Margaret River WA
No matter what your family size, Smiths Beach Resort can accommodate you from a one bedroom beach shack to the ultra luxe 4 bedroom beach house. You're absolute beachfront and perfectly positioned to take in the magnificent Western Australian coastline. The resort boasts onsite restaurants, swimming pool & tennis court and plenty of activities can be arranged including horse riding, caving and mountain biking.

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Beachview Bellerive, Hobart TAS
Tasmania is a favourite destination and base yourself in style at Beachview Bellerive. This stylish house will feel like a home away from home with 3 luxurious bedrooms. Just 10 minutes from the centre of Hobart, Bellerive has plenty of attractions to explore including walking and cycling tracks and is opposite International Blundstone Arena. If you're venturing further afield, a water taxi from Bellerive Boardwalk will take you directly to Salamanca and the city.

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C-Vue Lorne, Great Ocean Road, VIC
Great Ocean Road is a great family destination with plenty of surf beaches and activities such as visiting the Australian National Surfing Museum, Otway National Park and Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. Base yourself in this contemporary four bedroom holiday house ideal for families or groups to enjoy the Great Ocean Road in style.

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Stones Throw Cottage, Newcastle NSW
Newcastle is so hot right now, a coastal cool, relaxed city that offers great value for families. This renovated two-bedroom holiday house is an easy walk to the beach, family friendly cafes and restaurants in Darby Street and Newcastle Art Gallery.

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Aquabelle Apartments, Mornington Peninsula VIC
Enjoy beachside luxury in this stylish boutique accommodation perfect for family holidays in the seaside town of Rye. Relax and reconnect with family at Aquabelle, the perfect base to explore all the Mornington Peninsula has to offer including Maze adventures, mini-golf, tree surfing and more. Stay tuned for our next story on kid friendly wineries in the Mornington Peninsula.

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Aqua Luxury Apartments, Hervey Bay QLD
Hervey Bay is a great value family destination with plenty of beaches, water sports and whale watching on offer. Aqua Luxury Apartments has two Penthouse style apartments, each with three bedrooms and stunning views of the bay. For your sanity, there is a tapas restaurant & wine bar on the ground floor. How convenient!

Browse our full collection of family fun holidays or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details.

Do you have a favourite family holiday destination? Let us know below, we'd love to hear from you!

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Sep
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Packing for a Spring Escape

Posted on in Travel Tips
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For those of you planning a trip away and who need a little help packing your bag, we've got you covered with how to pack for the perfect escape, inspired by David Lawrence's new Spring Summer collection.

With Spring now here, this packing guide includes a selection of items for a weekend away where the weather can be anything from warm and sunny to cool and breezy and features pieces from David Lawrence's new SS16 collection, Multiplicity, which focuses on effortless luxury–everything we love here at Alluxia.

For a two day weekend away, you really only need a couple of outfits; one for travelling to your destination on the Saturday, one for Saturday night and one to get through Sunday. Jeans and three-quarter pants are great options as you can dress them up or opt for a more casual look. We love the classic look of pieces available but couldn't go past the Sailor Stripe tee and Lace Front Sleeveless top for mixing and matching, adding in a scarf for an extra splash of colour.

We've included two bags – a cool weekender bag for packing and a tan tote for the day. We also included a wallet, which you can use during the day and as a clutch at night.

David Lawrence's classic trench coat (we've featured Ecru, but it also comes in six other colours) will get you through daytime and over a dress for a night out.

Shoes are a personal choice but espadrilles are huge this Spring/Summer and the Carla Leather Espadrilles from David Lawrence come in light blue and classic black. The light blue is a great way to lighten up your summer outfits. We've also included the gorgeous new Scalloped Heel in magenta for night, which will really pop against the Tencel Wrap Dress.

Don't forget to capture your magic moments on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II camera with it's cool retro style and keep track of time, so you don't miss your dinner reservation, with a classic watch such as the Nixon Small Time Teller in rose gold.

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WHAT TO PACK FOR A SPRING ESCAPE
1. David Lawrence Kelsey Trench | 2. David Lawrence Lace Front Sleeveless Top | 3. David Lawrence Tencel Wrap Dress | 4. David Lawrence Sailor Stripe Tee | 5. David Lawrence 7/8 Sophia Pants | 6. David Lawrence Jackie Washed Denim Skinny Jeans | 7. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark 11 camera | 8. David Lawrence Skinny Leather Knot Front Belt |9. David Lawrence Textured Leather Wallet |10. Forestbound Escape Canvas Utility Bag |11. David Lawrence Leather Tote | 12. Nixon Small Time Teller Watch | 13. Ace of Something Trigg Straw Fedora | 14. David Lawrence Scalloped Heel | 15. David Lawrence Carla Leather Espadrilles | 16. David Lawrence Leopard Print Silk and Modal Scarf.

For a limited time, enjoy 30% off all sale styles by David Lawrence. Use Promo Code 'EXTRA30'.

For your chance to win a styling session and $500 wardrobe from David Lawrence and a two night escape at Elements of Byron including daily continental breakfast and sunrise beach yoga, simply enter here. Good luck!

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Aug
3

Elements of Byron review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Elements of Byron's true beauty is slowly revealed, like sunrise peeking through the horizon over the ocean to start a new day.

On arrival at Elements of Byron, it's not quite the luxury resort I was expecting. The vast carpark comes into view, followed by the main low-level pavilion and beyond a series of demountable style buildings dotted across the resort. Is this really Australia's newest world-class beachfront resort?

However, one step inside my Botanica Villa reveals the true wow factor and a new level of luxury. The villa is a split-level design, separating the living and sleeping areas in style, creating a spacious and practical layout. The lower level features a comfortable couch for two, kitchenette with coffee machine and the dividing breakfast bar doubles as TV stand & dining space with two stools tucked neatly underneath.

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The upper level, just two steps up, has a desk, king size bed with fabulous gold cushions, walk-in wardrobe with plush bathrobes and bathroom (as big as the bedroom) with freestanding bath, Appelles amenities, shower and separate toilet. It's a well-planned layout for a romantic getaway and beautifully designed with luxurious styling in natural coastal cool tones and textures with woods, neutrals and splash of colour from the headboard artwork.

The 90+ villas are dotted across the vast property, with stage two and further 99 villas underway to complete the resort. Surrounded by nature, new plantings will flourish and mature to complete the eco-resort style.

The centrepiece of the resort is the epic lagoon pool with hanging lounges, day beds, cabanas and a poolside fire pit, an ideal spot to enjoy sunset drinks. It's the kind of pool you could lounge about in all day, but there is much to explore in Byron.

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Exploring Byron Bay is always a fun adventure and we've written about where to eat and drink here and here. Elements is located just out of town at Belongil Beach, so I decided to venture close by to hidden gem FOLK for avo toast for lunch. As you'd expect for a Byron cafe, it has a super chilled vibe and is achingly cool.

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That night I checked out recently refurbished restaurant Balcony Bar & Oyster Co and was bitterly disappointed with the food & experience and wished I'd stayed in and dined at the resort. As consolation, I ordered an Espresso Martini back at Elements as a nightcap, which was a total winner. A cute touch is the coasters of the day series, by artist Mary Juice. The lobby, bar and restaurant is filled with pieces by local artists, specially commissioned by the owners and featured prominently in the poolside pavilion.b2ap3_thumbnail_Elements-of-Byron-barSS.JPG

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Your stay includes complimentary morning yoga by the beach. It sounds great in theory, but when the alarm goes off at 5.30am (following a night of espresso martinis) and I hear the pitter-patter of rain outside, I figure I'm off the hook. My conscience gets the better of me and I phone reception to confirm whether yoga is cancelled. I'm cheerily informed it's been moved to Osprey Spa due to the inclement weather *sigh*. I arrive at the day spa to find only one other guest has made the effort to get up. We start our yoga practice and the teacher stops and says "I'm just not feeling it, it's stopped raining now, shall we go to the beach?" We're not feeling it either and pack our gear into a buggy and tear up to the beach. Sure it's a bit damp underfoot, but we lay a few towels down and get started and are handsomely rewarded with the sun rising over the ocean to warm us, and the calming sound of the waves to soothe us. It's a truly magical experience.

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I'm feeling rejuvenated and revived (and just a little bit smug) as I head to breakfast. I glance around at all the other diners who opted to sleep in, but I feel as though they're the ones who have missed out. Also included in your stay is a Farmers Market continental breakfast in Graze Restaurant. It's a simple selection of pastries, breads, cereals etc so I recommend indulging in ordering from the a la carte breakfast menu which includes items such as smoked salmon eggs royale, Shakshouka or Zucchini and Sweet Corn Fritters.

Throughout our stay, the relaxed attitude of the staff suits the slow-paced Byron vibe, more than a typical 5 star service style would.

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Elements of Byron is the kind of resort you don't want to leave, where you can happily relax by the pool, be pampered in the day spa and enjoy a cocktail poolside. The beauty of the resort slowly revealed so you leave feeling nourished, revived and rejuvenated and longing to return.

To celebrate alluxia's 4th Birthday, we're offering the chance to win a two night escape to Elements of Byron, plus a styling experience and $500 wardrobe from David Lawrence. Enter here and entries open 25 August and close 15 September 2016.

Elements of Byron
144 Bayshore Drive, Byron Bay NSW
Book Elements of Byron here.

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Aug
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Your first look at Heart Hotel & Gallery Whitsundays

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Excitement is building ahead of the opening next month of Heart Hotel & Gallery Whitsundays, a landmark new development scheduled to open mid September in Airlie Beach.

On our recent trip to Airlie Beach, work was still underway on the new boutique hotel, however the Queenslander façade and tropical feel were already apparent, along with high-pitched roofs and verandas dotted along the exterior.

General Manager, Jeff Aquilina reveals the extraordinary detail involved in fitting out the new boutique hotel. "Hunt Design Architects have been tasked with capturing the essence of a tropical Queenslander, creating an elegant and timeless design to blend seamlessly to the Airlie Beach foreshore". Windows have been double-glazed to ensure guests comfort during their stay in the vibrant township.

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Located right in the heart of Airlie Beach's resort village, guests will be able to wander to local markets, Port of Airlie and be surrounded by restaurants, cafes and bars.

From the moment you arrive, Heart Hotel's friendly team of bespoke butlers will be there to greet you, extending highly personalised intuitive service to all its guests. The hotel will offer 24 hour Reception, a first for Airlie Beach.

The hotel features 40 luxurious rooms, thoughtfully decorated in a modern, sophisticated style. Featuring upper level club floors and modern elegant suites some boasting Airlie Beach or Coral Sea Ocean Views. Design inspiration will be in crisp blue & whites, drawing inspiration from the ocean and tropical surrounds.

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In-room features will include Bose sound systems, impressive 'Big Ass' fans, Movielink premium channels, free WiFi, indulgent rain showers and French amenities from L'Occitane.

First class food and wine will be the cornerstone of Heart Hotel's success with a range of restaurants, lounge bar and street side café available for visitors and guests. The air-conditioned casual, yet elegant and sophisticated surrounds are bound to be popular with locals and guests.

Heart Hotel falls under Accor's M Gallery by Sofitel brand designed to embrace each destinations unique style to create memorable moments. Accor members will be able to enjoy all the benefits of their loyalty programme in this new boutique hotel.

A unique feature of the hotel will be an art gallery located on the top floor, which will feature monthly exhibitions from local Whitsunday artists. The opening exhibition is still under wraps, with details to be revealed soon.

Alluxia looks forward to welcoming this new Airlie Beach boutique hotel to the Whitsundays. Book Heart Hotel & Gallery Whitsundays on alluxia with best rate guarantee, opening rates from $200/night.

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13
Aug
1

Best Bookstores in Australia

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It seems every day there is a special day celebrating everything from International Vinyl Record Day (12 Aug) to International Coffee Day (29 Sept), but today is National Bookshop Day in Australia! It's a great opportunity to support local, independent bookstores and celebrate your love of books!

While we have some great bookstores here in Brisbane, we also love to seek out special bookstores when we're travelling. Here's some of our favourite Australian Bookstores in Brisbane and beyond:

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Scrumptious Reads, Brisbane QLD
Satisfy your love of everything culinary at Scrumptious Reads (pictured above). This inviting store on James Street is stocked full of cookbooks, eclectic kitchenware and magazines for the food lover. Scrumptious Reads is not just a bookstore, it is also an event space and private dining room.

Avid Reader, Brisbane QLD
Avid Reader is one of Brisbane's most iconic bookstores, located in the eclectic suburb of West End. Part bookstore, part café Avid Reader also hosts a number of book clubs including the spicy sounding "Good Sex Award Book Club". With all this activity, it has a buzzing, inviting feel that has you coming back again and again.

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Folio Books, Brisbane QLD
Not even a location change to make way for a new, shiny hotel could dampen the appetite of Brisbane book lovers for Folio Books (pictured above). In business for over 30 years, the store specialises in unique books on a range of subjects including art, architecture, photography, travel and more. Their online store is also a treasure trove of hard to find titles.

Title, Brisbane QLD
Opening in South Bank under the Brisbane Convention Centre it's a welcome escape for conference delegates. Like its sister stores in Sydney and Melbourne, Title is a highly curated retail space dedicated to all things music, film and of course books.

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Book Barn Berrima, Southern Highlands NSW
This is mecca for booklovers! Famous bookstore family Berkelouw, have housed a unique collection of books in a beautifully transformed barn with stunning cathedral ceilings, timber beams and stone fireplace (pictured above). The Book Barn is the centrepiece of Bendooley Estate – winery, restaurant and event space. For weddings and special events the bookshelves are rolled away, transforming into a magical book-lined space. Worth travelling for...

Berkelouw Bookstore Eumundi, Sunshine Coast QLD
Once you've trundled the Eumundi Markets, head across the road to Berkelouw Books housed in the historic Eumundi Trading Post building. Stacked the rafters with thousands of books, you'll easily lose track of time browsing the eclectic collection of titles while enjoying coffee and treats in the café. Berkelouw is a great spot for holidaymakers to the Sunshine Coast.

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Favourite Chair Café Maitland, Newcastle NSW
I discovered this gem after browsing the Olive Tree Markets nearby, we stopped for lunch at Favourite Chair Café and fell in love with it's whimsical and eclectic ambience (pictured above). The book-lined café adjoins Posims, a second-hand bookstore so you'll want to stay a while and browse there too. The Café is under new management since February 2016 and I hope it has retained its charm and comfort food menu since our last delightful visit.

Gertrude & Alice Bondi, Sydney NSW
Gertrude & Alice is an institution in Sydney, creating an inviting and appealing atmosphere just moments to iconic Bondi Beach. Inspired by Paris' famous Shakespeare & Company, the store has a European feel, an inspiring space with over 25,000 books to browse all while enjoying café fare and Campos Coffee. Heaven.

These are our favourite bookstores, did yours make the list? Share your favourite Australian bookstores, we'd love visit them all!

Image credit: Scrumptious Reads, Folio Books, David Campbell, Favourite Chair.
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Review Viridian Noosa Residences

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

Alluxia's Sally Scott discovers a secret hilltop hideaway just a stroll from Hastings Street.

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I've been to Noosa countless times and I'm amazed I've missed a little road tucked down the end of Hastings Street that leads you to the hilltop hideaway of Viridian Noosa Residences.

Viridian Noosa Residences is under new management and owner David Oliver is refreshing the property and spreading the word on this hidden gem, ideal for family holidays or group getaways.

It's a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Hastings Street, accessible via a coded entry with a handful of villas dotted in the hillside. Established gardens between the villas assures your privacy, coupled with the views of Laguna Bay and surrounded by Noosa National Park, the resort feels like a tropical getaway.

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Our three-bedroom villa is bright and airy; windows are flung open for our arrival letting the sun stream in, making a magical first impression. The architect-designed villa is cleverly designed to take full advantage of the elements with multiple balconies and an inviting reading nook amongst the palm trees.

Our villa has everything you'd expect from a luxury holiday residence starting with a fully equipped gourmet kitchen complete with zip water tap, coffee pod machine and BBQ on the back deck. Perfect for entertaining, the dining table comfortably seats eight and leads onto the main deck if you'd rather dine alfresco. Our villa only had one lounge, which wouldn't be enough if everyone wanted to watch a movie together.

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The main bedroom on the upper level is a luxurious light filled space with its own balcony and sunlounge. The bedroom has a walk-in-wardrobe leading through to a large en-suite, complete with spa bath, separate shower and decked out with Appelles amenities. Downstairs are two more spacious bedrooms, one with en-suite boasting a deep soaking bath and both opening onto their own private decks.

Each villa has been uniquely designed, so you may experience some variations to layout and interior design when you stay. All are surrounded by native bushland, making it feel like a luxurious treehouse sanctuary.

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It's such an incredibly relaxing setting; you almost don't want to leave the villa, however, the boutiques, bars and restaurants of Hastings Street beckons.

The drawcard for our foodie family was Viridian's central location, being just a stroll to Hastings Street means you can leave the car in the double lock up garage for the duration for your stay and indulge in a wine or two with no one having to be designated driver.

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Our first stop was a long lunch at Bistro C overlooking picturesque Noosa Main Beach. We indulged in Bistro C's famous calamari with chilli, lime and coriander with a fabulous Paringa Estate Pinot Gris. My main of salmon, sounded simple enough served with cauliflower puree, roasted fleurettes, shaved green beans, mint, blistered raisins, orange emulsion but was actually overly complicated with flavours and would have benefited from a 'less is more' approach. Regardless, we were seduced back the next day for Bistro C's Sip and Share Spanish flavours by the Sea tapas available from 3-5 daily.

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Our progressive lunch included a stop at Massimo's Gelateria for a lick of gelato before heading back to our villa for an afternoon siesta. The resort has a heated swimming pool and easily accessible walking tracks to the Laguna Lookout if you're feeling more energetic.

A secret no longer, Viridian Noosa Residences is the perfect Noosa escape just a stone's throw from Hastings Street to your luxury hillside haven. A tranquil oasis you just won't want to leave.

Viridian Noosa Residences
3 Morwong Drive, Noosa Heads
Book Viridian Noosa Residences here.

The writer was a guest of Viridian Noosa Residences.
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What’s New on Alluxia - Winter 2016

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While you might be tempted to hibernate this winter, we've been busily exploring the country for the freshest finds to add to the alluxia collection!

As we head into the new financial year, it's time to reflect on all our new and noteworthy additions that our team have been busily creating for you. From hilltop hideaways in Noosa to the secluded getaways in the Yarra Valley we've got plenty of unique stays to surprise and delight even the most discerning of travellers.

Explore the collection in full confidence that alluxia independently verifies the properties listed for their quality and inspect the properties to ensure our handpicked collection is the best of the best in each region of Australia for you.

Here's our latest finds:

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Sydney, NSW
The slinky, sexy city has plenty of new boutique hotels to consider.
Ovolo 1888 – 1888 has had a fresh Ovolo makeover
Ovolo Woolloomooloo – Sydney's sexiest new hotel (pictured above). You can also read our review here.

Central Coast, NSW
More to come from this beachy town...
Terrigal Sails – luxe for less in the heart of Terrigal

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Perth
We bring you the best from the west!
Alex Hotel – a fresh new face in Perth (pictured above)

Canberra
Our nation's capital is serving up some unique and quirky accommodation.
Jamala Wildlife Lodge – for a wild night of adventure
Avenue Hotel – Designer hotel in Canberra

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Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne is the king of boutique hotels and here's another...
Jasper Hotel – luxe for less in Melbourne's CBD

Yarra Valley & Dandenongs, VIC
In between wine tasting in the Yarra Valley, we found some great accommodation!
3 Kings Bed & Breakfast – stay like a King in these well-appointed villas
Wingspread – an idyllic hideaway. You can also read our review here.
Clarendon Cottages – under new management and filled with country charm
Folly Farm – stay on a blueberry farm with privacy and seclusion
The Gallery B&B – stylish and contemporary stay in the Dandenongs (pictured above)

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Brisbane, QLD
Watch this space, plenty more new openings in Brisbane in 2016.
TRYP Hotel – stay at Brisbane's first street art hotel

Gold Coast, QLD
Famous for fun, these new additions are fabulous!
Bujerum Apartments – Gold Coast's most dazzling apartments
Rhapsody Resort – brand-new luxury apartment style hotel (pictured above)

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Sunshine Coast, QLD
Thought you knew Noosa, here's the latest hidden gem...
Viridian Noosa Residences – a luxurious hilltop hideaway (pictured above)

Whitsundays, QLD
We'll have more to come from the sunny Whitsundays!
Heart Hotel – new luxury hotel launching in September 2016

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Adelaide, SA
This impressive city is filled with arts and culture and some great boutique hotels.
Miller Apartments – luxe for less in Adelaide's CBD
Mayfair Hotel – brand new luxury boutique hotel in Adelaide

Fleurieu Peninsula, SA
Adding to our Fleurieu Peninsula collection with these beautiful getaways.
Amanda's Cottage – country charm close to McLaren Vale
McLaren Eye – luxury holiday house close to McLaren Vale wineries ideal for special occasions

Which new addition has you dreaming of a winter getaway? Have you stayed at one of these holiday houses or hotels before? If so, we'd love to hear your feedback! Leave a comment below.

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Jul
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Ovolo Woolloomooloo Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

Set inside the longest timber-piled wharf in the world and after a multi-million dollar refurbishment, Sally Scott checks in to see what's changed at the wharf.

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Arriving at this Sydney hotel, Britney Spears "Baby one more time" blasts through the lobby, the first hint my stay at Ovolo Woolloomooloo isn't going to be a dull experience.

I've stayed at this hotel before, in its previous incarnation BLUE when it was all-nautical luxe and sipped champagne in the Water Bar when it was the more formal W. So I have to say it was with trepidation that I booked Ovolo, wondering what changes have been made to the grand old wharf. Ovolo seems a curiously contemporary choice to revamp this heritage-listed landmark and it's barely recognisable, oozing with fun and whimsy but somehow...it works.

The exterior has remained unchanged with its blue façade and the restaurant lined wharf gleaming in the sun. Step inside though and it's like a fairy has sprinkled glitter all of this hotel, err but in a good way. It's an assault on the senses, everywhere you look there's some little treasure, flashing light, colourful art piece or touch of whimsy.

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Check-in is a dream with efficient and friendly service, which continues for the duration of my stay. Thoughtful staff anticipate my needs and several call me by my first name throughout my stay which is super impressive. Standouts are Kevin the ever-smiling concierge who seems always cheery even when meeting me at the car with an umbrella to fend off the rain. Valet parking is available for the somewhat ouchy price of $40 per day, but hey you're in Sydney.

Arriving in the middle of happy hour, the lobby is a convivial scene with guests lounging about amongst pink flamingos, twinkling fairy lights, playing old-school arcade games and pool, all while enjoying the complimentary beverages and canapés. It's a truly welcoming vibe. The canapés are generous and we munched on a selection including fresh tuna & avocado, cucumber topped with goat's cheese and ricotta cheese with marinated olives. Booze was also generous with a selection of beers, wine, sparkling wine and spirits including Smirnoff Vodka, Gordons Gin, George Dickel Bourbon, J&B Rare Scotch Whiskey and soft drinks.

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I'm booked into a Superoo, a spacious and dimly lit room with super comfy king bed and bright green day bed under the window with views of Woolloomooloo and Harbour Bridge glimpses. As you'd expect from a new hotel, technology is forefront with Smart TV, Apple TV, Foxtel Channels, in-room Ipad (which doubles as the compendium), free WiFi and more. The hero of the room is the ultra comfortable cloud-like bed with its fabric headboard depicting varyious retro scenes. These retro prints are also printed on the complimentary tote bag, which comes in handy as you play tourist in Sydney.

The bathroom is brilliant with wall-to-wall modern grey and black tiles, shower over bath, plenty of Biology amenities and fluffy bathrobes and slippers. There is a little ledge over the toilet paper, (for your mobile phone apparently) which is becoming a trend in hotels, what will they think of next?

I sashay out of the hotel, feeling every bit the rockstar and meet friends for dinner. Returning late, I find the most delicious welcome amenity, a chocolate dessert with a thoughtful handwritten note letting me know my midnight snack is in the fridge. Love!

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For the uninitiated, the Ovolo concept is an all-inclusive affair, which gives the hotel an indulgent, fun feel, from the daily happy hour, free in-room snacks, free mini bar replenished daily and complimentary breakfast – it's all included in your room rate.

The next night, returning late again after a travel industry event, I am thankful for the complimentary goodies and devour the minibar, some nuts, popcorn and wine become a stand-in dinner. Usually one to shy away from high priced mini-bars I hit the free minibar with abandon!

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The complimentary breakfast is very impressive too. Plenty of staff are on hand to attend to your every whim and the buffet is beautifully displayed with everything you'd expect from a continental buffet – fruit, cold meats, cheese, breads, cereals, pastries, juices and coffees with a few quality extras like smoked salmon and a daily hot dish option. Espresso coffees are available to order for an additional charge.

The hero of the hotel has to be the Lo-Lounge, while previously the architecture of the wharf hotel lobby bar was dramatic it was also somewhat cold and soulless. Now, with the Ovolo touch it's a site of pure fun and happiness - pops of pinks, bespoke artwork, cool tunes and cosy corners.

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You're spoilt for choice with great restaurants lining the wharf, however we head up the road to Potts Point to Billy Kwong and share dumplings, silken tofu, wallaby and Kylie Kwong's famous duck. The wine list features artisanal and natural wines and we thoroughly enjoyed our Gentle Folk Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2014, which was sensational. The whole experience was amazing and we leave in a little food coma.

Ovolo Woolloomooloo is perfectly positioned between Sydney's Eastern Suburbs and the CBD. It's within easy reach of the city's top attractions and an easy stroll to Art Gallery of NSW and the Royal Botanic Gardens - which has recently unveiled Sydney's newest attraction The Calyx featuring it's the Sweet Addiction exhibition.

Ovolo Woolloomooloo is a feast of the senses! It's for the young or young at heart, with a rock star edge and those who don't mind a side of Britney Spears with their 5 star checkin.

Ovolo Woolloomooloo
6 Cowper Street Wharf, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Book Ovolo Woolloomoolloo here.

The writer was a guest of Ovolo Woolloomooloo.

Images: IG @alluxia

 

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Adelaide Hills Winter Reds Weekend

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At this time of year, summer feels like forever away, your next holiday is hardly on the horizon and getting out of the city for a few days feels essential to your sanity. What you need is a mid-winter mini-break. A quick little jaunt to rejuvenate your spirit, nourish your soul and let the city stresses wash away.

Lucky you, you're just in time to enjoy quality wine and food in the Adelaide Hills at the Winter Reds Weekend returning 29-31 July 2016. Shrug off your jacket, shake your scarf free, settle in by the log fire and pour a warming glass of red and head for the hills this winter!

Be tempted by more than 30 Adelaide Hills wineries and venues offering cosy wine & food matching experiences and the opportunity to meet the maker and taste some epic Adelaide Hills wines.

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Here's our 5 must-visit Winter Reds events:

Bird in Hand
Celebrating ten years of Shiraz with a 5-course beef degustation paired with back vintage Shiraz showcasing the history of Bird in Hand Shiraz winemaking over a decade. Ticketed event - $95.00 pp
Bird in Hand - Cnr Bird in Hand & Pfeiffer Rds, Woodside
http://www.birdinhand.com.au/

Deviation Road

Our favourite little sparkling winemaker in the Hills and masters of the Sunday Session are hosting a Spanish themed lunch with warming Paella and live music as a backdrop to enjoying their award winning wines. Be quick and join the waitlist.
Deviation Road – 207 Scott Creek Rd, Longwood
http://www.deviationroad.com/

Golding Wines
Celebrating all things Pinot Noir with a fireside feast at Golding Wines. Taste current and back vintage Francis John Pinot matched with a five-course degustation menu by La Dolce Vita head chef Rob Paglia.
Ticketed event - $90.00 pp
Golding Wines – 52 Western Branch Rd, Lobethal
https://www.goldingwines.com.au/

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Longview Vineyard
Sit back, relax and enjoy an afternoon of BBQ, Blues and Back Vintage Reds at Longview Vineyard. Hurry, this one will book out!
Longview Vineyard – 154 Pound Rd, Macclesfield
http://www.longviewvineyard.com.au/

Mount Lofty House
Indulge in a wine dinner featuring Shaw + Smith wines and a 6-course degustation menu created by Executive Chef Girard Ramsay.
Ticketed event - $119 pp
Mount Lofty House – 74 Mt Lofty Summit Rd, Crafers
http://www.mtloftyhouse.com.au/

Break out of hibernation and visit one of these cosy wineries this winter. Browse the full Winter Reds events program here.

Book your Winter Reds Adelaide accommodation at alluxia.com and choose from our handpicked collection of luxury Adelaide accommodation.

Have you made plans to head to the hills for Winter Reds Weekend?

Image credit: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
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Jun
2

The Calyx – Sweet Addiction

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I must admit I don't know my Rhododendrons from my Hibiscus, but when I heard there was a new exhibition at The Royal Botanic Garden celebrating chocolate called 'Sweet Addiction" I thought, "I'm there!"

The Royal Botanic Garden is celebrating its 200th birthday by getting all modern and cool on us, launching Sydney's newest attraction The Calyx with the most delicious, sexy chocolate exhibition imaginable – Sweet Addiction.

The Calyx is the southern hemisphere's largest continuous green wall complete with 18,000 plants – just don't ask us to name them! By definition, the Calyx (pronounced kal-iks) is the green outer whorl that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a flower in bud, great name for this protective structure that will house ever-changing installations.

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Think of The Calyx as both a living art gallery and theatrical experience, an inspiring space that will capture your imagination and is quickly becoming Sydney's newest must-see attraction.

Sweet Addiction is the first exhibition to open in The Calyx. It's an interactive exhibition you can taste, touch, see, hear and smell exploring the journey of chocolate through the ages from plantation through the whole chocolate making process. Learn amazing facts about chocolate via a self-guided 45-minute experience on your smart phone, suitable for chocolate lovers of all ages.

This modern take on education and horticulture is bound to win over a new generation of advocates and inspire nature lovers.

Kudos to The Royal Botanic Garden for making horticulture educational and fun, all wrapped up in a colourful foil chocolate wrapper.

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Sweet Addiction runs until 17 April 2017 with interactive chocolate-themed events taking place throughout the exhibition period. The Royal Botanic Garden is also available for venue hire for your next unique event, wedding, picnic or garden party.

Sweet Addition 11 June 2016 – 17 April 2017
Royal Botanic Garden, Mrs Macquarie Road, Sydney
Open daily 10am-4pm
Online tickets available for $15.00

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Make a weekend of it in Sydney. We recommend a stay at Ovolo Woolloomooloo to continue your sweet addiction journey with free minibar, snacks and more. Ovolo Woolloomooloo is walking distance to The Calyx. Browse our handpicked collection of Sydney accommodation all available to book online with alluxia with no booking or credit card fees.

Love chocolate? Are you planning on going to Sweet Addiction at The Calyx? Love to read your comments below!

Images: Supplied
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Jun
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Best of Burleigh - Burleigh Heads Destination Guide

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Beautiful Burleigh is the destination of choice for laid-back locals and in-the-know travellers, who've discovered there's more to the Gold Coast than the glitter strip.

It's a beachside precinct with style and substance without pretension. Bustling James Street is at its heart, creating a cool café and fashionable retail hub with a breezy, laid-back beach vibe. What's not to love?

Foodies are flocking to Burleigh Heads for its growing list of culinary hot spots. It's home to beachfront coffee spots, casual cafes for brunching, fine diners for sophisticated long lunches and cool rooftop bars for sunset drinks.

Enjoy our tips for the best places to eat, drink and stay in Burleigh Heads!

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Where to Eat

Canteen Kitchen
Canteen Kitchen is our go-to spot for brunch in Burleigh. Tucked down a bustling arcade, you'll find this gem and its sister café next door, Canteen Coffee. Serving Middle Eastern inspired eats, we're a sucker for their avocado on sourdough toast with pistachio dukkah and Joseph olive oil. It's amazing what the team create out of this teeny-tiny kitchen!
Location: 3 Park Ave, Burleigh Heads

Urbanistar Burleigh
Further down the same arcade, if you need a little Free WiFi, this café is a great spot for our coffee loving, café hopping, laptop carrying friends. With an eclectic fitout featuring warm timbers, French Bistro chairs, pops of yellow from pendant lights, striped awnings and colourful mural all make for a cheery spot for an afternoon coffee.
Location: 21 Park Ave, Burleigh Heads

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The Fish House
It's worth travelling to Burleigh alone to experience a long lunch at The Fish House. The Fish House is one of the Gold Coast's most celebrated restaurants and for good reason. Top-notch service, stunning coastal setting and sophisticated seafood menu make for a memorable dining experience. For seafood-lovers, this is a must visit!
Location: 50 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads

Rick Shores
One of the newest additions to the Burleigh food scene, Rick Shores offers modern Asian dining, matched with one of the Gold Coast's most iconic locations. Perched absolute beachfront, you're in a prime position to admire the GC coastline and enjoy cuisine by Chef Ben Bertei and sip on coast inspired cocktails.
Location: 3/43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads

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Commune
Away from the beach and in an unassuming location on the Gold Coast Highway, settle in amongst the quirky furnishings for some retro-relaxing! Serving Campos Coffee and a side of sunshine, it's a fun spot for brunching on the GC.
Location: 1844 Gold Coast Hwy, Burleigh Heads

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Where to Drink

Justin Lane
With a brilliant rooftop bar, you simply can't go wrong at Justin Lane! With sunny skies and shady market umbrellas, enjoy an afternoon of killer cocktails, cool tunes and views of Burleigh Beach. If you linger longer, stay for handmade pizza and pasta, ideal for long, lazy summer days.
Location: 1708-1710 Gold Coast Hwy, Burleigh Heads

Ze Pickle
Opening its flagship store in Burleigh, Ze Pickle is all set to make waves in the burger-world having already opened outposts in Brisbane and Sydney. Grab a seat under the black and white striped awning and kick back with a coldie from a rotating selection of 12 craft beers on tap from around Australia and abroad.
Location: 1/37 Connor St, Burleigh Heads

Nook Espresso
For a fast caffeine fix, this hole in the wall coffee joint serves excellent coffee beachside in the cutest little Instagram worthy cups!
Location: 43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads

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Shop

Indiana
Our favourite store on the James Street strip, Indiana is inspired by luxe living and lifestyle with a beautiful curated collection of homewares and gifts. Indiana captures a chic, luxurious coastal style with Moroccan, Turkish and Indian influences.
Location: 3/52 James St, Burleigh Heads

Village
Another beautiful homewares store is Village. With a strong Moroccan influence there's a wide selection of decorator items, cushions, furniture, lighting and rugs on offer.
Location: 1/50-52 James St, Burleigh Heads

Urban Groove
Urban Groove is a cute gift shop oozing with character and charm, offering a great selection of fun, colourful homewares and gifts. Loved the gorgeous stationery and foiled prints by Papier d'Amour.
Location: 8 James St, Burleigh Heads

Big 'B' Books
Love this new and second hand book store brimming with a great selection of novels, perfect to discover your next beach read! Best of all they run a book exchange if you don't want to carry your book back home post-holiday.
Location: 16/50 James St, Burleigh Heads

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Where to Stay

Bujerum Apartments
The pick of where to stay in Burleigh has to be Bujerum Apartments. These designer apartments are in a boutique block of just 5 apartments, directly overlooking Burleigh Beach. Our favourite is the three bedroom penthouse, spacious, light and airy with long verandah to enjoy sundowners with friends or family.
Bujerum Apartments from $215 per night

Browse our full collection of Gold Coast accommodation and book online with no fees at alluxia.

Did we miss your favourite? Share your Burleigh Heads tips below!

Image credit: Canteen, Fish House, Rick Shores, Weekend Edition
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Jun
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Winter Getaways Two Ways!

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Love it or hate it, winter has well and truly hit Australia. Whether you long to flee the cold or embrace it with open arms, these winter getaways are sure to please.

Escape Winter

If your mood drops as fast as the mercury, pack your swimmers, sunscreen and Camilla kaftan and explore these warm-weather escapes.

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Whitsundays, QLD
With average temperatures in winter of 24 degrees, now is the time to head north for some Vitamin Sea! With 74 islands to explore, we suggest basing yourself in laid back Airlie Beach and immerse yourself in all things nautical with water activities including diving, snorkelling, cruising and a trip to Whitehaven Beach is a must-do.

Where to Stay: at Marina Shores has modern water view apartments from $230 per night.
Browse our handpicked collection of Whitsundays Accommodation.

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Sunshine Coast, QLD
Although winter is the coldest months Noosa and the Sunshine Coast experience, the conditions are relatively temperate ranging from 10-20 degrees. With sunny, clear skies and the water still warm enough to swim, it's easy to see why southerners flock to warm up and sun themselves beachside in winter.

Where to Stay: Fairshore Noosa offers absolute beachfront apartment style accommodation from $520 per night.
Browse our handpicked collection of Sunshine Coast Accommodation.

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Tropical North Queensland, QLD
Blessed with warm sunny days, low rainfalls and relatively low humidity, winter is the perfect season to enjoy all this region has to offer. Warm enough to swim all year round, the best swimming season is between April and October. By day, explore the rainforest or reef and by night relax and enjoy outstanding dining in Palm Cove and Port Douglas.

Where to Stay: Niramaya Villas & Spa for secluded luxury and indulgence from $599 per night.
Browse our handpicked collection of Tropical North Queensland Accommodation.

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Fraser Coast, QLD
There's no place like Hervey Bay for an up close whale watching experience and the best time to catch the action is between late July to November. Meanwhile, venture to World Heritage-listed Fraser Island or head to Seventy Five Mile Beach a registered beach highway, complete with shipwreck to explore.

Where to Stay: Seekia Holiday House from $290 per night is the perfect holiday house to share with friends and family.
Browse our handpicked collection of Fraser Coast Accommodation.

Embrace Winter

If you long for the chance to pull out your favourite winter coat or dream of snuggling by the fire; there is no shortage of ways to embrace the chill.

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Blue Mountains, NSW
Winter is a magical time to visit the Blue Mountains, with the chance of a little sprinkling of snow and Yulefest celebrations, where many venues offer a traditional Christmas feast. There's no shortage of cosy cottages with fireplaces to relax and enjoy.

Where to Stay: Mountain Whispers offer a range of cosy heritage houses from $360 per night.
Browse our handpicked collection of Blue Mountains Accommodation.

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Dandenong Ranges, VIC
Escape busy city life and head for the hills with a relaxing stay in the Dandenong Ranges. Explore eclectic villages softened by mist and a dusting of snow in winter. Plenty of walking and hiking to be done for those feeling adventurous, or simply relax fireside with a good book if you're more inclined.

Where to Stay: Twilight Cottage is a truly magical and delightful cottage from $295 per night.
Browse our handpicked collection of Dandenong Ranges Accommodation.

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Hobart, TAS
Hobart is the place to be in winter with the annual Dark Mofo festival celebrating the dark through large-scale public art, food, music and film. Uncover Hobart's food, wine and creativity at the various art galleries, bars and restaurants dotted throughout this picturesque city. Of course, MONA is a must-visit any time of year.

Where to Stay: Salamanca Wharf Hotel for a boutique stay harbourside from $205 per night
Browse our handpicked collection of Hobart Accommodation.

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Barossa Valley, SA
What better time to visit the Barossa than when you can indulge in some red wine fireside? Explore the wineries of the Barossa by day and dine in world-class restaurants by night, retreating to your cosy accommodation for a nightcap. Bliss.

Where to Stay: The Louise offers award-winning accommodation with onsite fine dining restaurant Appellation from $545 per night. Browse our handpicked collection of Barossa Valley Accommodation.

So, do you prefer to escape winter or embrace the winter chill? Where is your favourite winter destination?

Image credit: Tourism Whitsundays, PDDT, TEQ, Tourism Australia
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Jun
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Canberra Truffle Festival

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This coveted fungi certainly has an air of mystery about it and if you're a foodie then the Canberra Truffle Festival just might be for you.

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.

Currently in full swing, there are more than 250 events held across the region offering the opportunity to savour and experience the prized truffle. Events range from truffle hunts, degustation dinners, cooking classes and more.

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If you're a foodie and lover of truffles, then a truffle hunt is probably high on your bucket list. During the festival you can join a truffle hunt and watch these skilled truffle dogs in action, sniffing out the prized truffles. There are plenty of truffieres dotted around the Canberra region offering the opportunity to meet the growers, pat the dogs and get your hands dirty. Check the website for details.

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 during the season. Some highlights include Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar at Hotel Realm with a double baked comte soufflé & truffle. Another favourite, Joe's Bar at East Hotel is sneaking some truffle on the menu too.

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A highlight has to be the Truffle degustation package at Jamala Wildlife Lodge, a new addition to the alluxia collection. Your exclusive package includes:

• 5 course degustation menu including truffle inspired dishes including Champagne and premium French & Australian Wines
• Overnight accommodation in uShaka rooms at Jamala with dinner served upstairs in uShaka alongside the shark tank
• Private tour of the Canberra Truffle Farm

At the Canberra Truffle Farm learn about the history of the farm and watch the energetic truffle dogs in action as they harvest the truffles. The fungi are found in soil around Hazelnut and Oak trees at the Canberra Truffle Farm. Truffles can only be detected by their smell and while pigs have traditionally been used to sniff out these delicacies, they also tend to eat them, which has led some farmers to train dogs for the task. Jayson Mesman, owner of Canberra Truffle Farm has recruited a legion of eager pups for the task, adopted from nearby pounds.

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Hear this great story, experience a truffle hunt and dine on the delicious delicacy at Jamala Wildlife Lodge for $1,500 per night. Subject to availability, conditions apply. Package is available on Tuesdays from 7 June – 23 August 2016 (excluding Canberra school holidays 4-15 July) exclusively to guests in the uShaka Lodge. Book online here or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

The climate around the Canberra region is ideal for Black Winter Truffles as it is similar to the climate in Europe where the truffle originated. Warm to hot summers and cold winters with frosts are perfect for truffles. It's also the perfect weather for cosy winter getaways. Browse our handpicked Canberra accommodation options and book a truffle inspired winter getaway.

What are your tips to enjoy a foodie getaway in our nation's capital? Share your tips below; we'd love to hear from you!

Image credit: The Truffle Festival

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World Gin Day - Four Pillars Gin

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When visiting the Yarra Valley, Gin lovers can now rejoice by visiting the Four Pillars Gin Distillery, open daily to the general public. Just one hour from Melbourne, on the main street of Healesville is an inspired initiative by Four Pillars in what was an old timber merchant's shed, recently transformed to a craft gin distillery.

Inside it's an impressive space with the distillery on one side divided by a wall featuring portholes to the tasting area that you can peek through to see where the magic happens. There are plenty of tables for communal tasting, a long bar for mixing cocktails and a tasting station.

There's a few options for enjoying your experience at Four Pillars including straight gin tasting, gin tasting with mixers and cocktails at the bar.

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I opted for the serious straight gin tasting, my guide Izzy starts with a fascinating overview of the gin making process as we peer through the portholes at the shiny copper and stainless steel contraption where botanicals go in and herbaceous, citrus infused gin comes out. Each batch of gin takes around seven hours to distil.

I'm then taken through the range including discussing and smelling all the different botanicals that go into producing each gin. The two native botanicals largely used at Four Pillars are Tasmanian pepperberry and lemon myrtle, both in dry leaf form. We start with the Rare Dry Gin, which is the most common of the Four Pillars range and can be found in selected retailers across Australia. It's strong stuff, I'm not used to sipping gin straight!

Hold on to your (sailor) hats the next gin is the Navy Strength, a collaboration with Melbourne's Gin Palace at 58.5% alcohol it packs a punch with notes of ginger, turmeric, natives and finger limes from Byron Bay. You do notice it is stronger than the Rare Dry Gin at a paltry 41.8% alcohol. Interesting fact, did you know that over 55% alcohol spirits won't catch on fire?

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Next we try the Modern Australian Gin, made in association with Neil Perry to create an Asian-inspired modern Australian gin. Notes of red and green Szechuan give it a lovely warm mouthfeel, while macadamia nuts, Rose Glow apples, fresh tangelos, grapefruit peel and dry native quandong add fruit and lift.

The Spiced Negroni Gin is next in line and has been specifically made for mixing Negroni cocktails – perfect for Negroni Week! It's a highly aromatic and spicy gin with great power and intensity and features an exotic West African spice called Grains of Paradise. Who knew?

Lastly we try Cousin Vera's Gin, a collaboration with Spain's Santamania Destileria. You can just imagine how this gin came to life, with the makers hanging out in Spain for 3 days, testing and drinking gin - tough job but someone has to do it! This gin has a Tempranillo grape spirit base and a combination of Spanish and native Australian botanicals. Ziggy advises it's the perfect base for a Dirty Martini and we couldn't agree more!

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After a tasting, I feel incredibly well informed about the gin making process and a whole knew appreciation for that classic spirit gin, crafted in a thoroughly modern way by Four Pillars.

Walk-in gin tastings are available every day for $10 per person and refundable with purchase of any 700ml bottle of gin. Groups of 9 people or more are required to pre-book. You can also opt to relax and be guided through a tasting of 3 gins + tonic for $12 (non-refundable)

There's plenty of gin related gifts to buy here and it's a great setting to enjoy the perfect G&T. So on World Gin Day or any day in fact, a detour from Yarra Valley's food & wine trail to this Healesville Gin haven is a must.

Four Pillars Distillery
2a Lilydale Road, Healesville VIC 3777 ph: 03 5962 2791
Open Sunday-Thursday 10.30am-5.30pm, Friday and Saturday 10.30am-9.00pm
Check www.fourpillarsgin.com.au for more details.

Where to stay after all this gin drinking? We recently stayed at Wingspread Guesthouse and you can read the review here.

Image credit: Four Pillars, IG @alluxia

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Review Yarra Valley Cottage Wingspread

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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Ever wish you had friends with a stylish country estate with a separate Guesthouse all of your very own to enjoy? Well now you do! I'm sitting at the kitchen bench of Wingspread's main house sipping a gorgeous local Toolangi Pinot Noir and chatting with the owner Andrew while he prepares some canapés for us to devour – did I mention we just met 10 minutes ago?

That's the kind of warm welcome and country hospitality you can expect from a stay at Wingspread. Wingspread is the brainchild of Andrew & Keith, a Melbourne couple who were seeking a tree change to the Yarra Valley and found the perfect acreage overlooking the rolling hills of Mt Tanglefoot ranges.

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The pair slowly refurbished the original cottage and began construction of their dream home. The couple now live onsite in the main house separated from the cottage by an established garden and ready to welcome friends, family and guests to their patch of paradise.

Arriving at Wingspread feels like entering an exclusive retreat, the country gates emblazoned with the Wingspread moniker identify you've indeed arrived at the right place and with a few magic words, presto the automatic gates allow you entry to this hillside haven.

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Andrew welcomes me to Wingspread and provides a tour of the cottage, which is all ready for my arrival. I'm then graciously invited to join my charming hosts for a sunset drink at the main house. Andrew does a fantastic job as host, a world away from his highflying accounting career, accompanied by Keith who is more in his comfort zone given his previous hotel background and clearly thrives on providing hospitality to guests.

The main house, which is sadly not available for rent is however incredible. Designed with inspiration from architect Frank Lloyd Wright and has been featured in Grand Designs Magazine for good reason.

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On this trip, I'm travelling solo, so am pleased to be welcomed into their home for some warm hospitality, great wine, good food and sparkling company. I'm sure it would be a different story if you were on a romantic getaway and no doubt the hosts would identify which guests are keen for wine chats and who'd prefer to be left alone and retreat to the cottage.

Entry to the cottage is via the conservatory, a great space that would be ideal in the warmer months, filled with sofas and sun beds spilling out to the deck.

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Inside the cottage, the kitchen is well stocked with everything you could possibly need for your getaway. There are plans to renovate the kitchen, which will give the whole cottage a more luxurious finish, however the current kitchen is perfectly presentable and functional.

The dining area, in a leafy corner off the kitchen has plenty of windows to let in natural light and provide views of the well-maintained gardens. I love the corrugated iron feature, giving the cottage a rustic luxe feel.

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The open plan design leads to the lounge area, which has a real wood-burning fireplace as its feature. Leading out further is the back terrace, offering yet another peaceful space to rest with outdoor setting and BBQ.

Wingspread cottage has two bedrooms, each with queen size beds and luxury bed linen with bright Marimekko accents. Turndown chocolates are a nice touch and are from nearby Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, which is worth a visit.

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Breakfast is a quality affair, with generous gourmet provisions including orange juice, milk, local jam, fresh bread and incredible local strawberries. The K&B Muesli is so delicious I'm kicking myself for not heading back to the store to purchase a take home pack.

Toolangi is located about 20 minutes from Healesville and is therefore an easy base to access the local shops, cafes and wineries, however you may elect just to stay in for the evening given the cosy surrounds and fully equipped kitchen. I took the cosy option and stopped by earlier in the day at Healesville Kitchen and Butcher (K&B) and purchased a pre-prepared lasagne that only required simple reheating in the oven. It was the most marvellous idea, as the lasagne was rich & luxurious and was the perfect accompaniment to a local Pinot Noir fireside for a wintery night in.

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There is however much to do and enjoy in the Yarra Valley and Wingspread is a great base to explore the region. A few dining options to check out include new kid on the block Alchemy (pictured above), an ideal brunch spot. Alchemy has a great vibe, cool tunes (digging Benobo) and their chilli scrambled eggs were sensational. Mocha & Lime is a homestyle, rustic café that is also a great brunch spot. On our recent visit I dropped by and had a delicious mushroom soup that was warming and incredibly satisfying. Healesville Hotel is a great option for casual fare or try their dining room for something more substantial.

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Given the magnificent wineries in the region, I'd suggest having an indulgent long lunch and then a simple regional platter for dinner back at Wingspread. Some of the wineries offering top notch dining include Levantine, Oakridge, TarraWarra and Rochford. All have stunning settings and Oakridge offers an Express Menu including 2 courses and a glass of cellar door exclusive wine, plus tea & coffee for $45 or 3 courses for $55. With incredible cuisine by chef Matt Stone, it's hard not to sit back and indulge in the full 3 courses.

Being welcomed to Wingspread like old friends and enjoying premium hospitality in a picturesque country setting is hard to beat and it's the kind of place you won't want to leave or at least vow to return soon.

Wingspread is available for $250 per night midweek or $300 per night weekend for two guests, extra $100 per night for a second couple utilising the second bedroom.

Images: @alluxia

The writer was a guest of Wingspread.
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Hervey Bay Holiday House Seekia Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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International travellers have been flocking to the Fraser Coast in recent years for its natural beauty, whale watching adventures and frolicking on Fraser Island. However, it's the bayside beauty of Hervey Bay that gets my vote for a relaxing weekend getaway.

Hervey Bay is an easy 3.5-hour road trip from Brisbane or you can simply fly into Hervey Bay Airport. Interstate travellers have largely overlooked this resort town for more fashionable locations, however with its relaxed atmosphere, sunny climate and great value surely the tide is about to turn?

The bayside town is still sleepy enough, despite growing tourism to the Fraser Coast, but that's essentially part of its charm. Rundown Queenslanders, desperately in need of a paint job and a little TLC, sit alongside modern resorts and low-rise apartments all twinkling in the Queensland sunshine.

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One such house to receive its fair share of TLC is Seekia in Urangan. This modern 3-bedroom holiday house sits smartly a few blocks from The Esplanade in an unassuming quiet suburban street. Beautifully renovated, it's furnished in funky, bright colours to really put you in that holiday mood.

The owners have embraced an open plan design for Seekia, with plenty of louvre windows and French doors to catch the sea breezes. Central to the house is the newly renovated kitchen, featuring bright red splashbacks and island bench for friends and family to gather for meals. It's incredibly well equipped, with large 6 burner stove top, stainless steel double sided fridge with ice machine, coffee machine and even a blender.

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The kitchen opens out to a wonderful outdoor deck and alfresco dining area with BBQ. The huge backyard beyond is ideal for the little ones to run around and play and as the house is also pet friendly, ideal for dogs, plus ample parking for cars, boats and all the kid's toys. In the far corner of the garden is a chook pen, where you can collect fresh eggs and pick herbs from the garden for the freshest omelette and brekkie creations.

Seekia can actually be booked as a 1, 2 or 3 bedroom holiday house, which makes it appealing to couples, families or groups. The rates are based on two guests and it's just $50pp thereafter.

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The master bedroom is light & bright with king bed and new en-suite. The second bedroom features another king bed and the third bedroom has twin beds all with bright artwork on the walls. A second modern bathroom has a shower, while there is a separate bathhouse out back boasting a claw foot bath for total relaxation.

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The family will be happy and entertained with Foxtel, DVD and two 50" TV's, one in the lounge room and one in the adjoining sunroom. There's free WiFi too to keep connected and Instagram your Hervey Bay adventures.

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There's plenty to see and do in Hervey Bay, offering the world's closest whale watching encounters with humpback whales as well as easy access to the eco-paradise of Fraser Island. Sunny Queensland weather ensures year round swimming, diving, sailing, water sports and fishing. If you're looking for something more relaxed, kick back in the many cafes and restaurants along the Esplanade or marina.

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I managed to hunt down Hervey Bay's best coffee at School House Espresso. It's away from the main tourist area in a local shopping/business area, however you'll be glad you found it. Ultra friendly baristas, super cute interiors and strong coffee using premium beans make it a must visit. It's the collaboration of My Kitchen Rules winners Dan & Steph and coffee supremo Tim Adams, so you can be assured of some high quality food & coffee at this hidden gem.

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Venture out for a long lunch at The Vinyard, a fantastic new restaurant and wine bar overlooking the water. Originally conceptualised more as a wine bar, popularity has grown for it's delicious share plates making it a dining destination in its own right. We tried the crispy pork belly with palm sugar glaze, apple and fennel pickle and Zap fried calamari dusted in lemon pepper and paprika with red cabbage, coriander, mint salad and aioli which were both sensational.

Another great spot for divine dining is Coast Restaurant & Bar for stylish seaside dining and coastal cool cocktails. Their menu puts the spotlight firmly on local produce paired with inventive flavours. It's impossible to go past Hervey Bay scallops and save room for something sweet for dessert. Personally, we can't go past the killer espresso martinis!

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Hervey Bay is no longer Queensland's secret getaway, it's ready for everyone to enjoy a piece of paradise and Seekia is the perfect base for a family holiday of fun in the sun.

Seekia Hervey Bay Holiday House is available to book online at alluxia with rates from $290 per night based on 6 guests. Minimum 2-night stay during low season and 4 night minimum stay in peak season.

The writer was a guest of Seekia.
 
Images: IG @patriciagadd, IG @alluxia
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10 Essential Travel Packing Hacks

Posted on in Travel Tips

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No matter the length of the trip – be it a weekend getaway or week long beach holiday, you'll need to pack a bag and you'll want to pack it right. Whether you're concerned about saving space or luggage size restrictions to comply with airlines, organising all your belongings can seem like an impossible feat.

Personally, we're a lover of packing light – its carry-on baggage all the way for the alluxia crew! We also travel frequently, so it's easy to pack quickly with these tips.

Here is our Top 10 Essential Travel Packing Hacks:

1. Packing List
We love a good packing list; it saves time and prevents you from forgetting everything from your mobile phone charger to reminding you to pack an umbrella if the forecast looks rainy.

2. Roll, don't fold
You've heard it all before and that's because it's true, rolling your clothes instead of folding saves on space and prevents clothes from wrinkling. A great trick is to do both. Roll the clothes you wish to keep wrinkle-free and fold the thicker items.

3. Bottom heavy
Try and pack the heaviest items closest to the wheels of your suitcase, that way the weight is distributed to the bottom and makes it easier to roll and avoids tipping over.

4. Champagne Stopper
Maybe I'm outing myself as a bit of wino here, but I like to travel with a Champagne stopper – hold the laughter please... Whether you're travelling to a city hotel and can't finish that welcome bottle of bubbly or heading to a wine region, it's a handy little inclusion! Trust me.

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5. Bubble Wrap
It sounds silly, but pack bubble wrap in your suitcase for the things you'll undoubtedly buy on your trip, so they're safe in your luggage for the return journey. I cut to the chase and pack a wine skin – I know the fragile item I'm going to buy is going to be wine...

6. Capsule Wardrobe
Unless you're a serious fashionista, there's no need to pack an extensive wardrobe when you're travelling. Break it down to a capsule wardrobe – a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers and coats which can be augmented with seasonal pieces or "show pony" items as Styling You would say.

7. Air your dirty laundry
Travel with a mesh laundry bag. It helps separate dirty clothes from clean, keeps your clothes off the hotel floor and makes it handy if your apartment or holiday house has a laundry.

8. Check the website
Just before you pack, double check online the hotels inclusions. Does it have a DVD player? Pack some chick flicks for your holiday. Booked a room with a bath? Pack a refillable bottle with your favourite bubble bath. Resort has a pool? Don't forget your togs. Have a favourite tea? Pack a few sachets to enjoy a calming cup of tea before bed.

9. Choose the right hotel
Some hotels are super clever and offer lots of handy extras. Alex Perry Hotel, already a favourite with female traveller for offering exclusive designer toiletries, ghd styling tools, personal garment steamers and satin hangers, has recently introduced the "Girlfriends Handbag" a stash of essential items you might have forgotten. Think OPI Nail Polish, Tweezers, Footlets, Heel Shields, Party Feet, Blister Packs, Sanitary Items, Deodorant, Stockings, Hairspray, Lip Balm and more. These items are always stocked and available from the friendly guest services team – from Hollywood Tape to Bobby Pins, they've got you covered - how handy is that!

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10. Luggage Scale
Since airlines have really cracked down on luggage weight, I often travel with a luggage scale, which really takes the guesswork out of whether or not your bag weighs too much. It helps you decide whether to sneak that extra item in or whether you need to pre-book an extra luggage allowance. I use a handheld luggage scale by Skylite, but there are plenty on the market.

Do you have some travel packing secrets you can share with our readers? I'd love to hear from you, leave your tips in the comments below!

You Might Also Like: What to Pack for a Summer Holiday

 

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No Time to Research? Here's How to Pick the Perfect Getaway

Posted on in Travel Tips

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In the early days of alluxia, I was conducting site inspections of Byron Bay houses and unique accommodation to start our collection and met with the charming owner of a relatively well-known property.

As the owner took us on a tour of the property, I was really underwhelmed and disappointed. The property looked tired, the furnishings looked old and not particularly fashionable. The rooms in the main house were oddly constructed like an afterthought and one room was even more like a pool cabana than any type of luxury accommodation.

My instincts said this property was not up to standard, but the owner kept regaling us with stories about all the happy guests they have, that their return guest rate was really high and showed us all the positive and high scoring reviews they'd been receiving on Tripadvisor.

It really felt like an Emperors New Clothes kind of moment. The Hans Christian Andersen tale is about two weavers who promise the emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say they don't see any suit of clothes until a child cries out "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

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As I toured the property, I didn't dare tell the homeowner that I thought their property was of inferior quality, didn't look at all luxe, and I worried maybe I was stupid for thinking this? Maybe it was just me? Maybe it just wasn't to my style or minimalist aesthetic, a bit more country style perhaps, that others might love?

The property owner then outlined a plan that they'd like me to arrange a media visit to showcase the property with a review in one of Australia's leading publications. I was nervous, but as they'd been in business far longer than me, ran a successful business, was on the local tourism board and had a great reputation, they must be right so I reluctantly agreed to make the arrangements.

Nervously the date drew near and the journalist looked forward to their weekend getaway. They'd seen the photos online and thought the retreat looked great! The journalist checked in and I got the dreaded phone call. Essentially the journalist cried out "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" or more to the point, "this retreat is not luxury and we're checking out straight away".

The journalist kindly agreed not to write the review, as it would have been a really bad one but the property owner demanded a positive review or payment for the stay. After careful negotiations, we agreed to part ways and the property was immediately removed from our website and no review surfaced. You can still book this property today on all other major travel websites and a quick check confirms this property continues to receive only positive reviews on TripAdvisor as recently as last week.

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What we've learned though, is to trust our gut, our instincts and intuition and ensure only the best of the best makes it to the alluxia collection. That was four years ago, and we've continued to navigate some difficult conversations with owners who wanted their property to appear on alluxia, but we felt just wasn't the right "fit". That's why we continue to travel Australia, staying and inspecting each property with our secret little checklist to independently verify each holiday house or hotel for quality. No one wants to be caught out naked again!

Have you had any experiences where what you've booked online just wasn't reality?

BTW - pictured in the story is some of our quality Byron Bay accommodation which we've visited and can verify are deluxe and delightful!! Not the inferior one mentioned (obviously!) 

Image credit: Vantage, ITSecurityGuru, LaVista
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Marilyn Monroe Exhibition Bendigo

Posted on in Travel Tips

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If Bendigo hasn't previously been on your travel hit list, then it should be. This grand Victorian regional centre manages to attract world-class exhibitions, and the latest offering is not to be missed! The incredible Marilyn Monroe exhibition is currently showing at the Bendigo Art Gallery until 10 July 2016.

Marilyn remains one of the most celebrated and enigmatic film stars in the history of cinema. This comprehensive exhibition brings together more than twenty of her original film and performance costumes, her personal affects and numerous dresses and accessories from Marilyn's personal wardrobe.

The groundbreaking collaboration between Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox allows unprecedented access to twelve of Marilyn's films, including glamorous studio portraits and film posters. Curated by Bendigo Art Gallery, the costumes, personal clothing and artefacts have been drawn from private collections around the world and have never before been seen in Australia.

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Stay a few days and explore Bendigo. There's plenty to see and do in this vibrant regional centre whether you're holidaying with kids or sans kids looking for a relaxed weekend getaway, Bendigo is a great cultural destination. Dine at award winning restaurants, browse shopping precincts and boutiques, relive the gold rush by visiting the nearby attractions and taste wines and produce from local farms & vineyards.

Bendigo is 90 minutes from Melbourne and there are some delightful towns to stop at along the way or simply take your time and explore the region. Bendigo has a great deal of history, particularly from the gold rush period which is evident in the wealth of beautiful buildings and monuments to view, including the current enormous statue of Marilyn Monroe. Bendigo Art Gallery secured Seward Johnson's iconic eight metre tall sculpture called "Forever Marilyn" which has previously been seen in Chicago and Palm Springs, USA and makes its international debut in Bendigo.

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Where to Eat in Bendigo

For fine dining, try Masons of Bendigo Nestled under a chic black awning on Queen Street in the heart of Bendigo's bustling CBD you'll find a modern, sophisticated restaurant with a welcoming relaxed ambience.

Rocks on Rosalind is housed in the historic National Bank walls overlooking beautiful Rosalind Park and the Alexandra Fountain. The impressive restaurant features the original stone clad vault, high ceilings and large arched windows. Or head to Rocks Underground with leather chesterfield private booths, plush velvet chairs and ottomans to chill out and enjoy a late night drink.

Head to The Dispensary to enjoy a cocktail or two, located in hip Chancery Lane. The Dispensary is also offering a "Some Lunch it Hot" two course lunch with glass of boutique wine for $40pp (Tuesday-Saturday) during the duration of the Marilyn Monroe exhibition, which sounds like the perfect post-exhibition plan.

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Where to Stay in Bendigo
If you're heading to Bendigo to experience some art & culture then you must stay at Art Series Hotel - The Schaller Studio. Drawing from the artistic and cultural overtones of Bendigo, The Schaller Studio is inspired by Australian artist Mark Schaller's working studio. With large edgy communal spaces, rooms filled with original artwork, large-scale sculptures and mosaics across the landscaped gardens, it's a truly inspiring hotel. Rooms from $145 per night.

Marilyn Monroe exhibition from Saturday 5 March until Sunday 10 July 2016 and is open daily at Bendigo Art Gallery. Adult exhibition ticket prices $25.00 with family passes and concession tickets available. Click here for details and ticket information.

Plan your winter mini-break in Bendigo and see the Marilyn Monroe Exhibition. Book The Schaller Studio online at alluxia with no booking or credit card fees and best rate guarantee.

Have you been to Bendigo lately? Tell us what you love or what we should add to the list of what to see and do in Bendigo.

Image credit: Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo Advertiser, Masons
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QT Gold Coast Review

Posted on in Check In: Review of the Month

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I have a confession to make; I'm falling a little bit more in love with the Gold Coast, every time I visit. In recent years, the GC has received a bad rap in the media, particularly Surfers Paradise, but we saw none of that on our recent trip. So, if you're looking for a great night out with friends and fun in the sun, then you'll find it here on the GC!

QT Gold Coast simply invites you to have fun. From the moment you arrive, you're greeted with fun, vibrant interiors of kooky clashing colours & patterns, plus retro clad staff - I don't really know what the designers were thinking, but it totally works. The feel is of pure joyfulness, it makes you smile, instantly relax and with Queensland's tropical weather and salty air, you're ready to unwind and hit the beach.

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Joined on this trip by interstate friends, we've gathered on the Gold Coast for some birthday celebrations and I couldn't think of a better location to mark the occasion. While it's only a short one-night escape, the relaxing vibe of QT makes it feel like a much longer getaway.

The whole hotel is seriously Instagram worthy, and thanks to free WiFi that's a cinch. Quirky at every turn, from the bold black and yellow striped carpet leading to our room, creative decals in the lift of life-size vintage pinup girls (which gave me a fright EVERY time thinking there was someone already there) to the colourful lolly buffet in Fixx, it's a rush!

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Then of course there's the view. My room was generously proportioned with a dazzling view of the ocean – tick! Ideal for celebrating, we popped some Champagne and settled in for an afternoon shooting the breeze and watching the changing scenery as sunset descended on the glitter strip.

A standard room is anything but here, injected with QT fun in every corner. The minibar is more maxi bar with a cool selection of goodies plus mini charades; boxed domino set, an instant beach ball and an emergency bowtie, no less. Hanging on the wall too is a beach bag and thongs for guests use.

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A functional long desk resides along one wall with a separate table and chairs adorned with some decorative knick-knacks and a pineapple candle which I loved, I'm a sucker for pineapple anything! Fix yourself a signature QT lemonade from the ingredients supplied; this hotel's wow factor is actually all in the little details. How cute is my beach themed welcome amenity too?

The king size bed was huge and squishy, like a cloud and the bedside table had a kitschy cockatoo lamp, available to purchase from the QTique gift shop.

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The bathroom is cleverly designed with a striking feature wall of monochrome tiles and the simplicity of adding some colourful touches to the vanity give it ticks for creativity. Amenities were from New York label Malin + Goetz and bathtubs are available in the QT King Suites if you choose to upgrade.

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We headed out for dinner to Tribeca NYC a mere $6 Uber ride away on Chevron Island. Maybe it was all the Champagne we'd downed at the QT, but we could have sworn our handsome waiter Karlo bore a striking resemblance to Game of Thrones Jon Snow and we proceeded to tell him as such (groan). Tribeca NYC naturally serves American fare and we asked the affable Karlo to order for us. He was spot on ordering a selection of plates to share including loaded fries, calamari, sliders and fish tacos for the win. Highly recommend and I hear they make a sensational lychee martini too!

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The city was surprisingly quiet, maybe being a Thursday night and a gentle rain kept people inside, it certainly wasn't the raucous GC you see on the news. Instead, it was the perfect backdrop to a night of good food, fine wine and celebrating great friendship. Returning to the QT we indulged in a nightcap at Stingray Bar, which is pleasingly popular with both locals and travellers.

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Next morning, it was up at sunrise for an invigorating walk along the beach, a mere block away from the QT. Honestly, there's no better way to start the day. Working up an appetite, breakfast at Bazaar is not to be missed. Designed as an interactive marketplace it's styled to perfection from the dining area to the serving area and not a bain-marie in sight! Think Le Creuset pots filled with bubbling deliciousness, a first class egg station, super cute juice station, seriously the options are endless.

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Our brief stay didn't allow time for pampering in SpaQ, dining in Yamagen or mooching around the pool, so what better reason to return! Whether you're celebrating with friends, looking for a quick romantic getaway or plan to linger longer for a Gold Coast holiday, QT has you covered for fun in sun in signature QT style. We'll definitely be back!

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Planning a Gold Coast holiday? Book QT Gold Coast online at alluxia with no booking or credit card fees or ask us any questions about our stay.

Have you stayed at QT Gold Coast before? How was your experience?

The writer was a guest of QT Gold Coast.
Image credit @alluxia @troybe
 

You Might Also Like: Review Q1 Gold Coast

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