The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat -

IF you fancy es­cap­ing the crush of down­town Syd­ney this sum­mer the new In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal in har­bour­side Dou­ble Bay pro­vides a five-star vil­lage at­mos­phere just 5km from the CBD.

Royal Ho­tels Aus­tralia has spent more than a year and almost $25 mil­lion breath­ing new life into the for­mer Ritz Carl­ton build­ing on Cross Street, stream­lin­ing the 140 gue­strooms and suites, cre­at­ing a glam­orous rooftop pool and lounge com­plete with pri­vate ca­banas and yacht-span­gled wa­ter views, restor­ing the grand ball­room and adding an im­pres­sive Royal Suite with no less than four bal­conies (and a price tag of $5500 a night).

The ho­tel’s che­quered his­tory — it was aban­doned after clos­ing un­der the Stam­ford Plaza banner sev­eral years ago — is all but for­got­ten as its glory days, when the likes of Princess Diana and Madonna checked in, are now re­called.

Some of the more op­u­lent of the Ritz Carl­ton’s 90s bling, in­clud­ing the Ital­ian mar­ble fire­places, has been re­tained but oth­er­wise the new ho­tel is all about sharp clean lines and con­tem­po­rary fix­tures.

Gue­strooms, many with pri­vate bal­conies, are well pro­por­tioned, dressed in shades of cool grey, and all have views of ei­ther the vil­lage, har­bour or in­ter­nal French Provin­cial-style court­yard that forms part of the ho­tel’s Club lounge. DON’T MISS: An af­ter­noon laz­ing by that Hol­ly­wood pool with its stun­ning har­bour views. DIN­ING IN: Ex­ec­u­tive chef Julien Pouteau heads the team in Stock­room, with its light and airy din­ing room and more ca­sual pantry-style space with mar­ble-topped chef’s ta­bles, as well as the swanky Stillery gin bar and the rooftop pool­side lounge. In Stock­room be sure to try the boiled egg with Yarra Val­ley caviar, spinach and bechamel br­uschetta for break­fast. Oth­er­wise the sal­mon with wa­ter­cress mous­se­line and muntries or the salt­bush lamb with zuc­chini flower chips and seaweed salt is rec­om­mended. There’s also a kosher kitchen. DIN­ING OUT: Niji Restau­rant & Bar (21 Bay Street) and Sciue Scieu (440 New South Head Road). ASK THE CONCIERGE: James Nobleza sug­gests pack­ing your walk­ing shoes and togs. Just a fiveminute stroll from the ho­tel you’ll find Black­burn Gar­dens, a beau­ti­fully re­stored green space, claim­ing spec­tac­u­lar views of Syd­ney Har­bour. This leads to the fam­ily-friendly Redleaf Pool and Seven Shillings Beach. Other se­cret beaches along the har­bour in­clude Milk Beach and Pars­ley and Shark Bays. And there are plenty of spec­tac­u­lar walk­ing tracks along the Rose Bay to Wat­sons Bay coast­line. CHECK­ING IN: Open­ing rates from $390 in­clud­ing break­fast in Stock­room. More: in­ter­con­ti­nen­­ble­bay. ALSO TRY: The Como Mel­bourne — MGallery Col­lec­tion, South Yarra; Crosby Street Ho­tel, New York; The Ho­tel House Galatasaray, Istanbul.

CHRIS­TINE McCABE OPEN­ING this year in down­town Sin­ga­pore and in­cor­po­rat­ing sev­eral his­toric army build­ings, the Philippe Starck-de­signed 654-room South Beach Ho­tel, rep­re­sented by Pre­ferred Ho­tels & Re­sorts, will in­clude women’s-only floors and two lav­ish sky gar­dens • Also new in Sin­ga­pore is the much smaller Ho­tel Clover, 33 Jalan Sul­tan, an 88-room bou­tique ho­tel sit­u­ated in a row of his­toric shop houses in bustling Bugis; ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions in­clude two-storey loft suites and rooms with pri­vate gar­dens • Ris­ing above the city’s com­mer­cial heart and linked to the Cipu­tra Art­preneur Cen­tre, Raf­fles Jakarta is sched­uled to open in Fe­bru­ary with 173 hi-tech, lux­ury gue­strooms and the group’s sig­na­ture but­ler ser­vice; the ho­tel is of­fer­ing a 25 per cent open­ing dis­count •De­but­ing soon, the fam­ily friendly Hol­i­day Inn Re­sort Bali Benoa is of­fer­ing spe­cial soft­open­ing rates from $102; chil­dren’s fa­cil­i­ties will in­clude a hi-tech games room, day spa with a mother-and­daugh­ter treat­ment menu and pre­ar­rival emails to chil­dren to ask for their meal pref­er­ences • Jupiters Ho­tel & Casino on the Gold Coast has a glam­orous new pool precinct that in­cludes two pri­vate bun­ga­lows com­plete with out­door spas, en­ter­tain­ment cen­tres and, if you wish, the ser­vices of a spa ther­a­pist and per­sonal chef; this Ve­gas-glam pool deck is part of a larger $345 mil­lion re­sort re­de­vel­op­ment.

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