Australia: 5 of the best luxury retreats

Australia has come a long way on the accommodation front in recent years, offering an enviable range of options for all types of travellers.

But it’s in the luxury category where the country really holds its own, with some of the most beautiful and original properties around – perfect for those with cash to splash. However, if a client walked through your door with a wad of notes and a blank agenda would you know where to send them? Here are a few of our favourites:

1. Best for service

Where?Bedarra Island, Queensland.

Why?With a staff to guest ratio of 1:1 your wish is their command. With just 16 villas catering for 32 guests, service is Bedarra’s forte. Clients are whisked to luxury villas by boat where mini-bars are stocked with their favourite tipple and a bottle of Bollinger or Moët awaits. Everything is tailor-made to each guest’s wishes, including beach hampers brimming with fresh seafood and wine.

What else?Villas are split into six categories with the two most exclusive (Pavilion Villas) offering private decks with plunge pools, daybeds, dining areas and evening deliveries of ice and canapés.

All villas have hammocks; a free mini-bar stocked according to taste, including ice-cream; and a CD and DVD player. The beaches and surrounding bays are perfect for sailing, snorkelling and scuba diving. Or clients can simply hop on to a motorised dinghy to explore.

Sample product:Gold Medal Holidays offers one night in a Pavilion Villa from £622 per person twin-share including breakfast, lunch and dinner in May.

2. Best for views

Where?Blue, Wooloomooloo Bay, Sydney, New South Wales.

Why?This five-star hotel is perfectly situated for spectacular views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Formally a W Hotel, Blue is now owned and operated by Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, which made its name building luxury hotels in India. Voted third best hotel for location in Australasia in the Condé Nast Traveller Gold List 2005, the 100-room property is situated on the Finger Wharf at Wooloomooloo Bay (try saying that after a few beers), and within walking distance from all the main sights. The Water Bar has floor-to-ceiling windows offering uninterrupted skyline views to be enjoyed with a cocktail.

What else? With nine room categories ranging from split-level loft suites to double bedrooms, there’s plenty of choice. Each room has beamed ceilings, chocolate-brown furnishings, king-size beds with goose down duvets and pillows, Aveda bathroom products, cordless telephones, a CD player and broadband Internet.

Hotel facilities include an indoor heated pool, an outdoor sun deck, a fitness centre complete with Chakra Spa, meeting facilities, the award-winning Water Bar and a Blue Café serving breakfast, coffee and fresh juices.

Sample product: Travel 2 offers one night from £75 per person twin-share on a room-only basis in May.

3. Best for a cosy experience

Where?Cradle Mountain Lodge, Tasmania.

Why? If ever there was a property that could double up as the lodge in Twin Peaks, it’s Cradle Mountain. Situated in the heart of the Tasmanian forest, the scented pine trees, curling wood smoke and waterfalls are so eerily similar to the set of the David Lynch TV series you almost expect to spot Agent Cooper eating a slice of cherry pie.

The property consists of 86 private cabins tucked away in the wilderness. Each has a king-size bed and vast views of the forest, while spa suites have open fires, a balcony and spa baths. The elevated presidential suite has floor-to-ceiling windows and a large tea-tree oil spa on a remote wooden deck which offers complete privacy. Suites have CD players and complimentary hot chocolate plungers. On arrival, guests receive handmade cookies and a glass of port to enjoy in front of the fire. Perfect for watching the snow come down.

What else?The main building houses the lodge’s restaurant where an open fire forms the focal point. Guests can visit the walk-in wine cellar next door and choose a bottle to drink with their meal. The large spa cabin has a huge outdoor hot tub and offers a range of treatments using pine and tea-tree oil from the forest.

Sample product:Virgin Holidays offers an eight-night Tasman Explorer tour taking in Launceston, Hobart, Port Arthur and two nights at Cradle Mountain Lodge from £759 per person twin-share in May. The price includes transfers and room-only accommodation.

4. Best for something different

Longtitude 131Where?Longitude 131, the Outback.

Why?While the Australians embrace camping with gusto, we Brits tend to shy away from such adventures for fear of getting wet. But there’s no chance of your tent blowing over at this bolthole in the middle of the Red Centre.

Each of its 15 elevated wooden boxes has a white flowing canopy to give the illusion of camping. Set atop an isolated sand dune on the border of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, rooms pay tribute to early Australian pioneers with visual narratives on the walls.

Designed with 360° windows, the rooms offer views of the sun rising and setting over Uluru – at the touch of a button all four blinds raise electronically. With neutral, earthy décor, private bathrooms with showers, air-conditioning, CD players and tea and coffee-making facilities, this is camping with a difference.

What else? The Dune House offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a communal dining setting. It also has a library with a comprehensive collection of books, a TV and DVD player and a well-stocked bar where guests can help themselves to a selection of Australian wines, beers and spirits.

Sample product: Qantas Holidays offers a person-per-night rate of £402 twin-share including private transfers, a selection of specially designed tours, all meals and alcoholic beverages in May. A minimum stay of two nights applies.

5. Best for spa treatments

Daintree Eco Lodge and SpaWhere?Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa, Queensland.

Why? Winner of a multitude of awards, the Daintree offers a tree-house resort in the world’s oldest living rainforest.

Responsible for sustainable eco-tourism and indigenous development, the spa uses ginger, ochre, mud, vanilla and coconut from the rainforest to soothe, heal and energise.

Aboriginal massage techniques and a large selection of treatments including body wraps, facials, meditation and a modern Vichy spa are what make the Daintree so special. Drinking water comes straight from a secluded waterfall where several treatments also take place.

What else? The resort has 15 tree-house villas scattered across the forest, each with a private bathroom , an outdoor balcony with large Jacuzzi baths, a TV and CD player and Internet connection.

There’s also an outdoor swimming pool and sun deck, licensed Julaymba restaurant serving tropical reef fish and an aboriginal art gallery. The resort can also organise excursions for guests wanting to dive, snorkel, fish, horse ride or bird watch in the local area.

Sample product:Kuoni offers one night from £118 per person twin-share including breakfast in May.

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