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Archive for April, 2008

Gwingana Health Resort

I have a confession, I’m a repeat offender when it comes to health retreats. Golden Door, Camp Eden, Chiva Som in Thailand and a couple of now-defunct Australian places; I can tick them all off. So I know what I’m getting myself into.

But I always find the first few hours somewhat awkward. You have to meet the other guests, have a health assessment and work out how to work your room.

But it’s not all about the shock of the new. Part of the problem is that by the time you get away, you’re in meltdown. Tetchy is a good word to describe my mood when I stumble out of the complimentary transfer into the fresh, gusty air of Gwinganna, half an hour from Broadbeach.

First impressions are favourable. It’s like an old-fashioned village with glassfronted shops, a church, cute cottages and even the original grandstand from the ‘Gabba spread through the trees of Mount Gwinganna.

It’s quaint but it works. The new building projects, including luxurious accommodation, a communal lounge/dining/pool area, fitness centre, lap pool and tennis courts, are well designed and crafted. By this time next year the new gym, spa and wellness centre will be complete, as will further rooms.

Thankfully, with 220 hectares, the construction is well removed from the accommodation.

The health assessment on Sunday evening is unlike any other. No huffing and puffing here, just a request to bend this way and that, a couple of simple stretches and that was it.

All in keeping with the philosophy of promoting functional movement over bone-crunching, heart-pounding exercise.

Just before dinner, the first lecture of the week brings the 30 guests and general manager Sharon Kolkka together. Ms Kolkka knows a good percentage of the assembled audience.

Most encountered her at the Golden Door, where she was program director.

She tells us what to expect. We will be up in the pre-dawn, there will be tai chi, followed by a walk. We will be fed, talked to, watered, massaged and coddled. There will be exercises and games. Afternoons are for rest and relaxation – massages, treatments, reading a book, sleeping. “Dreamtime”, she calls it. She warns us that on the second or third day we will be grumpy as hell as the organic food works and the detox kicks in. She promises we will learn a thing or two about good health, optimum movement, laughter and a few other things besides. And, she says, above all else we will have fun. All of which turns out to be true.

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Great Barrier Reef Resort

This resort on its own 726-acre island at the northern end of the Whitsunday archipelago is enjoying its second, make that third, heyday. Adventure writer and keen fisherman Zane Grey was a regular visitor in the 1930s, while the early 1980s saw a tourism boom here as Australians started to embrace the idea of luxury vacationing. The latest reinvention, in 2002, ushered in a breezy, chintz-free style that has given the modernist low-rise a new lease on life. Meandering along the sprawling man-made lagoon on the beachfront, the large 256-room resort has a beach-club feel that appeals to five-star first-timers and honeymooners.

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Eden au Lac

With its enviable location on the shores of Lake Zurich, this neo-Baroque hotel dates to the early 1900s and still has the scent of rich history about it. From the outside, it looks like an imposing Swiss grande dame, but don’t be fooled. The Eden has been managed by the same family since the 1960s, and with just 50 rooms, the ambience and experience are intimate and familiar. And the views are what staying in a Swiss hotel is all about.

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Château de Bagnols

A magical mystery of moats, drawbridges and lavender-scented formal gardens, this is in essence a grand home rather than a hotel of any category. The château itself dates to the 13th century, but was gorgeously restored beginning in 1987. Today it’s a part of the Rocco Forte portfolio, so not only is it expertly managed, but it’s imbued with history everywhere you turn. Then step outside and you’re surrounded by vineyards, forests and hills — and deep in the heart of Beaujolais country.

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Hotel Cala di Volpe

This glittering seaside resort, designed by international playboy Karim Aga Khan IV in 1962 to resemble a rambling fishing village, is the ultimate address on the Costa Smeralda, a jet-set destination on the northeast coast of Sardinia. Staying at this more-than-$1,000-a-night property during the island’s summer high season is like jumping into a Ferrari wearing Prada from head to toe; you’re telling the world you’ve made it, Italian style. European luminaries like Princess Caroline of Monaco have been known to sail into the property for lunch, while other boldface names (paging Diddy) are content to set anchor offshore.

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Dreams Resorts & Spa

Dreams Resorts & Spas offers couples, friends and families opulent luxury in the most highly desired locations, in one all-inclusive package. Dreams ates include accommodations, gourmet meals, premium brand drinks, 24-hour room service, and use of all resort amenities, water sports, nightly entertainment, taxes, and gratuities. With an array of amenities for every age and interest, with supervised clubs that keep kids and teens enthralled, Dreams Resorts & Spas are not just about getting away; they’re about getting together. Vacation packages to Dreams Resorts & Spas are available through Judy and Maria’s Travel, Inc.

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Goa’s resort villa

In between our New Delhi and Bombay company visits, we squeezed in three days in Goa, a former Portuguese settlement that boasts the world’s second beach haven after Spain’s Ibiza. This beach paradise is home to countless number of beaches and resort operations from some of India’s and the world’s best hotel resort chains. This interlude proved to be the perfect way to unwind from out New Delhi experience and prepare us for our tight Bombay schedule that left us with little tile to enjoy city life.

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