Casual comfort helps overcome the elements
THE gods of travel are not smiling: it’s to do with a combo of diverted flights, low clouds, spitting rain and a surreal Christmas Day spent in the gastro ward of a Brisbane hospital. The only thing Team Kurosawa gets right for a little festiveseason break in Queensland is the choice of holiday accommodation.
We are happily ensconced in a groundfloor apartment at Element on Coolum Beach, a short drive from the Sunshine Coast airport. Further north on the long and winding David Low Way lies Noosa, which is being forced to share its holiday crown these days with go-ahead Coolum. But while Noosa is all pressed white linen and proper straw hats, Coolum is still a bit daggy, which suits us so much better.
So it’s shapeless shorts and thongs all round as we explore the precinct. The threestorey Element on Coolum Beach features 49 units, is well positioned and more or less lives up to the sand-between-toes proximity suggested by its name. The beach is across the road, past a grassed area and what has to be one of Australia’s best-located caravan and camping parks.
We can’t see the sea and sand from our unit but the air is rich in ozone and the seagulls are mewing loudly and circling with intent. If we had doubled the budget and skimped on crackers, cranberry sauce and stuffing, we could have gone for a threebedroom oceanview configuration.
Adjoining the accommodation complex is a series of shops, two banks, patisserie, gelato bar and the Coffee Club cafe.
Within easy walking distance is a good supermarket, video store, bottle shop and the cute little Hot Chilli Bean Cafe, a BYO Thai joint with excellent curries, coconut prawns and stir-fries served at pavement tables.
Element on Coolum Beach is a member of the fast-growing Queensland-based Mint Resorts & Apartments group, which offers a handful of properties in its home state (including a second Coolum property, the Beach Retreat) and the well-priced Napoleon on Kent in Sydney.
Our two-bedroom unit is white and bright, with a well-equipped kitchen, laundry, two terraces, two televisions with cable channels, and contemporary decor. The master bedroom has an ensuite and the second is next to a large bathroom with tub and separate shower. There’s plenty of room to swish about, roast turkeys, set flame to puds, entertain guests and roll out our new set of quoits for some determined playoffs on the tiled floor between the dining table and the sofa.
Element on Coolum Beach is not so ultraluxurious that we can’t relax and have fun. It’s a bit like being inside a Freedom Furniture catalogue: hard-wearing, fashionably generic, designed for a bit of wear and tear. Our only complaints are the devilishly uncomfortable pillows: if this had been a road trip from Sydney, we would have brought our own, piled up with the folding beach chairs, picnic baskets, assorted inflatables and stray aunts, in the manner of a true Aussie beach holiday.
As it is, the wet weather keeps us indoors, save for a quick visit to the complex’s small day spa for a facial and pedicure (Christmas can be a deeply wearing time of year for feet and face muscles) and swims in the courtyard pool where exuberant children are splashing about, protesting to their parents that there’s no need to worry about the rain as they are wet already. Some elements of a family beach holiday never change.
Element on Coolum Beach, 1808 David Low Way, Coolum Beach, Queensland. Phone (07) 5455 1777 or 1300 139 744; www.staymint.com. Tariff: From $180 a night for a one-bedroom unit (minimum two nights). Five-night minimum stay applies in high season. Check website for autumn specials. Getting there: About 15 minutes by road from Sunshine Coast airport or 90 minutes from Brisbane. Checking in: Mostly families. Wheelchair access: Some units can be accessed via a lift from the underground car park. Bedtime reading: Anything with a seaside bent: EvilundertheSun by Agatha Christie fits the bill. For children: FiveGo DowntotheSea from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. Stepping out: This is the heart of the Sunshine Coast: the reception desk has plenty of free material on attractions and tours. Brickbats: Pool opens at 7am and even though children must be supervised, there could be lots of early-bird splashing and squealing. At least in unit 4103, pillows are uncomfortable and beds a little too hard. Bouquets: Very spacious and clean, with quality fittings and helpful front-desk staff. Restaurants, shops and cafes nearby. Excellent day spa (bookings essential).
From sea to shining pool: Lagoon-style swimming at the well-priced Element, with Coolum Beach a short walk away