Romantic-getaways-2

Top 3 Winter Getaways in NSW

Why escape Sydney’s winter weather when you can embrace it? Rather than dreaming of tropical locations over the next few months, we have five winter getaways which are cheaper than a one-way ticket to Europe – plus they’re so much fun!

RELATED: Picturesque Weekend Getaways in NSW

Blue Mountains Chocolate Festival

You might want to pack a few extra layers and thermals for a trip to the Blue Mountains, but the three hour drive is worth the wait. A brand new chocolate festival is taking place between between July 3-5 and will feature lots of delicious options for the entire weekend.

The special movie screening of Chocolat, featuring Johnny Depp, will be available to watch all weekend, while markets at Blackheath Public School will be open. You can also take part in the fine art of chocolate making at Whisk and Pin, or simply relax with a bag of chocolates at Hotel Blue in Katoomba.

Top 3 Winter Getaways in NSW

Hunter Valley

Since it might be too chilly for a weekend at the coast, why not head inland to the Hunter Valley for a relaxing getaway. Wine country isn’t all about spending half your day vineyard hopping (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The Hunter Valley is also home to delicious chocolate, gourmet food and local scenery – sure to keep you occupied and off social media!

Top 3 Winter Getaways in NSW

Kiama Coastal Walk

If you’re brave enough to head down to the coast for a weekend getaway, you must experience Kiama by foot. The stunning 22km coastal walk includes a breathtaking view of Blowhole Point and ends at Werri Beach where you can relax and enjoy some gourmet food and wine.

Top 3 Winter Getaways in NSW

Images via Flickr, Around You, Visitors Bureau

June 22, 2015

Destination Weddings: Top Locations To Marry Abroad

Who wouldn’t love to get married in an exotic location abroad? June is actually the most popular time to hop on a plane, bring along your closest friends and family, then get married during the hot summer. Get inspired by some of our top locations to marry abroad in summer 2015.

RELATED: Why You Should Consider Solo Travel in 2015

Santorini

It goes without saying that this tiny Greek island has more to offer than just 5am clubbing. Majestic sunsets, breathtaking views of the crystal-clear water and stunning architecture are some of the main reasons many couples choose this idyllic location.

Destination Weddings - Top Locations To Marry Abroad

Amalfi Coast

The glorious Amalfi Coast is one of the most popular places to marry in the entire world. Not only does it offer stunning views of the sea side, mountains and the entire French Riviera, but it makes for one stunning wedding album.

Destination Weddings - Top Locations To Marry Abroad

San Francisco

If you’re heading to the United States for your nuptials, don’t pass on San Francisco. The Golden Gate bridge is one of the most popular sights for newlyweds to take some of their first photos as man and wife.

Destination Weddings - Top Locations To Marry Abroad

The Rocks

How many couples have you seen walking hand-in-hand throughout the picturesque area of The Rocks in Sydney? This location is one of the best to capture the newlyweds with a backdrop of Sydney Harbour, as well as the Sydney Opera House.

Destination Weddings - Top Locations To Marry Abroad

Akamas

The Akamas Peninsula of Western Cyprus has fast become a favourite for its breathtaking views of the sea and sun. The Baths of Aphrodite are also a great landmark to enjoy the view – and take some wedding photos.

Destination Weddings - Top Locations To Marry Abroad

Dubrovnik

The ancient city of Dubrovnik in Croatia is known for its scenic venues for weddings, holidays, and general get-togethers. As the city is located right on the water, it makes for a picturesque summer wedding.

Destination Weddings - Top Locations To Marry Abroad

What are some of your dream locations?

Images via Divine Weddings Santorini, Dubrovnik Luxury Weddings, Holiday in Cyprus, Creek Street, JJ Chen Blog, Wedding Amalfi Coast

June 15, 2015

Heal House: The Ultimate Brisbane Luxury Escape

Are you in need of a luxury Queensland getaway? Some R&R in a divine, inner-city sanctuary?

RELATED: Why You Should Consider Solo Travel in 2015

As a busy working mum of two toddlers under three, I was excited when I checked into my stunning home-away-from-home for a night: the 5-star boutique guest house, Heal House, at 72 Heal Street, New Farm.

An inner-city suburb of Brisbane, Australia, swanky New Farm is 2km east of the Brisbane CBD on a large bend of the Brisbane River. It’s close to top-end shops, amazing restaurants and cafes and Brisbane icon, community arts and performance centre, The Powerhouse.

I was flying solo for the first time in ages when I checked into Heal House and I couldn’t have been happier about some much-needed solo “me time”, not to mention my choice of accommodation. Talk about the ultimate Brisbane luxury escape!

holiday, luxury escape, travel

I had a happy squeal upon arrival at the stylish boutique guest house; it offers a truly unique and elegant Brisbane experience.

Housed in a large, heritage Queenslander, the property has recently been lovingly restored to make the most of its stunning traditional architecture. What could be more uniquely Brisbane, than staying in such an exceptional place?

In addition, it was so comfy and opulent, with stunning personal touches, it put cold, anonymous 5-star hotels to shame. I’m talking seriously swoon-worthy quality cotton bathrobes, huge bath sheets and superior quality bed linen; an iPod docking station; a complimentary non-alcoholic mini bar, complete with confectionery and an “honour bar”, stocked with a selection of premium alcoholic beverages.

With just three luxury guest suites available, Heal House truly offers an intimate yet high-end luxury travel getaway.

holiday, luxury escape, travel

Hosts Lindsay Bennett and Bryce Williams have also included personal, prized artworks and gorgeous family heirlooms among the stunning kitchen, lounge room and interiors; Heal House is at once super-stylish and glamorous, yet warm and comfy.

It’s the sort of opulence that’s hard to find and such a welcome relief; like me, you’ll look forward to your next visit with gusto.

It’s also the type of quality luxury escape that inspires you to dress up: I put on my best silk Collette Dinnigan maxi dress to enjoy some welcome drinks with my lovely hosts.

holiday, luxury escape, travel

And if I was excited about Heal House’s stylish exterior, I felt even greater joy when I discovered my large master suite. The king-size bed and stunning aforementioned bed linen were seriously swoon-worthy; I couldn’t wait to jump in there!

Stylish, chocolaty colours envelope you in a warm embrace. And there were dimmer lights – a much-forgotten, added luxury which should be an essential in every 5-star bedroom! Of course, there was also an LCD Television with Foxtel, ducted air-conditioning and access to wireless broadband.

Then there’s the amazing ensuite featuring granite tiles, custom marble vanities and premium amenities – for me, you can tell a lot about the quality of any guest house/hotel by its bathroom. This one was so good, complete with massive bath (bath duckies = fun!) and ornate mother-of-pearl furnishings, that I simply didn’t want to leave.

holiday, luxury escape, travel

But leave I must: I had a dinner date at the newly restored Deery’s Restaurant & Smokehouse at Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge Hotel that night.

Located at nearby Kangaroo Point, which was a short cab ride away, Story Bridge Hotel also recently launched its new Main St. Bar & Eatery, which offers a cool and casual dining experience.

But it was the hotel’s stunning, much-loved Deery’s Restaurant & Smokehouse where I was headed; this place is an absolute delight with its exceptional service, amazing food and warm, inviting interior. It’s quality dining, without the stuffiness.

The revitalised space mixes traditional and current influences, with the familiar warm and earthy timber décor given a facelift via more modern styling and furniture, floods of natural light and, the hero feature, an open ceiling creating a spacious vibe and exposing the original timber beams.

holiday, luxury escape, travel

The menu has also been given a contemporary update under executive chef Jason Walker and head chef Adam Clements, offering delicious, seasonally-inspired new culinary creations alongside Deery’s famous chargrilled steaks.

There, you can enjoy one of the restaurant’s indulgent autumnal dishes. My guest and I didn’t hold back, enjoying entrees, mains and a shared dessert. It was dining heaven! For the full menu, check out www.storybridgehotel.com.au.

holiday, luxury escape, travel

Happy as a clam, I headed back to my luxury abode, where you’re encouraged to enjoy access to the luxury lounge and dining alcove (pictured at top) and a wide verandah with its inviting reading nooks.

But my gorgeous ensuite and bath beckoned, not to mention that massive, inviting bed! Talk about sweet dreams – how good is it when you have a whole bed to yourself? Swoon.

Also included for each Heal House guest is a delicious continental buffet breakfast, featuring locally-sourced produce and gourmet homemade dishes for a mouth-watering start to the day. I heartily enjoyed my homemade bircher muesli, seasonal fruit salad and strong coffee.

All in all, I really wasn’t ready to leave Heal House and could have easily and happily stayed for a week. Healed, I was.
Do yourself a favour: book now. Visit www.healhouse.com.au or phone (07) 3358 3350.

February 17, 2015

Take Me Away: A Valentine’s Day Package Fit For a Queen

If you’re looking for an excuse for a Queensland getaway, Valentine’s Day on Saturday, February 14, is a damn fine time to pamper yourself (and your loved one). And this year, the romantic day for all lovers magically falls on a weekend. Mark it in your diary now, ladies.

Call me high maintenance, but I’m a huge fan of Valentine’s Day blowouts. Love should be celebrated!

RELATED: 7 Of The World’s Most Romantic Destinations

And if my husband is reading this, take notes! Being a Queenslander, this is my top pick of local escapes: Brisbane’s Emporium Hotel has announced two romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day 2015 – The Exquisite Valentine and The Enchanted Valentine, as well as an optional add-on, the custom-created Cinderella Experience.

Located at 1000 Ann Street, in the heart of Brisbane’s stylish Emporium precinct at Fortitude Valley, the multi-award winning Emporium Hotel was recently awarded Australia and Queensland’s Best Luxury Accommodation.

Valentine's Day, romantic date ideas, romantic getaways

The Exquisite Valentine package, from $499, includes overnight accommodation in a luxurious King Suite, valet parking, in-suite breakfast for two, Molton Brown toiletries, and a demi-bottle of Mumm Champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Alternatively, the Enchanted Valentine package, from $549, includes an overnight stay in a King Suite, a romantic turndown with candles and rose petals, in-suite breakfast for two, a bottle of Mumm Champagne, and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Packages are subject to availability, conditions apply.

Valentine's Day, romantic date ideas, romantic getaways

But wait – there’s more – together with leading shoe designer, Nat-Sui Shoes, Emporium Hotel is launching The Cinderella Experience this Valentine’s Day: a personal shoe styling and shopping session with one of Australia’s leading designers, Natalie Mainwaring herself (pictured), owner and designer at Nat Sui Shoes. Nat-Sui Shoes has adorned the feet of Oprah, Gayle King, Tara Moss, Deborah Hutton and many more women of style. The Cinderella Experience is included as a VIP benefit for all Valentine’s Day guests and requires booking through Emporium’s concierge. Swoon!

Valentine's Day, romantic date ideas, romantic getaways

Visit emporiumhotels.com.au for more information.

January 21, 2015

The World’s Most Romantic Island Getaways

Ever wanted to splurge your savings on a beautiful trip abroad with just your partner? Enjoy the finer things in life with a romantic getaway to just one of these unbelievable holiday destinations, where you can rekindle your romance and relax with a cocktail or two.

Corsica, France

Corsica is known worldwide for it’s stunning scenery and sightseeing, which is located just off the coast of France and Italy. This majestic island is not only the birthplace of Napoleon, but is filled with world-class boutiques, charming villages and amazing food and drinks.

The World's Most Romantic Island Getaways

Kauai, Hawaii

Nothing says romance quite like a relaxing trip to one of the many islands of Hawaii. Relax in the luxurious surroundings of the resort, enjoy the white-sand beaches and capture some of the Instagram-worthy sunsets.

The World's Most Romantic Island Getaways

Kangaroo Island, Australia

Why travel abroad when you can enjoy a slice of paradise in your own backyard? Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, located just south-west of Adelaide. Enjoy a swim on one of the picturesque northern beaches such as Stokes Bay, and get-up close and personal with the sea lions which are natives of Sea Bay.

The World's Most Romantic Island Getaways

Anguilla, Caribbean Islands

Explore the magical island of Anguilla which is home to elegant restaurants, white-sand beaches and unlimited amounts of water activities. Beach bars are also popular nightspots to unwind after a long day of relaxing by the sea.

The World's Most Romantic Island Getaways

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Home to crystal-clear beaches, breathtaking mountain scenery and elegant resorts which the Kardashian-Jenner clan even approve of, Bora Bora should definitely be at the top of your bucket list.

The World's Most Romantic Island Getaways

Images via Simpson Travel, Bali Hai, Win Wallpapers, Design Home, Amaze Tour

September 11, 2014

6 Reasons To Visit Paris

Often dubbed as the most romantic city in the world, Paris attracts a number of tourists searching for a romantic getaway with an added taste of culture from this iconic city. There is plenty to do, see and of course taste the local cuisine without even venturing down south to the French Riviera or into the countryside if you simply just don’t have the time. The French are known for their distinct style, and carefree way of life so grab a friend and check the following places off from your to-do list!

Food

You can’t visit Paris without sampling some of the local delicacies, right? Local cheese, wine and of course the infamous escargot cannot be passed up during your first trip to the capital of France. During the summer months, a variety of taste festivals are up and running so locals and tourists can sample some of the best food and drink that Paris has to offer.

Architecture

Many of the buildings around the city centre date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, particularly the Notre Dame Cathedral which was highly influenced by French Gothic architecture at the time. Located in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, visitors can access the cathedral any day of the year for a small fee.

Shopping and fashion

Don’t worry about saving your money for those duty-free airport purchases, head over to the Galeries Lafayette which is one of largest department stores in the city. Opened in 1912 with over 10 floors of shopping, you’re bound to leave with something you like. There are also plenty of specialty boutiques around the city, and also don’t forget to check out the local markets for some hidden gems and one of a kind purchases.

Sightseeing

Hop on a bike and cycle around The Eiffel Tower to make the most of your time, then take the elevator (or climb the 600 stairs) for an amazing view of the entire city.

Festivals

During the summer season, Paris is filled with festivals which attract tourists from all over the globe. Rock en Seine is a popular music festival on the Rue Oberkampf with international and local artists which make up just some of the large line-up. Head over to Montmartre for the annual Grape Harvest Festival which has been running since 1934. Celebrating winemaking, gastronomy and French folk music for everyone to enjoy.

Theme parks

If you’re travelling with children make sure to check out one of France’s most popular theme parks, Disneyland Paris. There are many rides which are unique to Paris, including the Crush Coaster which is one of the best attractions at the entire resort.

Image via Wikipedia

By Felicia Sapountzis

June 30, 2014

What men and women do for fun

What men and women do for fun

In the first-ever nationwide online Australian Pleasure Survey, 2,443 respondents answered what they enjoyed doing for summer, if their employer appreciated them, and how they wanted to be rewarded for a job well done.

It turns out that 73.0% of all respondents felt their employer generally or very much appreciated their efforts. But not if they got flowers! When asked what gift would be best for a job well done from their employer, flowers were perceived as the best reward by only 0.4% of women (and 0.2% of men), and nearly as unpopular were CD/DVD vouchers (1.2% and 1.7% respectively), movie vouchers (1.5% and 1.8% respectively) and food hampers (1.7% and 1.8% respectively).

The reward that 56.6% of you really want are fun things to do, such as a massage or a jet boat ride, with a dinner for two in second place (17.7%) and department store vouchers by 10.1% of all respondents.

And no surprises here: men and women enjoy their leisure time very differently which means you need to plan certain types of activities with your partner – and quite different ones for girlie get-together (of which 40.1% of all women compared to only 23.6% of men planned to do this summer).

The only favourite activities men and women seem to have in common are gourmet/ wine outings (of almost equal appeal to females and males (16.5% and 14.3% respectively), and outdoor/nature activities ( (22.5% and 27.1%). Fewer males (18.6%) than females (26.1%) want to go on romantic getaways, but at least they want to go!


The highest proportion of women (24.2%) chose pampering packages with other high-ranking choices being romantic getaways, dolphin/whale watching, adventure hot air ballooning, and not having to cook at all with the help of a personal chef all fantastic choices for a girlie get-together or hen’s event!

On the other hand, 12.2% of males voted for jet fighter flights as their favourite experience, with golf adventure, motor racing and, romantic getaways close behind.

February 6, 2004