Fol­low the read­ers

Su­san Kuro­sawa presents the blue-rib­bon win­ners of our an­nual Travel & Tourism Awards

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

NCE again, we have been as­ton­ished at the num­ber of votes re­ceived from read­ers for the short-listed nom­i­nees in our an­nual Travel & Tourism Awards. Vot­ing coupons ap­peared on our web­site and in is­sues of Travel & In­dul­gence over a pe­riod of five weeks from Novem­ber 15-16 to De­cem­ber 13-14 last year. This time, we added two cat­e­gories, mak­ing a to­tal of 17; the ex­tras rep­re­sented a split of ‘‘ un­der 100 rooms’’ and ‘‘ 100 rooms and over’’ in the hotly con­tested fields of best lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion and best re­sort ac­com­mo­da­tion.

As in past awards, there is a spread of win­ners across the states and ter­ri­to­ries but, sadly, no gongs this year for con­tenders in North­ern Ter­ri­tory, ACT and South Aus­tralia. The state break­down is: Tas­ma­nia 4, NSW 4, West­ern Aus­tralia 3, Vic­to­ria 2 and Queens­land 2. No state lo­ca­tor has been given to win­ners of best ad­ven­ture tour op­er­a­tor (Pere­grine Ad­ven­tures) and best tour op­er­a­tor (Aber­crom­bie & Kent) as th­ese com­pa­nies have offices in more than one Aus­tralian cap­i­tal city.

Vot­ing was ex­cep­tion­ally close, es­pe­cially in cat­e­gories of best hosted ac­com­mo­da­tion and best ad­ven­ture tour op­er­a­tor (a hand­ful of votes sep­a­rated the win­ners from the wor­thy run­ners-up) and, in the true spirit of di­ver­sity, the win­ner of best des­ti­na­tion spa, Salus Spa at Dayles­ford, is part of The Lake House prop­erty, a Win­ners’ Cir­cle mem­ber in past years in the cat­e­gory of best food ex­pe­ri­ence.

Best Lux­ury Ac­com­mo­da­tion (100 rooms and over): The Ob­ser­va­tory Ho­tel, Syd­ney. Ac­com­mo­da­tion at this swish ho­tel, which cel­e­brated its 15th an­niver­sary in 2008, runs from deluxe rooms to ex­ec­u­tive suites with mar­ble bath­rooms. 2007 win­ner and Win­ners’ Cir­cle mem­ber: Lil­ian­fels Blue Moun­tains Re­sort & Spa, NSW.

Best Lux­ury Ac­com­mo­da­tion (un­der 100 rooms): The Richardson Ho­tel, Perth, WA. This con­tem­po­rary ho­tel, with 74 gue­strooms and suites, was de­signed by Lon­don ar­chi­tect Terry Far­rell. This was a new cat­e­gory for 2008-09.

Best Re­sort Ac­com­mo­da­tion (100 rooms and over): Ca­ble Beach Club Re­sort, Broome, WA. The brain­child of Alis­tair McAlpine — the orig­i­nal con­tract was signed on the back of a beer coaster — the re­sort has just cel­e­brated its 20th birth­day. 2007 win­ner: Ca­ble Beach Club Re­sort.

Best Re­sort Ac­com­mo­da­tion (un­der 100 rooms): The By­ron at By­ron Re­sort & Spa, By­ron Bay, NSW. This re­laxed re­sort, set on rain­for­est neigh­bour­ing Tal­low Beach, of­fers 92 one-bed­room suites, some with spas. This was a new cat­e­gory for 2008-09.

Best Value Ac­com­mo­da­tion: Vibe Savoy Ho­tel, Mel­bourne. Lo­cated in a grand 1929 art deco build­ing near bustling Collins Street, this pen­ny­wise ho­tel of­fers an ex­cit­ing blend of old and new. 2007 win­ner: Vibe Savoy Ho­tel.

Best Hosted Ac­com­mo­da­tion: Crys­tal Creek Mead­ows Lux­ury Cot­tages & Spa Re­treat, Kan­ga­roo Val­ley, NSW. This ru­ral spa re­treat south of Syd­ney of­fers pam­per­ing spa treat­ments in four cot­tages scat­tered across the 6.5ha ru­ral prop­erty. 2007 win­ner: Kims Beach Hide­away, Toowoon Bay, NSW.

Best Lodge Ac­com­mo­da­tion: The Lodge at Tar­raleah, Tas­ma­nia. Built in the 1930s, the lodge, set on a High­land plateau, still re­tains much of its art deco feel but has been glam­orously up­dated. 2007 win­ner: The Lodge at Tar­raleah.

Best Fam­ily-Fo­cused Tourism: King­fisher Bay Re­sort, Fraser Is­land, Queens­land. A mag­net for fam­i­lies, this eco-friendly re­sort has four swim­ming pools, play­ground, child-friendly eater­ies and child­mind­ing fa­cil­i­ties. 2007 win­ner: Syd­ney Wildlife World, NSW.

Best Eco-Wilder­ness Ex­pe­ri­ence: Bay of Fires Walk, Tas­ma­nia. This four-day na­ture walk through spec­tac­u­lar Mt William Na­tional Park ends at the gor­geous Bay of Fires Lodge, where swim­ming and kayak­ing add to the ad­ven­ture. 2007 win­ner: Bay of Fires Walk.

Best Ad­ven­ture Tour Op­er­a­tor: Pere­grine Ad­ven­tures. One of the few op­er­a­tors in the world to spe­cialise in tours to ice-bound des­ti­na­tions such as Antarc­tica. 2007 win­ner and Win­ners’ Cir­cle mem­ber: Bal­loon Aloft, Hunter Val­ley, NSW.

Best In­dige­nous Tourism Ex­pe­ri­ence: Tjapukai Abo­rig­i­nal Cul­tural Park, Cairns, Queens­land. This pop­u­lar com­plex, just 15 min­utes from Cairns, in­cludes danc­ing, cul­tural dis­plays and a camp where vis­i­tors can try their hand at tra­di­tional ac­tiv­i­ties. 2007 win­ner and Win­ners’ Cir­cle mem­ber: Anangu Waai! Uluru, NT.

Best Her­itage Tourism: Port Arthur His­toric Site, Tas­ma­nia. This his­toric area, one of Aus­tralia’s most chill­ing and sa­cred grounds, has a unique place in the pub­lic imagination. 2007 win­ner: Aus­tralian War Memo­rial, Can­berra.

Best Food Ex­pe­ri­ence: Still­wa­ter Restau­rant and the Mill Provi­dore, Launce­s­ton, Tas­ma­nia. Opened be­side the beau­ti­ful Ta­mar River in 2000, Still­wa­ter has grown into one of Aus­tralia’s favourite food des­ti­na­tions. 2007 win­ner: Still­wa­ter Restau­rant and the Mill Provi­dore.

Best Win­ery Restau­rant: The Restau­rant at Voy­ager Es­tate, Mar­garet River, WA. Fine West Aus­tralian pro­duce pre­pared by chef Nigel Har­vey is served in an op­u­lent din­ing room com­plete with chan­de­liers and old-world fur­nish­ings. 2007 win­ner: The Restau­rant at Voy­ager Es­tate.

Best Des­ti­na­tion Spa: Salus Spa, The Lake House, Dayles­ford, Vic­to­ria. This state-of-the-art spa over­looks wa­ter­fall-fed streams, with nine treat­ment ar­eas over three lev­els, in­clud­ing treehouse-style cabins with Ja­panese tubs. 2007 win­ner and Win­ners’ Cir­cle mem­ber: Min­eral Spa, Pep­per Springs Re­treat, Hep­burn Springs, Vic­to­ria.

Best In­no­va­tive Tourism Ex­pe­ri­ence: Syd­ney Sea­planes Fly & Dine Ex­pe­ri­ences, NSW. This Rose Bay­based op­er­a­tor serves up a bird’s-eye view of the coast be­fore drop­ping off guests for an in­dul­gent lunch at a choice of restau­rants. 2007 win­ner: Syd­ney Sea­planes Fly & Dine Ex­pe­ri­ences.

Best Tour Op­er­a­tor: Aber­crom­bie & Kent. A & K, which started life in 1962 of­fer­ing exclusive African sa­faris, has since spread its wings with 60 offices around the world. Su­per-stylish travel ex­pe­ri­ences are of­fered across the seven con­ti­nents. 2007 win­ner: Maeve O’Meara Gourmet Sa­faris.

Qan­tas Fre­quent Flyer Part­ner: Em­po­rium Ho­tel, Bris­bane. The Em­po­rium, which opened in June 2007, of­fers lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion in the heart of the Queens­land cap­i­tal. No doubt its 24-hour busi­ness cen­tre was a big vote win­ner in this spe­cial cat­e­gory, which was nom­i­nated and voted for by Qan­tas fre­quent fly­ers. 2007 win­ner: Sea Tem­ple Re­sort & Spa, Palm Cove, Queens­land.

Full list of fi­nal­ists: www.theaus­tralian.com.au/ tandtawards. Ad­di­tional re­port­ing: Barry Oliver

Sa­cred grounds: Port Arthur His­toric Site, Tas­ma­nia

Beach beauty: Ca­ble Beach Club Re­sort, Broome

Fam­ily favourite: King­fisher Bay Re­sort, Fraser Is­land

Eat and be merry: Still­wa­ter Restau­rant, Launce­s­ton

Top tour: Lord Howe Is­land with Aber­crom­bie & Kent

Lap of lux­ury: The Ob­ser­va­tory Ho­tel, Syd­ney

Top notch: The Richardson Ho­tel, Perth

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