Gen­er­a­tions of fun in the sun

Hy­att Re­gency Coolum is an Aus­tralian tourism stayer

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

IN an age of in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion and dis­pos­abil­ity, any­where that has stood the test of time is a place to be trea­sured. I am not nec­es­sar­ily talk­ing of his­toric piles or grand mon­u­ments but of build­ings or com­plexes that rep­re­sent the very best of their era.

Hy­att Re­gency Coolum opened amid con­sid­er­able fan­fare in 1988 — I know this as I was there, in shoul­der pads and high hair — and its ar­rival caused much ex­cite­ment in the tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. Here we had a 150ha es­tate, me­an­der­ing in a wavy arc with in­te­grated ac­com­mo­da­tion and leisure fa­cil­i­ties, cham­pi­onship golf course, seven ten­nis courts, myr­iad pools, vil­las and cy­cling trails. And all in a re­sound­ingly Aus­tralian set­ting, with wood­lands full of ringtail pos­sums, squir­rel glid­ers and rain­bow lori­keets at its back, and beach be­yond.

There were (and still are) satel­lite lounges with names such as Palm and Bauhinia and Coolibah ser­vic­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion clus­ters with break­fasts and in­for­ma­tion fa­cil­i­ties. It felt very or­ganic, be­fore we had started to di­min­ish that word through whole­sale overuse.

It hardly sounds all that ex­cit­ing now but that was the age of ex­cess, of Christo­pher Skase and gold-plated taps, of stretch lim­ou­sines and wine cool­ers. No one thought much about the en­vi­ron­ment, about re­cy­cling tow­els or sav­ing wa­ter. Car­bon emis­sions? Some­thing to do with trip­li­cate forms, per­haps.

Twenty-three years on, af­ter thor­ough re­fur­bish­ments and light makeovers, and decades of good main­te­nance and man­age­ment, Hy­att Re­gency Coolum still de­liv­ers the goods.

Queens­land min­ing bil­lion­aire Clive Palmer bought the prop­erty from the Lend Lease Cor­po­ra­tion this month, which could her­ald more in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture. It was orig­i­nally built by Ja­panese de­vel­oper gi­ant Daikyo at the height of the Queens­land tourism boom; Hy­att has al­ways had the man­age­ment con­tract and when ca­sual as well as per­ma­nent staff are counted, it’s the Sun­shine Coast’s big­gest em­ployer.

Hy­att Re­gency Coolum is as fam­ily-friendly as ever, with an em­pha­sis on walk­ing and cy­cling, breath­ing the fine air of this blessed Queens­land re­gion, and get­ting sporty on the golf course or be­ing princess-pam­pered in The Spa, the largest in Aus­tralia at a lav­ish 750sq m and open for en­cour­ag­ingly long hours (6.30am to 7pm).

In the 1980s, that word spa meant a hot tub, with chaps sport­ing mous­taches and medallions and ladies togged up in gold biki­nis. Now we all recog­nise that spas are tem­ples to health and beauty, sa­lons of ab­so­lute pam­per­ing, and The Spa may be plainly named but that’s where the no-frills ap­proach ends. It’s all about frills and fab treat­ments, from mas­sages with buck­wheat and blos­soms to a Di­a­mond Fa­cial with ice-lift mask that fea­tures frozen marine DNA, grape-seed ex­tract and laven­der es­sen­tial oil. This ex­tra­or­di­nary af­fair fea­tures prod­ucts from the Natura Bisse — as used, don’t you know, ‘ ‘ by Bey­once and the Span­ish roy­als’’.

There are bam­boo scrubs and detox­i­fy­ing oxy­gen fa­cials and pri­vate lit­tle ‘ ‘ geisha tubs’’ in peb­bled court­yard gar­dens with pic­co­los of French fizz and sliced trop­i­cal fruit at hand. Fit­ness is on the hol­i­day agenda, too, with swim coach­ing, per­son­alised yoga or pi­lates, and train­ers plus a 25m lap pool, steam­rooms, saunas and aquaro­bics classes.

In 1988, I re­mem­ber hav­ing my nails done and think­ing that was pretty cool.

What was so rev­o­lu­tion­ary all those years ago was the sense of not be­ing in a ho­tel at all but more of a coun­try club, with low-rise blocks of rooms dot­ted amid pa­per­barks, groves of an­gophora and vivid rain­for­est with kan­ga­roos hop­ping, brush tur­keys strut­ting and jewel-coloured par­rots swoop­ing. It is still a na­ture-based ex­pe­ri­ence; ev­ery time I have stayed — per­haps six times over the years — there has been a kan­ga­roo on the 18th tee, j ust stand­ing there ex­pec­tantly as if on some kind of corny cue, wait­ing to be pho­tographed. I can’t help but imag­ine staff lurk­ing in the bushes and calls of ‘‘Re­lease the roo!’’ as guests wan­der past.

What’s new on my visit late last month is the first-phase re­fur­bish­ment of the re­sort’s 156 King Rooms — this re­vamped ac­com­mo­da­tion has been branded as Golf King and Gar­den King cat­e­gories, with chic white bath­rooms, smart neu­tral soft fur­nish­ings, pale tim­bers and a two-way tele­vi­sion that turns for view­ing from lounge or bed.

The 324-room in­ven­tory also in­cludes re­fur­bished twobed­room Golf Vil­las, Lake­front Vil­las and Am­bas­sador Vil­las and Res­i­dences in their own en­clave, with pool and gar­dens, op­po­site the 18th tee.

If you have chil­dren in tow, this is na­ture nir­vana, with a Camp Hy­att recre­ational pro­gram and four age-graded clubs cater­ing for ju­niors from six weeks to 10 years. Es­pe­cially dur­ing school hol­i­day pe­ri­ods, there are su­per­vised ac­tiv­i­ties that range from chil­dren’s golf clin­ics and kite-mak­ing classes to bird­watch­ing and botan­i­cal walks and archery.

Older Camp Hy­att kids can take off on guided ex­cur­sions while you sit by the pool, lie down in the spa, or loll just about any­where. Mean­while, they could be ice-skat­ing, ten­pin bowl­ing or rid­ing at­trac­tions with names such as Booma Zooma or Gig­gle Go Round at Aussie World theme park at Palmview in the com­pany of a su­per­vi­sor and other Camp Hy­att kids.

The an­nual Taste of Coolum (this year it was on the week­end of June 24-26) is a great time to stay; there are events galore with vis­it­ing Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional chefs and wine­mak­ers, and spe­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion pack­ages. But this long week­end is im­mensely pop­u­lar, so for­ward book­ings are es­sen­tial, even if you are just on the Sun­shine Coast and feel like drop­ping in.

This June there were ‘‘chefs al fresco’’ in the Sparkling Gar­den, de­gus­ta­tion din­ners at El­iza’s (the re­sort’s fine-diner) and Ital­ian cel­e­bra­tions in the Tus­can-in­spired Vil­lage Square, where at any time a meal in Br­uschetta is a treat (stand­out dish: spinach and lemon risotto with Moreton Bay bugs).

At the other end of the scale, T’Go in the Vil­lage Square of­fers take­aways, snacks and gro­cery sup­plies; the multi-bed­room Am­bas­sador Vil­las and Res­i­dences have full kitchens, so self­ca­ter­ing for longer stays is a pop­u­lar op­tion.

Hy­att Re­gency Coolum’s Robert Trent Jones Jr-de­signed 18-hole, par 72 course is home to the Aus­tralian PGA Cham­pi­onship, and golf is se­ri­ous busi­ness here. It’s not a game I’ve ever played but I can see its ap­peal and can well imag­ine golfers would be in heaven if housed in a fair­way­fac­ing gue­stroom, prac­tis­ing at a flood­lit driv­ing range, mak­ing the most of the re­designed front­nine holes.

The thwack of golf balls, the cackle of kook­abur­ras, the high­spir­ited calls of kids as they cy­cle past. Some of those very young chil­dren could rep­re­sent third­gen­er­a­tion guests; it’s a place fam­i­lies re­turn to again and again. Her­itage list it, some­body. Su­san Kurosawa was a guest of Hy­att Re­gency Coolum.

The coun­try-club lay­out of Hy­att Re­gency Coolum seemed rev­o­lu­tion­ary when it opened in 1988, and it re­mains a na­ture-based ex­pe­ri­ence

An el­e­gantly re­fur­bished King Room with two-way tele­vi­sion and chic new decor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.