A five-star hotel set on absolute beachfront. Travel Editor Susie Boswell enjoys a week of sheer luxury.
Bye bye to the backpacker/budget billet. And you can keep your caravan/camping. Mid-range hotels? Mediocrity!
OK, I’m kidding: every level of holiday accommodation has its merits. But when it comes to spoiling ourselves, when we want nothing but the best … the choices are sparse. Peppers Bale Salt at Kingscliff, on the far NSW north coast, is one of just three top-notch hotels anywhere between Brisbane and Sydney. And it’s the only one built right on the sandy oceanfront.
My family, friends and I are celebrating a rite of passage taking place on the Gold Coast but we don’t want to endure the traffic congestion, noise and late-night revelry. We don’t want the superficial glitz, the drunks, the fights, the sirens, the sometimes dodgy food, narrow one-way streets, stop lights, the frenetic after-dark atmosphere. Enough!
Peppers Bale is ideally located just minutes via the excellent Gold Coast Motorway from the s-e Queensland coast’s attractions (not far via freeway from Brisbane, for that matter) so it’s easy access to the theme parks for youngsters, casino shows if you must, and – the shopping!
Meanwhile, we enjoy the peaceful ambience a holiday is all about, including superb amenities such as the elite Golden Door Spa, free tennis and the opportunity to hire a bike (optional kiddie seat) or, for seniors, an open carriage with comfy bench and awning that can be pedalled by two. Here, the swimming pools don’t resemble bathing in the Ganges; there’s an adults-only pool, and heated, lagoon and wading pools for kids to enjoy, in cleanest crystal clear water. The meandering uncrowded golden beach is patrolled, its surf mostly gentle. The beach slopes gradually to the ocean, allowing tiny tots a safe spot to play in the shallows and offering leisurely walks along the sand when the tide’s out.
But we were delighted by more material things. A chilled lime cocktail, fresh fruit, macaroons and entertainment lounge on our exclusive check-in by a VIP concierge and free bright-lit underground security parking with numbered spaces right next to swift-arriving lifts for instant access with luggage to our apartment. (Mistakenly, I left a Gladstone bag on the ground there overnight, with camera, computer and personal items. I found it next morning hung over the rear-view mirror, $1000s-worth of contents intact.)
Our apartment, though, was the highlight: spacious (make that huge), sunlit, with full-length picture windows in two aspects over the ocean and a big protected balcony for sunbathing and entertaining. Excellent sound-proofing meant we didn’t have to keep the entertainment systems low and, isolated from any intrusive noise from outside, we felt this wasn’t an apartment as much as a private beach house. Walk-in wardrobe, big study with free efficient WiFi, laundry, fully-equipped luxury kitchen, digital TVs with complimentary Austar in sitting room and bedrooms and the best immaculate double spa bath with fragrant L’Occitane toiletries replenished daily. Yes, someone to make beds, change towels, put away the ironing board, renew the Twinings tea and hot chocolate and unstack the dishwasher daily, but arriving unobtrusively, like unseen fairies, whenever it suited us. And leaving behind a welcoming calming scented candle burning in the evening, or a basket of warm cookies. (Many hoteliers underestimate how these simple measures impress.)
Excellent dining is a feature of a stay at Bale, notably at the famous Fins, now installed here amid a bank of restaurants offering great variety of menus and price. A few kilometres away Kingscliff township offers lovely sidewalk café dining spots. Everything you want is on hand next to Bale, however, including a general store/IGA for forgotten items/self-catering supplies. Yes, there’s much more to say about Kingscliff-the Gold Coast than just the accommodation ; but it’s an essential of a successful break, above all, to be comfy with where you stay.
Susie was a guest of Mantra Resorts, operators of Peppers Balt Salt, Peppers Salt and Mantra on Salt on the NSW Tweed Coast, 15 minutes from Gold Coast/Coolangatta Airport. Reservations: 1300 737 444.