It's not just hotels, cruise lines, and tour suppliers who constantly supply us travel advisors with the means to further our knowledge. Some of the most valuable learning tools at our disposal come from both country or region-specific Tourist Boards.
This week both myself and Kristin on the team completed training with Tourism Australia and are now fully certified Aussie Specialist Agents, and we continue here every day to make the most of our "planning" downtime, to enable us to be the best we can. I maintain that our connections are the most important key to our true expertise, but in the absence of visiting destinations right now, some online learning opportunities just can't be missed.
Now Australia may have the toughest Covid lockdown in the world (according to my brother in Melbourne) and it could be a full year from now until we are are allowed to visit again, but I promise you the wait will be worth it, and with the Aussie summer coming in our winter, the end of 2021 could be extremely busy Down Under.
The Top 5 below may just inspire you to start the planning conversation.
Before I attempt to tempt you with Australia, a travel news item caught my attention this week. It proved to me that you really need to read the small print, especially when it comes to travel terms and conditions. Most headlines reported that US airlines have now "waved goodbye to change fees", an exciting and welcome premise to say the least. However, the true details are as follows. Most airlines already had this in place for any booking made until the end of 2020. Beyond that the amended terms are for to flights to:
- Any of the 50 U.S. states
- Puerto Rico
- U.S. Virgin Islands
Yes, great news, but it does not apply to any other international destinations...yet.
One other item: there is a great new website resource HERE that helps decipher the minefield of determining which countries are open, reopening, and what the exact entry requirements and protocols are for each.
Now on to the topic at hand. Luxury Lodges of Australia is a collection of the absolute best high-end lodges and camps, located across diverse regions of Australia (map above).
The lodges are much more than just a great place to stay. Delivery of connection to place is key to the purpose of each lodge. Between them the lodges deliver over 250 individual experiences and activities, all created to give guests a genuine sense of place, with the luxury of privileged access. They are constantly innovating, to meet the curiosity, adventure-seeking spirit, and desire for real engagement by their guests. Collectively they offer memorable and often life-changing experiences in Australia’s most inspiring and extraordinary locations.
Here's our somewhat futile attempt at picking the Top 5!
Top 5 - Luxury Lodges of Australia
1. Qualia, Great Barrier Reef (above and below)
We start in the NE of the country at Qualia, located on secluded Hamilton Island and a unique expression of world-class luxury with the perfect vantage point for exploring all the Whitsundays has to offer. Explore the diversity of the Great Barrier Reef's marine life with a snorkeling or diving adventure and cruise to the pure white sands of Whitehaven Beach, a 4-mile stretch of unspoiled and unsurpassed beauty
2. One & Only, Wolgan Valley (above and below)
We head due south to an ultra-luxury retreat, located 2.5 hours northwest of Sydney in the majestic World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains region. Set on 7,000 acres of conservation and wildlife reserve, the resort blends absolute luxury and seclusion with a
quintessentially Australian bush experience.
Nestled between two national parks, the resort offers a unique blend of solitude, native wildlife, dramatic natural beauty, conservation and heritage combined with unsurpassed facilities and outstanding food and wine.
Occupying just one per cent of the total land area, the resort features forty elegantly appointed, free-standing villas, each with its own swimming pool, double-sided fireplace and private verandah with stunning views of the Wolgan Valley's rugged sandstone escarpments.
Note - also the winner of Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards 2019 in the category of Sustainable Tourism Leadership.
3. Longitude 131°, Uluru
I know my brother will curse me for skipping Lake House, Daylesford which is close to Melbourne, but we are heading instead to the center of the country and the mythical World Heritage listed wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Timeless and enriching, Longitude 131° lies at its gateway, and offers an essential experience of Australia’s spiritual heartland, with a true sense of stillness and beauty in the desert landscape, rich in culture, heritage and history. Safari-style tented pavilions are recreated for the modern traveller to float over the rust-red dunes, offering unparalleled views of Uluru’s changing lights. Contemporary furnishings, artworks by local indigenous artists and an array of mod cons dispel any illusion of roughing it.
4. Cape Lodge, Margaret River (below)
Now we're heading to the west coast, just south of Perth. Positioned in the heart of the great wine region of Margaret River, Cape Lodge attracts those who are seeking a private, stylish and sophisticated retreat, and those with a yearning to discover outstanding food and wine. Cape Lodge neighbors include the great wineries of Vasse Felix, Moss Wood, Pierro and Cullen. There are just 22 romantically secluded rooms and a magnificent 5 bedroom private luxury Residence. The superb Cape Lodge Restaurant- long one of the great dining rooms in Western Australia offers classically prepared French-influenced country fare showcasing the best of Margaret River’s produce sourced from local farms, the kitchen garden and the freshest of seafood from nearby pristine oceans.
5. Bamurru Plains, Kakudu National Park (above and below)
This is an extraordinary bush experience on the edge of Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory. The Top End of the Northern Territory experiences some of the greatest climatic extremes (wet and dry particularly) of any region of Australia. The coastal floodplains of northern Australia are home to prolific bird and wildlife (Australia's answer to the Okavango Delta) whilst Kakadu and Arnhem Land are the heartland of the country’s aboriginal culture. This ecologically sensitive luxury camp focuses on environmental sustainability while offering the highest levels of comfort.
Bamurru’s team of passionate field guides offer a variety of activities from the lodge, including cruises on the Sampan River to spot crocodiles, fishing trips, four-wheel drive safaris, scenic helicopter flights over the floodplains and coastline, and tours to the rock art galleries of Arnhem Land.
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