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The Palazzo Versace is a truly sumptuous, luxury olde worlde hotel located on the Southport Spit, at Main Beach on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Situated next to a high end shopping area with cosy little restaurants overlooking the waters of Southport.
Concierges will greet you as you enter the main reception area with a huge crystal chandelier overhead in the domed ceiling... glance around at bold ornate italianate styling, listen to a smart young pianist serendading romantic classics on the grand piano, and be at the service of friendly international staff in starched uniforms flitting about looking highly professional. The large circular stone entrance has a grand feel of pomp and circumstance as you are greeted by valet parking and that certain quiet prestige. A wonderful mix of well-heeled, cultured people from all over the world will be lounging around looking dressed for success, with apparently the occasional celebrity thrown in. Stand amist a statement of opulence and look out to a large artificial beach backdrop through floor to ceiling glass walls as your view.
Just saying you are staying at the Versace hotel gives a bit of klout, the hotel has such history and is symbolic of old wealth and decadence to many. Although much of the furniture and fittings are perhaps "over the top" to some, and reek of an age when wealthy people flaunted their wealth, the Palazzo Versace is unashamedly celebrating class and the finer things in life - so why not just go with it!
Experience the glamour of Noosa with a chilled view from historic accommodation at Halse Lodge
Halse Lodge is the closest hostel accomodation in proximity to the main beach of the very glamorous Noosa heads. Halse Lodge hostel in Noosa is set amidst a gorgeous Queensland tropical canopy to a beautiful daytime wild bird soundtrack. Charming and historic, the rustic Queenslander building sits atop a hill of dense tropical rainforest, just by the main roundabout to town, with pathways leading just 50 meters to the beach or lake canals. High-end shopping & dining along the main strip and cinemas are all nearby.
On arrival, if you are not greeted by the Halse Lodge helpful staff with giant relaxed Noosa smiles (see pic below,) then a giant relaxed lizard (see pic above) will likely say hello, often perching himself in the sun for your holiday instagram opportunities. Parking is free for Halse Lodge guests, which you will soon learn is the biggest bonus as good parking spots are hard to find around town in peak season.
After check-in to your private room or group dorm, a scheduled group tour of the hostel at the info session with a free drink is on offer. The hostel has a popular ping-pong table, bar and restaurant. Plenty of hostel activities are nearby such as stand-up paddle boarding or a glamorous gondola ride through the mansions along Noosa's canals.
Walking around the hostel building is instantly relaxing. So much rustic character exists on the giant wooden verandahs. Happy holidaymakers of all ages will likely be smiling against the sunny tropical bushland ambience, palm trees reaching inside though open verandah gaps. Once a guest-house run by the Anglican church, current décor utilizes history with a colourful design; church pews are covered in trendy bright cushions, and scattered basket chairs sit by stained glass windows. The building is under the umbrella of an enormous signature mango tree.
Your sleep is guaranteed because of a handy noise curfew, 11pm. Dorms are high ceiling tidy rooms with few beds – also great for sleeping. The public bathroom area is pleasant, clean, airy and large. If you are lucky enough to book a private room, it has a lovely freshly made summer bedspread with bedside tables, cupboard space, an abundance of shiny mirrors, modern lamp, two wooden chairs, and enough shelving to unpack your entire suitcases, plus plenty of clothes hanging space. Fans move the fresh beach air around rooms, and a stained glass window shows off that giant mango tree mixed in with palms tropical scene.
The restaurant at Halse Lodge has considerate prices, and creative charm gives a lovely ambience. Approximately 80% of customers dining will be non-guests. A sign with large chalk handwriting at the base of Halse Lodge temps the locals, showing off their delicious daily specials, when you seat yourself amongst the colouful cushions, tungsten lights and music for a fine meal, you'll know why.
Contact details: HALSE LODGE IN NOOSA
Halse Lodge Backpacker Hostel Noosa
2 Halse Lane
(07) 5447 3377 or Freecall 1800 242 567
It's been a great Australian tradition to take the family away camping or caravaning in the school holidays, and Australian caravan parks are embedded in the Australian psyche of thousands of Australians as a childhood memory of timeless, lazy days by the beach, the smell of open fires and camp cooking, sing-alongs and walks in the bush... Aussie caravan parks have a unique atmosphere that is laid-back and friendly with a certain humble, rustic innocence that makes them a firm favourite for families and back packers alike when it comes to low-cost holidays that are a real, refreshing break from the daily grind.
There is a great caravan park with a difference, hidden on the south side of the Richmond River at the beachside town of Ballina, on the Far North Coast of New South Wales, only a half an hour from Byron Bay - the Ballina Beach Village.
Position is everything when it comes to great holiday locations and Ballina Beach Village has it all, the wide graceful Richmond River, abundant in great fishing on one side, absolute deserted beach frontage on the other, and pristine national park behind - it makes for the perfect getaway on a budget, and is especially well set up for a wonderful family holiday.
Heading south on the Pacific Highway out of Ballina, the Big Prawn is an iconic local landmark and the turn to Ballina Beach Village is left at the next roundabout, for half a kilometre to the Burns Point Ferry.
Let's hope they never build a bridge here - taking the old style car ferry makes you feel like you are leaving the world behind, and you immediately feel time shift down a gear, as you watch the pelicans gliding on the Richmond River against a backdrop of mangroves and fishing boats. Take the next left when you drive off the punt (don't forget to pay the ferryman -it's $4.80 for a car) and head along a good bitumen road past some isolated holiday houses and cane fields and out towards the beach.
Ballina Beach Village is the last on the right and is well sign posted, but you'll see the colourful flags along the road as you approach.
Owners Rikki and Bernhard Grinberg are there to meet and greet and they are a delightful, interesting and cultured couple with a grand vision for making Ballina Beach Village the best little caravan park in the Known Universe.
One of the most remote places you can visit on Earth is also one of the most mysterious: Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui in the native language. Dubbed Easter Island when the first Europeans landed here on Easter Day 1722, the island is the most isolated inhabited place on earth – farther from the next piece of land than any other settled place on our planet.
Nearly six hours by air from mainland Chile, Rapa Nui holds some of the greatest mysteries known to humankind. It is most famous, of course, for the legendary statues that seem to stand guard around its coastline. Many people who could never begin to pick out the island on a map would recognize a photograph of one of these statues, called Moai, instantly.
More than 600 Moai sculptures are found around the small island, ranging in size from a meter to more than eight meters in height. But exactly how the statues got there, and their significance, remain largely unknown and controversial; as does the reason so many were toppled, and why the thriving, sophisticated civilization here went into a sudden decline and disappeared in the late 18th century. After decades of research and archaeology, scientific investigation and oral history handed down for generations, the answers given are often at odds — even among the Rapa Nui people themselves.
It is an enchanting place to visit, the legends and mystery simply adding to the allure. Visiting the many archeological spots that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site with a knowledgeable tour guide — a must in order to understand in any depth what you are seeing — can take weeks. But in a matter of days, one can see the major sites of importance. The protected Parque Nacional Rapa Nui makes up forty percent of the island’s surface.
The top place to stay on the island is Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa, less than a kilometer the airport and the only town on the island, Hanga Roa. The entire resort is carefully built and designed using natural materials and local handicrafts as much as possible. The common areas, restaurants, meeting rooms, spas, and buildings with the guest rooms are all placed around the property within easy walking distance, but with plenty of green space and privacy in between. Views are spectacular, right at the water's edge with the wild surf beating at black rocks mere yards away.
75 rooms and suites are carefully decorated in island style, with privacy and comfort combined with luxurious amenities. The Kainga rooms feature "columns" of polished Cypress trunks, pebbled floors, a native-crafted clay tub and separate rainfall shower. The built-in desk and sofa bed offer usability and comfort, and the private terraces with ocean views are the crowning touch. On my first morning here, I looked out my terrace doors to see a dozen of the island's wild horses yards away, just beyond the property fence. That combined with the stunning sunrise coming up over the cliffs and Hanga Roa town, amidst the morning fog, was a spectacular greeting.
Six Ma'unga suites also offer large, open living areas with built-in seating and an additional guest bathroom. All of the rooms have curved ceilings and walls, which is one of the things I found most pleasing. Everything about Hangaroa Ecovillage feels organic, without a hard edge to the place. It's like an immersion into the Rapa Nui lifestyle.
Internet connection is available in all rooms, and each has a stocked minibar - snacks are complimentary, and replenished.
The beautifully landscaped grounds include a lovely pool, the main lobby and gathering areas, exercise room and three meeting and event rooms. There is also a spa, Manavai, which provides unique treatments using locally-crafted ingredients. Separate private treatment rooms offer the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation.
A highlight of a stay here is definitely the dining experience. The hotel excels with its seafood dishes, which are beyond outstanding. The main restaurant, Poerava, serves breakfast and lunch in a gorgeous setting overlooking the ocean. For evening cocktails and dining, Kaloa invites guests for a complimentary sunset cocktail. There is a small separate bar, along with several levels of private dining tables. The decor is minimalist and chic, and reminiscent of dining in a top continental restaurant. Both the service and food are top-notch in both dining rooms, as is the selection of Chilean wines offered to accompany the inventive, fresh dishes.
Hanga Roa town is only a short walk away (taxis can also be easily had). The town is small,home to about five thousand residents, but interesting to stroll around. There are a number of nice little shops, restaurants and bars, particularly along the main street and the beach side. An artisan market and two museums are highly worthwhile. Don’t forget to stop by the post office for a must-have Easter Island memento: for a suggested tip, the postmaster will stamp your passport with the official Easter Island stamp.
One of the best things about staying at Hangaroa Eco Village is the fact that they can set up all your excursions for you. They work with the first (and best) tour operator on the island, Mahinatur Services, which has been in business since 1967. You can set up your excursions direct from the hotel and your tour guide will be there to meet you (and usually other resort guests) each morning or afternoon. Every excursion we went on was top-notch, with excellent and knowledgeable English-speaking guides. This helped to make our Easter Island visit one of the top travel experiences I have ever had - and certainly one of the most unique in the world.
Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa
AV. PONT S / N, Hangaroa,
Easter Island, Chile
+56 (2) 2957 0300
LAN Airlines operates daily flights from Santiago to Easter Island (except Tuesday), with twice-weekly flights that continue on to Tahiti. They are also generally the best bet for flying into Chile from North America, Central America and South America.
Easter Island Information:
The official Chile Tourism websiteoffers a wealth of information about visiting the country and Easter Island.
Easter Island Tourism also has their own website about the island.
Images by Keith Hajovsky