LID LIFTS ON LUXE
The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on April 4 marks the beginning of the biggest sporting event the Gold Coast has ever hosted. But before then, champagne corks will be popping and cameras flashing for the big reveal on the centrepiece of The Star Gold Coast’s transformation.
March 22 has been set as the official opening date of The Darling, the 17-storey luxury hotel that’s been taking shape at the Broadbeach complex, which many people still recognise by its former name, Jupiters. The ritzy new accommodation will have 57 suites, starting from base-level Jewel Suites and 21 larger Stellar Suites. But the ultimate are the seven Penthouse Suites, some with deluxe spa rooms, or a choice of billiard, media or exercise room. The rooftop is the setting for an infinity pool and Nineteen at The Star, a restaurant and bar which is a collaboration with Gold Coast restaurateur Simon Gloftis and entertainment identity Billy Cross.
It’s billed as one of the places to be during the Games from April 4-15, when the hotel will host nightly themed events, giant screens will show the action and athletes will make special appearances. Though connected to neighbouring The Star, The Darling is a stand-alone property with its own grand entrance. It is a sister property to The Star in Sydney, which recently received its second consecutive five-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide. (Crown Towers in Melbourne also scored five stars.) Rates for post-Commonwealth Games stays at The Darling Broadbeach will be released when online bookings open later this month.
Next door, the Star has opened a new day spa, Azure Spa & Fitness, open to the public as well as guests.
ROYAL LIVES INVITING
Be prepared, as the royal wedding on May 19 draws nearer, for a deluge of offers from the UK for ways to have a regal experience of your own. In Scotland, Edinburgh’s Dunstane Houses – an 1852 townhouse hotel which was renovated last year – has a dedicated “Live like a Royal” package to celebrate the union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The $656-a-night package includes a royal-themed afternoon tea with the Queen’s favourite cucumber sandwiches, a day tour of the city’s royal hotspots and a Scottish dinner and whisky tasting with the hotel’s resident connoisseur. THEDUNSTANE.COM
LOVING REGAL STYLE
Still on royal weddings. Their style, anyway. A “William and Kate Package” is among a suite of new celebrity-themed wedding plans launched by TFE hotels to celebrate marriage equality. The package, availabe at Rendezvous hotels in Melbourne and Scarborough, WA, includes a black-tie dinner modelled on the royal couple’s Buckingham Palace nuptials, with a candlelit walkway, indoor fireworks, a band, pink champagne and peach bellinis.
Couples who love the limelight can choose an Elton John and David Furnish deal, and those looking for something more intimate can model their celebration on the wedding of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, vegan menu included.
JAPAN SKI BOOST
The Japanese ski season isn’t over yet, but already there’s an enticing reason – onsen addiction aside – for skiers to return in 2018-2019.
Holders of the Epic Australia Pass, which already connects Perisher in the NSW snowfields with Vail Resorts in the US and Canada, can ski or snowboard for five consecutive days next season at nine resorts in the Hakuba Valley, west of Tokyo and its international airports.
The Japanese additions bring the number of resorts under the Epic Pass to 24. The pass is $839. Holiday blackouts require an upgrade to ski on certain dates in the US and Canada but no blackout dates apply in Japan. EPICAUSTRALIAPASS.COM.AU
BRUNEL’S JOURNEY TRACKED
Train travel aficionados who have become mildly obsessed with former UK pollie Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys on SBS TV (and the European series, even the repeats) will be interested in a museum that is about to open in the west of England.
In one recently repeated episode, Portillo re-covered the tracks – double pun intended – of master engineer of the Great Western Railway, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Brunel is known as the man who built Britain, and a museum exploring his life and legacy is opening in Bristol on March 23.
The project, Being Brunel, brings together the world’s most significant collection on the 19th-century master engineer including 150 personal artefacts. Visitors will step into a re-creation of the drawing office, complete with scent, where Brunel and his team worked on final designs for the SS Great Britain – the first iron ship to cross the Atlantic in 1843 – which is already an attraction on the Bristol waterfront. SSGREATBRITAIN.ORG
DID YOU KNOW?
Free luxury holidays to Tanzania, Hawaii and Greece, and Golden Door Spa retreats, were in the goodie bags given to Academy Award nominees in the A-list acting and directing categories at the Oscars last weekend.