TALK OF THE TOWNS
From Page 3
THE festival state is poised for a mini tourism renaissance with a rush of upmarket regional developments giving the state’s once-sleepy coastal towns the five-star treatment.
Baillie Lodges leads the charge with its groundbreaking eco-retreat on Kangaroo Island but developers are also scanning other key areas, including the Flinders Ranges.
Hot beds: Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island, the latest offering from Baillie Lodges, is hidden in bush above Hanson Bay and looks like shaping up to be Australia’s smartest eco-retreat. Scheduled to open in March and with ravishing views of the rugged island coastline and pounding southern seas, the 21 super-savvy guest suites feature local limestone and recycled timbers, some have fireplaces and the signature suite, Osprey, features a hot tub cantilevered over the bush. A day spa perches clifftop while food and wine will have a regional flavour.
The Port Lincoln Hotel’s city-smart guestrooms are distributed over seven floors in this just-opened shorefront development in Port Lincoln, the booming tuna capital of Australia. The hotel features a seafood restaurant, gym, pool and management lineup that includes Adelaide Crows AFL greats.
The Links at Lady Bay, Normanville, is a St Andrews-style links golf course combined with 42 Grand Mercure spa suites offering ocean views only one hour south of Adelaide.
Paul Pruszinski, owner of the Boatel, Australia’s most glamorous houseboat, is planning to open a luxury private beachfront villa in Adelaide’s pretty Semaphore later this year.
What the experts say: South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Andrew McEvoy says the state can expect more upscale development in regional areas as investors scout new locales: ‘‘ Travellers want to stay in places architecturally in keeping with their surrounds and they want these developments to be sustainable.’’ McEvoy adds that trend-spotters have tipped the state’s seafood-rich and pristine west coast (on Eyre Peninsula) as Australia’s next holiday playground.
www.southaustralia.com Christine McCabe FROM big British bands to hip hotels seems to have been a seamless transition for John Spence. The British-born, Perth-based entrepreneur, one-time manager of the Eurythmics, Culture Club and Bananarama, heads Karma Resorts, an international hotel chain specialising in five-star, family-friendly operations. The group’s first Australian venture, Karma Margaret River, opens later this year, featuring 29 villas sporting 21stcentury must-haves such as a handcrafted kitchen, stone fireplace and sauna.
Among other accoutrements — snooker room, tennis courts, boating lake and putting green — the resort has its own vineyard, all the better to sample the Margaret River region’s primary output.
Hot beds: The celadon waters of the Indian Ocean provide the platform for the Novotel Ningaloo Resort, a 44-room complex overlooking the magical marine wilderness in the state’s northwest. The four-star Exmouth Resort, built in rammed earth and local stone, offers one, two and three-bedroom studios and apartments, bar, fitness centre and two pools. And if you can’t spy a manta ray cruising the reef, you can eat in the eponymous restaurant.
In the not-so-far-away Pilbara, the Karijini Eco Retreat is the first high-end tented accommodation in the Karijini National Park, a tapestry of ochre gorges, pristine rock pools and waterfalls. With 40 deluxe ensuite eco-tents, the retreat allows easy access to Weano, Hancock, Knox and Joffre gorges.
Down south, Chandeliers on Abbey is a grown-up getaway of three adults-only retreats (with four more on the drawing board) within a 20ha property close to the surfing beaches at Yallingup, Margaret River.
What the experts say: Kate Lamont, chairwoman of Tourism WA, believes 2008 will see a focus on indigenous tourism, products and experiences. ‘‘ Western Australia can become the place where visitors from all over the world come to celebrate and experience traditional and contemporary Aboriginal culture.’’
www.westernaustralia.com Lorraine Ironside
RESORTS, attractions and tourism developments never cease to spring up along the Queensland coast. Among the most recent are the $7 million facelift for Noosa’s Hastings Street, with added access points to the beach, and the multi-million-dollar redevelopment of the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel.
For active visitors, the Sunshine Coast’s new 26km Caloundra Boardwalk links Golden Beach in the south and Point Cartwright in the north. For those who prefer the bush, spectacular views and thundering waterfalls are part of the new 54km Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk through Lamington National Park, the Numinbah Valley and Springbrook National Park.
Hot beds: Flanking the ferry terminal at Magnetic Island, 25 minutes from Townsville, are two new apartment developments: Peppers Blue on Blue Resort, with 157 apartments, and Mantra One Bright Point which has 125 one, two and three-bedroom beachhouse style apartments on the edge of the Coral Sea.
The five-star, adults-only Qualia on Hamilton Island is the last word in exclusivity for visitors to the Whitsundays while the $10 million-plus Hunt Resort, expected to open in mid-March on Fitzroy Island, off Cairns, will offer eight luxury beachfront villas and 48 one-bedroom apartments.
Back on the mainland, the open-plan sanctuaries at the new Peppers Bale Port Douglas are set in 15ha of lush vegetation and designed to catch tropical breezes. Guests can choose from one to four-bedroom villas with private plunge pools and custom-made Asian furniture.
What the experts say: Tourism Queens- land chief executive officer Anthony Hayes tells Travel & Indulgence that having an experience and learning or discovering something new is as important as relaxation time to an increasing number of visitors to the sunshine state.
‘‘ People want to immerse themselves in our lifestyle or an experience, be it walking in the tree canopy of a rainforest, learning to sail in the Whitsundays or discovering our heritage in Queensland’s outback.’’
www.queenslandholidays.com.au Lee Mylne
NEW tourism ventures in Tasmania this year include top-flight accommodation developments, innovative cruises and boutique special-interest attractions. The Central Highlands town of Bothwell will be the site of a new sister hotel for an award-winning Hobart property. Nicholas and Amy Parkinson-Bates, the hoteliers whose skill and flair saw The Islington short-listed as a candidate in the luxury accommodation category of The Australian’s Travel & Tourism Awards in 2006 and ’ 07, are transforming a heritage mansion into the Priory Country Lodge.
Also in Bothwell, the historic property Nant will house a whisky distillery in the beautifully restored water-driven flour mill, which dates from 1823. On the water, Rob Pennicott of Bruny Island Charters fame, has developed a second eco-cruise, this time between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck: highlights include prolific marine wildlife, Australia’s highest sea cliffs and a close encounter with Tasman Island.
Freycinet Peninsula on the island’s east coast is the scene of Pure Tasmania’s new signature experience, Wineglass to Wine Glass, which involves a guided walk over the Hazards to the famous bay, a splendid openair lunch beneath shady sheoaks then a trip by water taxi back to Freycinet Lodge.
Hot beds: In the north, Flora de Kantzow, creator of the acclaimed Henry Jones Art Hotel in Hobart and Launceston’s hip Hatherley House, is opening her third accommodation venture in the colonial mansion, Quamby, with its own golf course.
What the experts say: Tourism Tasmania chief executive officer Felicia Mariani says that Australia’s ‘‘ island of inspiration’’ welcomes 2008 with open arms. ‘‘ As well as awe-inspiring wilderness and amazing wildlife, Tasmania has sophisticated small cities, gourmet food and wine, unique arts and crafts and sensational coastal experiences, all within easy reach of the island’s gateways. These new initiatives are just some of the developments that showcase all that Tasmania has to offer.’’
www.discovertasmania.com.au Chris Viney
WILD bush luxury is the hot theme for 2008. Properties with tented cabins and safari suites are springing up from the Top End to the Red Centre, closing the distance between travellers and the natural world, but without ever quite surrendering their sense of indulgence.
Hot beds: On the edge of the lily-carpeted Mary River floodplain near Kakadu’s western fringe, Bamurru Plains is like a collision between Belle magazine, an R. M. Williams catalogue, a David Attenborough documentary and the scrummiest menu you can imagine. Guests are pampered with nine safari suites (with corrugated-iron bathrooms featuring unlimited water), along with an open bar, an unending stream of delicacies (oysters or buffalo skewers, anyone?) and an infinity pool with a delirious view across a floodplain that can be explored in airboats that zip lightly among the magpie geese, crocodiles and water buffalo.
Surrounded by the looming George Gill Ranges, Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge is in the middle of a working cattle and camel station 36km from Kings Canyon. Accommodation is in the form of 10 air-conditioned tented cabins among the desert oaks, and dining out means the finest gourmet tucker by the fire beneath the stars.
Possibly the remotest of the Territory’s plush options, Dugong Beach Resort’s bungalows, suites and luxury tents occupy 25ha on the coast of Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The resort was developed in consultation with the traditional owners and aims to showcase the culture and way of life of the Anindilyakwa people.
What the experts say: According to Tourism NT’s Rita Harding: ‘‘ Wild bush luxury is the best way to describe the latest and hottest additions to the Northern Territory’s tourism accommodation and attractions. The NT is well positioned to contribute to travellers’ growing interest in the environment and cultural experiences.’’
www.travelnt.com James Jeffrey
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
CANBERRA life — balanced between culture and nature — will blossom in 2008 with fresh gallery spaces, a free-ranging wildlife discovery experience (from March, at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve) and the appearance of the Beijing Olympic Torch (April 23-24) in the torch relay’s only Australian run.
A new gallery, Conflicts 1945 to Today, opens in February at the Australian War Memorial and includes a multi-media presentation within the bridge of HMAS Brisbane. The National Portrait Gallery moves to a purpose-built space next to the National Gallery, opening in December, with more than 500 portraits on permanent display. Canberra hosts Australia’s first national photography festival, Vivid, with exhibitions and events, from July to October.
The Bah, a sophisticated cocktail space, and the Wine & Cheese Providore joined Mecca Bah restaurant at Manuka at the end of 2007 to give The Terrace a stylish foodie future.
Hot beds: Hotel Realm Canberra opened late last year next to the National Press Club in Barton. It’s an avant-garde five-star property that by the end of 2010 will be part of a complex of apartments, retail and green space. Hotel Diamant at 15 Edinburgh Ave is a five-star boutique hotel within the heritagelisted Hotel Acton building, part of Eight Hotels group (which owns Sydney’s Kirketon Hotel and individualistic boutique hotels around the country); and part of a designer urban village, a first for Canberra.
What the experts say: In 2008, Canberra will be full of unexpected delights, says Ian Hill, marketing manager of Australian Capital Tourism. ‘‘ Indoors? See exhibitions such as Turner to Monet (at the National Gallery) and the Canberra exclusive photography festival, Vivid. Outdoors, ride the track that will define the world mountain bike championships 2009, at the new Stromlo Forest Park recreational space.
‘‘ And for a party, don’t miss Floriade 21 in mid-September celebrating the festival of flowers’ 21st birthday.’’
www.visitcanberra.com.au Judith Elen
Great expectations: Clockwise from top left, Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge; Islington Hotel in Hobart ; Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge; Chandeliers on Abbey; Peppers Salt Resort; Bamurru Plains; Hotel Realm Canberra; Peppers Bale Port Douglas (centre)
Chandeliers on Abbey picture: Robert Frith