Gibraltar Country Club Hotel and Spa in Australia's Southern Highlandsis a stylishly modern Sydney city escape, set amongst rolling greenery, sunlit lakes and lush pines. Of (golf) course - It also happens to be a golfers paradise! Gibraltar Country Club Hotel & Spa is located in Bowral - an antique town, filled with arty people and scenic views. Annual flower shows bring yearly visitors to what is considered one of the prettiest café and garden communities in Australia. Gibraltar Country Club Hotel & Spa, easy to find, is enormous on sight. Perched majestically on a beautiful golf field, it's easy to see why not only golfers are attracted to weekends away here. Quite modernly styled, Gibraltar Country Club Hotel & Spa has only recently opened - meaning everything in the vicinity is new and shiny. Friendly staff greet you at reception with a guided tour of the grounds. Adorning the walls is a collection of mostly Australian themed etchings, paintings and drawings - hand selected by the hotel owner. An owner, who clearly has design taste, for he played a large role in the entire hotel décor. Simple stylish elegance and comfort are designed into your stay. Spacious rooms face directly out to the golf course landscape, with artwork, heavenly bed, large deluxe spa bath, flat screen TV and all the typical modern trimmings highlighting your happiness. Restaurant and bar In-room dining is available, or dine at the Gibraltar Grill, where a perfectly cooked succulent steak awaits - if you choose, from the grill. Meet the locals at Harvey's Bar on weekends. The Gym New equipment is decked out in the gym, including exercise bike, treadmill and weights. Rolled towels and reclining lounge give that added hotel glamour, and an indoor heated pool is perfect if you've spent the day on the course. What a great way to unwind! Weddings & Business trips Enormously high ceilinged conference rooms are available for functions and weddings, if your trip is for this reason - you are in for a treat. All function rooms look out over the magnificent golfing grounds. Sip your tea, and watch the sun catch light from the duck's favorite lake, while your meetings are underway. Day Spa The hotel spa is appropriately named The Bowral Day Spa. Appropriate that is, because you will want to spend all day here. Walking into a low-lit lounge to fill in your information-form and sip detoxing tea, your therapist soon escorts you to a personal room for changing. It's the little details like a soft lux dressing gown and slippers which make such a difference! Treatments compliment natural surroundings by embracing ancient indigenous techniques and products, as inspired in the Australian LI'TYA range. LI'TYA uses mud powders, local infused oils like lemon myrtle or bush rose. Serenading your senses are ancient indigenous chants set to modern beats and piano sounds. At your choice, treatment will begin with a welcoming smoking ceremony from Australian bush barks. I tried the hot stone massage on my visit. Stones from the west of Australia's land have been hand crafted, and are heated to 38 degrees before the therapists glides them over my body, kneading away any tension and inducing a relaxed state of mind. Pure Bliss! Nearby Vineyards The Southern Highlands region, being one of Australia's most picturesque tourist destinations, wouldn't be complete without quintessential romantic vineyards scattered throughout. I visited the Centennial Vineyards for a spot of wine tasting, with afternoon lunch at the Centennial Vineyards Restaurant. A dessert wine aptly named 2009 Autumn Late Harvest Chardonnay, (which yes, I selected because of my namesake!) won numerous awards and accidently found itself purchased by me for later consumption! Well, who could resist sweet wine offering a beautifully balanced palette of white peach, nectarine, and subtle caramel/vanilla aromas! The Centennial Vineyards Restaurant offers European barn style elegance; with high beams, antique farming equipment and wagon wheel props embedded in the decor to create an amazingly charismatic ambience. Dine on fine delicacies, I recommend The signature Highland tasting platter, as you glance out a window showing baby lambs and sheep roaming sunlit vineyards. Illawarra Flyover Imagine walking through the tallest of age-old trees at extraordinary heights!The Illawarra Flyover is a 45-minute walking track raised up in the air, set inside a beautiful tropical rainforest stretch. First take a peaceful stroll through the flora and fauna at land height, soaking in nature. Then embrace your innerCrouching Tiger Hidden Dragon for the ascent into the air. If you love views, climb the central tower to experience a magnificent sight of rolling green hills and leafy green forest, which stretches out to the distant ocean. Not for those who experience vertigo, as sometimes the footpath moves with the breeze...however all the more fun for the slight thrill-seekers among us! Getting there: The Southern Highlands are an easy hour and a half away from Sydney city; unless you're travelling at peak ‘weekend escape time' being 6pm Friday night, in which case definitely include traffic time in your itinerary. Or opt for the easy 2-hour train rides which stops in the heart of Bowral town. Services spa, swimming pool, fitness equipment, parking, hotel restaurant, hotel bar, room service, business services, internet access, golf course, tennis courts, air-conditioning BOOK NOW
The Marriott hotel’s Lattouf hair and day spa, on Australia’s sparklingGold Coast in Queensland, combines an intoxicating infusion of the senses in order to create a perfect signature candle therapy massage. The Marriott hotel’s Lattouf hair and day spa is where amazing aromas, serene sounds and magical massage become like art. Located in the heart of Surfers Paradise, the Marriott hotel sits on a glistening canal. If you arrive early, you might perch on a comfortable outdoor sofa to enjoy a moment of recreated tropical paradise within a city of sun. Or perhaps, seat yourself inside and soak in the elegance with air-chilled interiors. Lattouf Spa is located on the level 1, accessed only by lift, along with a state of the art gymnasium. The spa offers an abundance of hair indulgences and relaxing spa treatments, plus Jacuzzi, steam-room and sauna within a lovely five-star setting. Antique wooden doors and burning candles frame Lattouf’s spa entrance, to immediately induce in guests a sublime relaxation state within the beauty den. On arrival, friendly staff will seat you, offer a soothing tea such as peppermint and liquorice, take your details, and escort you to a candle filled oasis treatment room - or into the modern hair salon, depending on the booking. I enjoyed a Lattouf signature treatment; the pure Lattouf candle massage for intense hydration. A melon and fig infused candle was melted into oil, then expertly massaged and absorbed into my skin. While the candle aroma lingered, meditative soft tunes played on in background. Candle therapy works well for unwinding, with gliding elbows and kneeding hands on pressure points all the more smooth and sensual. Guests choose the candle scent to be burnt during massage. On offer are Lattouf exclusive aroma’s such as vanilla cinnamon and clove, or lemon and green tea, or Patchouli, aniseed, with ylang ylang – sounds like a hard decision? It is. I recommend The Marriott Hotel Lattouf Hair & Spa to anyone seeking a spa which sparkles - a purely relaxing and indulgent day on the Gold Coast of Australia. Contact tel: 1300 36 3737 Services spa, swimming pool, fitness equipment, near beach, parking, hotel restaurant, concierge, air-conditioning BOOK NOW
Pulling into the driveway at Merribrook Retreat in Western Australia's glorious Margaret River region, a forgotten yet welcome wholesome feeling takes over. Rolling onto the dirt track sidelined by virgin forest we come across a sign pointing to reception, even though we haven't spotted a single other building yet. Originally-owned and hosted boutique accommodation, Merribrook Retreat is perched on 160 acres of natural bushland, maintaining its private, luxurious and escapist vibe with just 10 architecturally-designed villas on offer. Warmly greeted by Lorraine and Richard, who founded Merribrook in 1984 and built it from ground up over the years to follow, we are immediately made to feel welcome and easily make ourselves at home. Despite being located just off a main road and close to wineries, galleries and townships, the retreat is perfectly set in a peaceful valley where the sounds of birds, insects and frogs provide a peaceful backing track and kangaroos freely hop through the grounds. The true beauty of Merribrook Retreat however lies in its ability to be exactly the kind of holiday you are longing for, whatever that may be. It's the perfect base to explore the Margaret River region's tourist hotspots, as well as a remote sanctuary for those wanting to completely escape all that bustle. It functions as a beautiful conference, training and team-building site, and for those seeking an active holiday there are many peaceful trails to walk, winding roads to ride and beautiful oceans to swim nearby.
Common luxuries for all With only 10 villas to share all common facilities between, it's not hard to find yourself a quiet spot to relax in. Boasting the largest private pool in the district - 20 metres long and solar-heated - as well as a gorgeous spa with starry sky views and a Swedish sauna, be sure to pack your bathers. If you find water more relaxing to look at than to swim in, the retreat is perfectly perched on a slope overlooking a freshwater lake, with views from all around the grounds. A small deck and chairs await by the lake, while there's plenty of grass to picnic on. The Lakeside Lodge, surrounded by beautiful gardens, is a great place to seek respite from your room during an extended stay. The lovely outside verandah overlooks the lake whilst inside it feels much like a warm and cosy ski lodge. You'll find books and DVDs to borrow and tea and coffee making facilities for any time of the day. In the winter, there's even an open wood fire to curl up by. Kitchen facilities and breakfast If you aren't heading out to sample the local restaurants at night, a fully stocked commercial kitchen - and a BBQ on the verandah - is available for guest use. Breakfast however is included. That you will be thankful for. Consisting of a starter buffet of fresh seasonal fruits, cereals, muesli, toast, pancakes, muffins and sweet breakfast loaves, a few different options for a cooked breakfast follows. Locally roasted Yahava coffee and speciality teas are also served. A villa for every occasion Merribrook's Lakeview Deluxe Villa provides a high level of comfort for two. It boasts a private verandah and ceiling-to-floor glass offering uninterrupted views over the freshwater lake. Features include a Queensize bed and daybed, exquisite bathroom facilities and a deep double bathtub, and a fan and heating for temperature control. The Forest Edge Garden Villa suits those looking to bring a few extra people. Recently refurbished, these villas are set amongst beautiful gardens and orchards. Features include a Queensize bed and single daybed in the bedroom, as well as a table and chairs alongside a Queensize bed and single daybed in the main room. It also has a modern bathroom and heating. The Luxury Lakehouse is Merribrook's answer to your perfect romantic weekend away. Situated well away from the rest of the retreat, and with its own private driveway entrance, full privacy is guaranteed. Fully self-contained, the Luxury Lakehouse boasts its own outdoor starlit spa bath, a natural outdoor shower, and a private deck with BBQ facilities overlooking a small lake. It also features plenty of living space including a couch and kitchen, a Japanese-inspired bathroom, Kingsize bed, reverse cycle air-conditioning, and beautiful robes, candles and flowers to set the scene. If you should wish to leave your hidey hole, breakfast is still included at The Lodge. All rooms feature a CD and DVD player, iPod dock, small fridge, tea and coffee making facilities. Private massage and pampering services are also available in your villa, which are very popular. It's advised to book ahead. Take a stroll near or far A three-kilometre walking/running circuit brings the chance to see more of the Merribrook property if you're feeling active or looking to immerse yourself in nature. Stroll past lakes, mature cork oak, olive and stonepine plantations, and if you want to bring your own bike, you can even ride the track. For the serious walker, consider the Rails to Trails Track, a five minute drive away, as well as the Cape to Cape Track from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, accessible just four kilometres away. Merribrook Retreat offers Cape to Cape Walking Escape Accommodation Packages, which includes pickup and dropoff each day of your self-guided walk. Local grooves around Margaret River From the beautiful coastline to the fresh green forests, and with many charming towns in between, the Margaret River region is world-famous. A prime wine-producing district, there are some 200 vineyards and 90 wineries to choose between, as well as a number of quality cheese and chocolate factories. Crowds also flock here to experience some of the best surf along the West Australian coastline. Top-notch restaurants, galleries, and arts and crafts outlets also add character to the region. If you plan to really explore, consider buying the Margaret River Gold Pass to get the best value out of your Margaret River holiday. Armstrong Road 114, Cowaramup, WA, Australia Contact tel: +61 (0)8 9755 5599, fax: +61 (0)8 9755 5081 Services pool, sauna & steam, massage BOOK NOW