Ca­sual com­fort helps over­come the el­e­ments

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

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.

Check­list

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

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