Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

HOOD: Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains NSW
VIBE: How’s the serenity
PROPERTY SIZE: 40 free-standing villas on 7,000 pristine acres
ROOM STYLE: Aussie country chic
WE LOVE: the comprehensive range of activities on offer for guests (with superb kids ranger programs!) and the environmental ethos amongst all staff.

WORDS BY: Dave Goldman

It took my breath away immediately on arrival

Only a three hour drive from Sydney and nestled between two magnificent national parks (Wollemi National Park and Gardens of Stone National Park in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area), Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley sits within its own 7,000 acre conservation reserve – offering a quintessentially Australian bush experience.

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Lodge with the locals

Upon arrival, we were met at the property entrance by one of their R&M Williams clad staff – this nod to the iconic Aussie country label carries through to all staff uniforms. From there, we were transferred by private 4WD to the 1832 Heritage Homestead for check-in and a warm tea in the Homestead’s Valley Bar and Terrance lounge.

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Beauty personified

ROOM

An ideal retreat for families, the heritage designed Wollemi Villa feels like a private lodge or house. It features a large dining room, lounge area, gas fireplace, two bedrooms, 2.5 luxurious bathrooms, and temperature controlled private indoor/outdoor pool. Outstanding.

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Wollemi Villa living room
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Wollemi Villa dressing room

We quickly checked it all out and jumped on our complimentary bikes to acquaint ourselves with the property and fill our lungs with the crisp mountain air. I found myself constantly looking up at the magnificent, regal sandstone escarpments that envelope and border Wolgan Valley. You really feel like you are in a real life water colour painting with an ever changing palette reflecting the whims of the clouds, weather, and time of the day.

I can only imagine how many artists have been inspired in the past and will have their creativity ignited in the future when in these surroundings.

DINING

All produce for guests at Wolgan is brought in from within a 160km radius – underlining a commitment to supporting local farmers and businesses.

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Private picnics can be enjoyed across the property

The food and beverage options are spot on – all meals are taken in different dining venues throughout The Homestead.

The Wolgan Dining Room, blessed with wonderful valley views, hosts daily breakfast and dinner to a level of perfection and class one would expect from the One&Only Resorts. Lunch in the Country Kitchen, located on the lower floor of the Homestead, was a daily highlight – I am a huge fan of the Ploughman’s Lunch and this was the best I have ever had. The home-made sausage rolls were a hit with the family – the lunch menu in general perfect for a family on the go in the beautiful countryside.

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Wolgan Valley showcases the best in local produce

ACTIVITIES

The highlight of Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is the comprehensive range of activities and experiences on offer and how well suited this property is for family and in particular multi-generational travel.

There are three activity tiers to choose from: scheduled at no charge, signature, and private touring at cost.

While we were in the Spa (more about this in a moment), our kids enjoyed a ‘Wolgan Ranger’ activity: a small 4WD escort around part of the property seeking out wildlife like kangaroos, wallaroos and wombats, and discovering remnants of a tree that had only days earlier been struck by lightning (the kids are still talking about this).

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A river running through Wolgan Valley’s 7,000 acre reserve

Wolgan Valley is nature at its best – raw, honest and educational.

The highlight was a 3 hour ‘All Terrain Aussie Adventure’ where guests are escorted to the fringe of the property on all terrain vehicles. There we ‘made camp’ by a small river, lit a fire, made  damper, and brewed some billy tea over the open flames. Once done we made our way home in the company of hundreds of kangaroos jumping around us.

I haven’t had this sort of connection with the land and its animals since Northern Africa many years ago.

SPA

After a hard day getting your country on the Spa at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is a must. There are six secluded, double treatment rooms all offering a magical Australian spa experience in one of the country’s most beautiful surroundings imaginable. Alternatively, treatments can be arranged in the comfort and privacy of your accommodation.

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One of six secluded treatment rooms

The Spa offers an expansive menu: face therapies, body rituals, a host of massages, and signature experiences including a four hour sunset ritual treatment.

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Wolgan Valley uses chemical free products made by Sodashi

For guests wanting a more active experience, there is a postcard perfect pool, fitness centre, all-weather tennis courts, and of course horses and bikes. This resort caters for all whims and wants.

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is the perfect destination for Australian and International luxury travellers wanting a true Australian country experience with all the trimmings.

Wolgan delivered on all fronts when it came to looking after children. Nothing was too difficult – the focus was exclusively on making sure all guests, regardless of age, had the best experience at all times.

We can’t wait to return.

 Book with us for the following amenities:

  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • $100 USD Equivalent Resort or Hotel credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

COMBINE

Imagine combining this country experience with One&Only Hayman Island (Barrier Reef) in the Whitsunday Islands, Queensland?

Contact us for the ultimate One&Only Australia Resorts combined package. The ultimate Australian luxury experience awaits.

The Datai Langkawi

HOOD: Teluk Datai
VIBE: Zen
PROPERTY SIZE: 125 rooms
ROOM STYLE: Indigenous
WE LOVE: The beach. National Geographic has rated Datai Bay as one of the top 10 beaches in the world.

WORDS BY: Ana Wilkinson – visited Nov 2015

When the hotel transfer, with boys aged 8 to 6 is a pleasure, you know you’re set for a memorable stay; our driver could not have been any more helpful or professional. On arrival we were greeted by a warm welcome, a cool towel and a cold drink, then directed to check-in at the serene lobby lounge, overlooking the Andaman Sea. It was at this moment we realised we were about to get the keys to a truly unique holiday.

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The stunning architecture and deep rain forest location created an unforgettable backdrop to the jungle orchestra. We were overwhelmed by an immediate sense of peace and tranquility, a blessing on a relatively short stay (5 nights).

The unique Datai experience is one that lingers long after your stay and will no doubt ensure that you return again and again.

ACCOMMODATION

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Our first 3 nights were accommodated in one of the superb Rain Forest Villas, which share a connecting rear deck with the Villa next door – perfect for multi generational holidays. Generous in size and luxuriously appointed, the Villas have every conceivable modern convenience plus many added extras. The cavernous bathroom is amazingly executed, with the finest details well considered. The high ceilings and timber paneling in the main room are design highlights and provide a lovely refuge from the midday heat, the occasional tropical downpour, and the nocturnal cacophony.

CULINARY

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With the bar set so impossibly high it is a real credit to the Datai that their cuisine is the equal of the surroundings. Breakfast is an experience to savour. We loved having the knowledgeable waiting staff guide us through a treasure trove of international delicacies, each one as authentic as it was delicious. From the flakiest roti, croissant, or Danish pastry to the creamiest chawan mushi, foie gras or lobster omelette – there simply is no finer way to start the day. Except, maybe, the addition of a glass of complimentary champagne or a stiff Bloody Mary.

ACTIVITIES

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Days were invariably whiled away by the jaw-dropping beach club. The pool, bar and restaurant perfectly compliment what is surely one of the world’s premier beaches. Here you can try a spot of stand-up paddling to work off the breakfast excess, kayak the 1.3km sea-straight to your own deserted tropical island, or take out a catamaran and ride the ocean breeze. If golf is more to your taste, the course will leave you almost wanting to tee off into the water hazards. For those who prefer their adventure in a book, a few hours nestled poolside or under a tree on a sun lounge is just the tonic!

… as is an actual gin and tonic, which, naturally, they do to perfection.

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EVENING ENTERTAINMENT

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Nights at the Datai revolve around dining at any of their world-class restaurants. True regional taste can be found perched high in the tree-tops at the Pavilion, an impeccable rendition of Southern Thai cuisine. Similarly the Mamak fare on offer at the Gulai is sublime. For those who find their villa too much of a thriller, even the in-room dining at the Datai is a cut above, arriving steaming hot and fragrant, and invariably delightful.

HIGHLIGHT

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We were extremely fortunate to spend our final two nights at the exquisite two bedroom Beach Villa. Words alone seem inadequate to convey its magnificence. It really needs to be seen to be believed. The private entry, discreet butler service and four connecting absolute beachfront pavilions combine to create an opulent sanctuary that leaves you wanting to stay forever. With its state of the art audio visual installations, elegant contemporary design and seamlessly integrated indoor, outdoor living areas it’s no wonder the Beach Villas are teaming with birdsong and calling monkeys – even the local wildlife think this hotel is worth shouting about.

BOOK WITH US FOR

  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • One Balinese Massage for two, once during stay at The Spa

STAY 3 PAY 2 IN A LUXURIOUS BEACH VILLA

Stay 2 consecutive nights in one of our luxurious Beach Villas and enjoy your third night with Datai’s compliments!

Veiled by coastal vegetation and surrounded by tropical gardens amidst a 10-million year old rainforest, the lavish Beach Villas offer complete privacy, and with a butler at your service, the ultimate luxury experience.

This offer is valid for stays after 29 February 2016.

A luxurious escape at The Resort at Pedregal

HOOD: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
VIBE: Mexicana resort with Style
PROPERTY SIZE: 24 mountainside and pristine oceanfront acres
ROOM STYLE: Stylish, functional and spacious
WE LOVE: The plunge pool on your private terrace, the fabulous spa and the Watermelon Mojitos!
INSIDER TIP: Don’t fill up at lunch, complimentary guacamole, pico de gallo and homemade chips are delivered to your room with Coronitas each afternoon

WORDS BY: Anthony Goldman

A week prior to check-in, Ricardo, our personal concierge contacted us via email, offering to book our restaurants, touring and anything else we desired. Ricardo became our personal assistant and our itinerary was send to us before we left home. Nice.

You enter The Resort at Pedregal through a tunnel. It reminds me of a pre-ride experience at a theme-park – an escape from what is outside – and a re-birth as you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our welcome chilled Margaritas set the tone for a great stay at one of the best resorts we have visited.

The hotel is ‘carved’ into the mountain, facing the Pacific Ocean. Different lounging/pool areas and accommodation towers give the impression that there are only a handful of people at the Resort. I’m told the hotel is at 70% occupancy during our low-season stay. You feel secluded from the hustle of Cabo.

The room was spacious with all the amenities, including a full bottle of Tequila. The bathrooms are very large with a wonderful bath and a shower-space big enough for 5 people (a Fiesta!). The terrace with plunge pool adds to your sense space. Complimentary wifi and a daily delivery of Guacamole, Salsa and 2 Coronitas (mini-me Corona beer) are wonderful touches.

We ate dinner at el Farralon (meaning  “a rock that comes out of the ocean”), tucked into the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Sipping our Champagne from the newly opened Champagne Bar, we listen to the cracking of waves onto the rocks below. This is a great steak and seafood restaurant, and by Los Cabos standards, not too expensive. 

Our ceviche and soup as starters were tasty, followed by perfect grilled fish. It would be remiss of me not to mention the chocolate doughnuts with a raspberry dipping sauce for dessert.

My wife disappeared for a couple of hours to the Luna y Mar Spa, only to return to announce she “had been to heaven and back”. We have visited numerous spas in Asia. This Spa is wonderful, so I was told. Her massage hit the mark and the surroundings were calm and stimulating. A subsequently inspected the Spa – the Mexicana atmosphere is truly special.

The service here is very good. The staff know what they are doing and clearly have had time to undertake extra training whilst closed last year due to Hurricane Odile. The resort looks brand-new, despite open for six years.

Our visit to Los Cabos was short & sweet. The hotel staff happy that the tourists have returned and ready to support their number one economic lifeline, tourism. Be prepared to spend 99% of your time within the resorts. There are limited incentives to leave your resort – but I suppose, why would you want to leave?

AMENITIES: (book with us for)

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • For guests in the hotel, complimentary full breakfast daily in Don Manuel’s, two per bedroom (including all suites)
  • $100 USD Equivalent Spa Services credit, to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Uber-Mexican Style at the One&Only Palmilla

HOOD: Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico
VIBE: Serene with a twist of energy and fun
PROPERTY SIZE: 173 guestrooms
ROOM STYLE: Elegant with Mexican accents
WE LOVE: the service standards, the Mexican flavours including the coconut margaritas!
WORDS BY: Anthony Goldman

From the moment we drove into the porte-cochère, we know we were in for a special experience. Our welcome playful popsicles set the tone for this luxurious Mexican sojourn in this exclusive hideaway. 

Our room was spacious and had all the amenities one would expect at one of the world’s top resort locations. Very tasteful with Mexican old-style accents and handicrafts scattered throughout. One feels an interior decorator had the time of their life when commissioning the rooms. All guest rooms here have views towards the sea, offering wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean or the Sea of Cortez from a private balcony.

Our personal butler welcomed us to the resort, complete with tequila, fresh fruit and evening canapés delivered to the room.  He was always there to assist with reservations, tour arrangements and anything else that tickles your fancy.

The food here was excellent. We ate at Agua by Larbi which features the renowned Mexican cuisine of the award-winning Executive Chef Larbi Dahrouch. A blend of Mexican and Moroccan flavours provide a party for your taste buds.

The signature guacamole and hummus washed down with a chilled coconut margarita is a must!

The refresh after Hurricane Odile in 2014 destroyed parts of the hotel and allowed One&Only Palmilla to welcome guests back to a resort with a number of new elements, including the new steakhouse, SEARED created in collaboration with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, completely refurbished guest rooms and suites, and new outdoor lounging areas with panoramic ocean views.

The service was outstanding, complete with pool butlers, refreshing our iced water and facial spray. If you’re looking for a special experience, only 2.5 hours flight from LAX, consider One&Only Palmilla. Your little Mexico experience as close to home as you can get.

AMENITIES: (book with us for)

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests
  • 30 minute Virtuoso Exclusive Spa Experiences per booking (One per person)
  • A set of Aromatherapy Candles (His & Hers)
  • Early check-in/late check-out – subject to availability

Honeymooning in Paradise – Cocoa Island by COMO

‘HOOD: Private island, Maldives
VIBE: Classy-chill
PROPERTY SIZE: 33 over water suites and villas
ROOM STYLE: Private
WE LOVE: Everything about it!

WORDS BY: Gloria Gammo, Luxury Travel Stylist, GG Inspired

When I was younger I came across an island in the Maldives that I vowed to honeymoon at when I found my love… 

This was a bucket list trip for me and exceeded all of my very high expectations. From the moment you land on Cocoa and feel the sand beneath your feet, you’re instantly relaxed. The setting, a private sandbar island surrounded by endless expanses of beautiful clear blue water, is mind-blowing.

 The northern part of the island is so amazing at low tide; it feels like you are walking on water. The food was so delicious with lots to choose from, we particularly loved the COMO Shambhala menu, as it was so fresh. The spa treatment was very relaxing and was well needed after a long plane ride. The COMO staff are super friendly and everything is very chilled out and calm. I loved not having to catch another plane to get to the island (like most parts of the Maldives). We would go back in a heartbeat and are so excited for more of GG Inspired’s newlywed clients who are heading there later this year.

The property boasts a 25m infinity-edge swimming pool and a Hydrotherapy pool for those not content with swimming off their over water suite.

ROOMS:
Inspired by Dhoni boats, each room has its own private terrace, with direct access to the water and uninterrupted views to the horizon. Interiors are minimalist but on theme with white walls and wooden furniture. The largest room category; the COMO Villa incorporates two bedrooms.

SPA:
The COMO Shambhala Retreat has three single massage pavilions with outdoor shower garden and one double massage pavilion with outdoor shower/tub. This spa is incredible! Try an Ayurvedic massage treatment, where they pour oil all over you with massage. The oil that they use is concocted based on how you answer a series of questions.

DINING:
The island’s only restaurant, Ufaa, serves all meals. They have an indoor and outdoor part, both are lovely. Ufaa serves up themed dinner nights a few times a week such as seafood and Indian. They also offer COMO Shambhala cuisine, incorporating organic ingredients for those who like healthy options.

There is a great beach bar called Faru which serves happy hour cocktails daily from 5-6pm. It’s very chilled out and has a great menu of beers, wines, and cocktails.

LOCATION:
Cocoa Island is only a 40 min speedboat ride south of Male. The island is known locally as Makunufushi, and is located among South Malé’s coral atolls.

Follow Gloria’s travel experiences here: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Fun + Cool Factor = W Singapore – Sentosa Cove

HOOD: Sentosa Island
VIBE: Hip, Trendy, Fashion conscious crowd
PROPERTY SIZE: 240 rooms
ROOM STYLE: Contemporary + Fun!
WE LOVE: Location, ‘Insider’ service and the 1300 sqm ‘WET’ pool (with underwater speakers of course).

WORDS BY: Dave Goldman.
The luxurious W Sentosa at Sentosa Cove is all about fun (part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts). I stayed here with my family last year and it was great to be back to experience what this hotel has to offer. This hotel is within the lively coastal area of Sentosa (Singapore’s resort Island which is connected to Singapore via a causeway. A quick 10 min drive to the shops, tourist attractions and business district). Opened in 2012, this property is perfect for couples, families and corporate (great conference facilities!) travellers. I was welcomed with a big smile from Cara, the wonderful ‘ W Insider’ on site. All W Hotels across the planet have ‘Insiders’ (a super concierge service) who are able to suggest the ‘best of the best’ services of the city that the W is located within, make restaurant reservations, assist with any need during your stay and generally have the low-down on what and where you should be hanging out. I love it. It’s really is like your own personalised concierge service.

I was placed in a ‘Wonderful’ Room at W Singapore, a lovely 40sqm mix of art, fashion, purple colour and bespoke furnishings. For those W fans who want to try something a bit different, I would lock in one of the ‘Away’ suites located within the relaxing (and you may never want to leave)  ‘Away’ Spa. These rooms have their own private entrance from the Spa, windows that open (win) and even have their own terrace with private plunge pool. They are really heavenly and are perfect for honeymooners or couples wanting to escape into their own world (with all of W Sentosa’s services close at hand!). My highlight meals was of course breakfast at ‘The Kitchen Table’, a great concept involving a few cooking stations to cater for all tastes and needs and the delicious ‘Skirt’, a wonderful steakhouse restaurant with the works.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and look forward to returning soon! Thank you to the fantastic GM Stephane who really shines at W Singapore – Sentosa Cove. It’s great to see a hotel run by such a passionate and dynamic hotelier and you really feel Stephane’s influence amongst all the team at this property. They clearly enjoy working with such an awesome leader at the helm. Make sure to visit soon to have your own W experience.

AMENITIES: (book with us for)

  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • A spa credit to the value of USD100
  • Free WIFI

Wonderful Whitsundays!

The beautiful Whitsunday Islands in Queensland have always been a favourite of mine and I have been lucky enough to visit many times over the years. I was very fortunate to visit the magnificent qualia on Hamilton Island and the One&Only Hayman Island a couple of weeks ago for a few days and I am still in awe of the experience. Continue reading