Tag Archives: travel

Alli discovers the true meaning of “family-friendly fun”

25 Mar

Grand Mercure Twin Waters on the lagoon

A few weeks ago, Genine challenged me to take three glorious days off – no email, no phone calls, no work. Sounds simple, but as a “poor me” workaholic from way back, I find it super difficult to switch off.I needed a mini break. I needed time with my beautiful son and husband.

I needed time to play and laugh and giggle and breathe.We needed to get away to somewhere without a lap top and work files! So, we headed to one of our favourite places in the world, the Sunshine Coast, thanks to the generosity of the  4.5 star Grand Mercure Apartments Twin Waters.

Now, I’m going to be frank. We hadn’t really considered staying at Twin Waters. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fabulous resort, but that’s the problem. It’s a resort. And we’re more of an apartment / holiday house family. Typically, resort-type rooms don’t really suit a young family who likes to spread out.

Since having our son, we hadn’t considered a Twin Waters holiday. That was my problem – I was thinking only of the Novotel Twin Waters, the Grand Mercure’s neighbour. I wasn’t aware that right next door was heaven for families.


Here’s the deal. The Novotel is all about family fun. Activities-a-go-go. There’s the lake and its many water faring activities – kayaking, sailing, trampolining (although it was closed for maintenance on our visit). There’s sandcastle building for the little ones. There are bikes to hire and several pools to swim in. There’s a kids’ club. There are organised activities each and every day to suit children of all ages. And there are three restaurants and a bar.Honestly, it’s the perfect place to take an almost-three-year-old for a mini break. But, as I discovered, you don’t have to stay at the Novotel to access these activities.

Staying at the Grand Mercure comes with complete access to the resort, so you can choose to stay in a self-contained apartment or beach house and still make the most of the activities at the resort, as we did on our stay.

The bedrooms are spacious, with an ensuite off the master (with the most fabulous bath tub!). Our room had a beautiful balcony that overlooked the resort’s lagoon, complete with barbeque – perfect for a young family with a toddler who his the sack at 7:30pm, as we could throw a few steaks on the barbeque, open a bottle of wine and enjoy the serenity. Which is exactly what we did.

View from our room

But the best bit for me, a try-hard cook, was the kitchen. Sure, it was super big with all the shiny equipment you’d expect from a quality apartment. But the devil is in the detail. You name it; it was hidden away in a drawer or cupboard. Platters galore (hate it when you have to use a dinner plate as a cheese platter!), every utensil known to man, and about a million different kinds of glasses. Heaven. However, the real heaven for me was the time-off with my boys.

We sailed.


We played in the sand.

Sand play!

We kayaked. We swam in the pool (the Grand Mercure boasts three swimming pools as well as bicycle and walking tracks that wind around the central lagoon).


We did craft (how I hate craft, I did it all the same). We built cubby houses.We played. We laughed. We bonded. We celebrated being a family. I would urge families everywhere to consider the Grand Mercure Twin Waters Apartments. You can choose to lie low in your beautiful apartment or engage in the family-friendly fun at the resort. Do as little or as much as you like, but do it together. As a family.

We will definitely take our little boy back to the Grand Mercure Twin Waters, and next time we will stay longer and might even head to the beach, which incidentally, is right across the street. And there will definitely be a next time.


Grand Mercure Apartments Twin Waters still has availability for the Easter break and is offering fantastic rates starting from just $220 per night in a two bedroom apartment for a minimum 5 night stay. Call  5450 6129 or visit www.grandmercureapartments.com.au.



Love our blogs? Why not buy our new book, ISSUES? What Issues? On sale April 16 in book stores!


A slave to love … Genine gets loved up at Noosa Springs

19 Feb

When locals think of Noosa Springs Resort they think of weddings and golf. But there is much more to this Tuscan-inspired oasis. Genine Howard takes the challenge to discover all that Noosa Springs Resort, Noosa, has to offer … and, well, fell in love.

Noosa Springs Resort has seen more weddings than Elizabeth Taylor – it is as well-known for its spectacular events as it is for its 18-hole championship golf course. Being a local for a few years now (can I call myself a local yet?) I had always thought of Noosa Springs as an enigma in the Noosa region – it sounded like an exotic oasis that I hoped to see one day and explore, although I wasn’t too sure of what to expect there. Was it a residential community? Was it a resort? Didn’t it have an amazing spa? Wasn’t it for golfers? As I discovered, Noosa Springs Resort is all of that … and more.

I decided to take my husband, Rowan, on a romantic weekend away and indulge in our two passions – his; golf, and mine; a good old day spa pamper session. So the idea was that we each indulge in the others favourite pastime. Yes, that meant I had to play golf – certainly not high up on my list of favourite pastimes – and he had to come with me for some good girly pampering. I always find golf to be one of those sports that is really hard to be good at, and my competitive nature and ego usually get a bruising each time I play, hence I avoid the game at all costs.

So when I relented and agreed to play on the superb Noosa Springs golf course, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did few of my balls find large holes filled with water, many of them actually made it into the correct small holes. Rowan played far better, of course, but all-in-all I played well enough to not have to run around the table with my pants down (although I suspect that might be a different game).

The golf course is really quite stunning, even for non-golfers to appreciate. I was advised on good authority (my husband), that the course is one of Australia’s best resort courses and offers a night time practice range (for golfers with insomnia?). We had a motorised golf cart which made the experience even more enjoyable, complete with its own esky. Thoughtful!

My next task was to drag my husband off for a few hours of pampering in Noosa Springs Day Spa. I had arranged for us to indulge in a hydromassage and steam experience so we could enjoy the spa together. However, on arrival we were both whisked off separately through the corridors and rooms of the spa to the gender-specific dressing rooms, unsure if we were to ever see each other again. After changing into swimwear, dressing gown and slippers, I was ushered along to the hydromassage pool. Hooray! There was my husband waiting for me patiently in the pool. Well, realistically he had started without me and was already a pile of relaxed muscles in the mass of watery jets. The hydromassage pool is really quite incredible and felt akin to an ancient Roman spa, without the Romans and aqueducts. It is an indoor pool filled with all sorts of underwater massage jets, bubbles and showers designed to pound tired muscles and stimulate circulation.

I was dubious at first and thought Rowan would be bored and get out in the first five minutes, but before we knew it we had been soaking and bubbling away for nearly an hour! After a quick shower, we each popped in and used the steam rooms and the infrared saunas just for good measure, before rinsing off our rejuvenated bodies and being shown to a relaxation room for more bubbles (the alcoholic kind) and fresh fruit. Delightful!

The spa at Noosa Springs is simply amazing. Modelled on Roman spas of old, the concept is to provide guests with the ultimate day of relaxation, from the hydromassage pool to its luxurious change rooms and relaxation areas to its flotation pool and, of course, beauty and therapeutic treatments. They even have a scary-looking blitz shower that shoots out thousands of icy water jets at you from all angles. We decided to give that one a miss.

Clearly famished from all the golfing and pampering, we took our rejuvenated bodies and hungry tummies down to Relish Restaurant at the resort’s clubhouse. The restaurant offered us a couple of options, from a casual sandwich in the café area to a la carte dining overlooking the golf course. Keen to continue the romance we settled for a nice table in the restaurant and enjoyed a sensational meal from its extensive menu. While running the risk of sounding like a brochure, the menu really did have something for everyone, from seared scallop salad (my favourite) to roasted duck and pork belly to fish and chips, all well-priced and five-star standard in a relaxed setting (I am getting hungry just thinking about the food again!).

Back to my challenge. To confirm that Noosa Springs Resort was indeed a place to stay for tourists and locals alike, we needed to test out the accommodation. We chose a two-bedroom golf apartment overlooking the course. Now here is where confusion could easily set in – the apartments were not like any hotel we had stayed in. In fact, you could literally move right on into the apartments and live happily with everything you need. Indeed many have! Usually reserved for golfies (not sure if that’s what you call them but let’s for the purpose of this article) and retirees, many of the apartments were occupied permanently – and why wouldn’t you? There is, of course, a separate residential community located just next door with some 299 resident allotments (the resort and residential area covers 103 hectares!).

The accommodation is just stunning – two spacious bedrooms, two good-sized bathrooms, large open-plan living areas and kitchens complete with dishwasher and modern appliances, but best of all two private balconies, with one looking directly out to the golf course so you can watch the pros in action while sipping on a chardy. Although we only live 40 minutes away from the resort, we did feel completely removed and as if we were on holiday. So what about the weddings? As I mentioned, Noosa Springs is well-known for its weddings so I decided to find out what all the fuss was about. General manager Mark Brady took us on a tour of the resort and its conference / event facilities; I must say that if I were to get married again (it was a consideration if the romantic weekend turned bad) then Noosa Springs would be high on my list. What a gorgeous setting – Mark pointed out a plethora of romantic ceremony settings throughout the resort and flicked through a few wedding albums showing picturesque settings for photography. The function rooms were stunning, spilling out to a private terrace overlooking the golf course and big enough to cater for the largest of receptions. You can easily see why this place is a popular choice for both local and international couples.

Challenge achieved. We ate, stayed, played, relaxed and discovered the secrets of Noosa Springs Resort and found that there is so much more to this resort than weddings and golf. I, for one, will certainly be back for all that it has to offer. Maybe just not for the weddings; after all, I’m not Elizabeth Taylor!

To read more travel reviews, head to our UNWIND page! A&Gx

%d bloggers like this: