Dreaming of a family holiday with nary a caravan site or theme park in site? The family-focused hotel connoisseurs Smith & Family have three luxury Australian stays to impress the iPod buds off even the most angsty of teens. With enough kit to occupy the brood for days – and plenty of parent-pleasing extras – these digs will have whines of ‘I’m bored’ replaced with ‘When are we going back?’
Emirates Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains
Style: Outback eco-luxe
Setting: Private nature reserve
Ever fancied a jaunt in a Jurassic Park-sized canyon? Make for Emirates Wolgan Valley, an outback luxury lodge featuring sun-blessed escarpments, creature comforts and sumptuous styling. Add in a top-notch spa, in-room swimming pools and belly-bursting dining and you’ve got one special playground.
Accommodations: With enough room for the Brady Bunch and then some, the no-expense spared Wollemi suites have large communal areas in earthy tones, a private swimming pool and breathtaking views from a wrap-around verandah. With two bedrooms, these suites sit up the hill closer to the lodge, allowing for premium wildlife-watching opportunities and allowing parents some coveted alone-time. The three-bedroom Wolgan Suite has bucketloads of space, a landscaped garden, private terraces and a private swimming pool. As a totally self-contained lodge, it’s ideal for larger groups.
Activities: Nestled smack-bang in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area, we almost ran out of fingers – and toes – checking off Wolgan Valley’s offerings. Explore more than 4,000 acres of pristine wilderness by making for the purpose-built equestrian centre and have your own Melbourne Cup-inspired jaunt. Green fingered? Field Guides are on hand to share their knowledge of native flora and fauna. Tots can run wild with bush craft and cooking, archery lessons and stunt kite-flying, leaving parents to retreat to the restorative powers of the Timeless Spa.
Feasting: With a food philosophy that favours seasonal, regional and organic produce, Wolgan Valley has turned to boutique farms, private growers and vintners to supply the ingredients used in its on-site eateries. The Country Kitchen is a providore-style restaurant, open from morning to dusk in the main lodge building; the ploughman’s platter champions regional flavours and is sure to replenish any empty tank. Breakfast and dinner are taken in the Dining Room; during the colder months, nab a place by the fireplace.
Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas, Great Barrier Reef
Style: Modern beachside bungalows
Setting: Sun, sea, sky
A collective of coastal-chic holiday houses, Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas takes laid-back luxury to new levels. With a beach-blessed location in the Whitsundays, you’ll be perfectly positioned for Great Barrier Reef island hopping. Prepare to cast off: we have a feeling you’ll be here for a while.
Accommodations: Enjoy views of pristine coastline from every angle in each of the resort’s luxury villas; the Premium Yacht Club Villas score extra brownie points for their wow-worthy waterfront position. With four bedrooms in each villa, ankle-biters may even bag a room to themselves (depending on how many tots are in tow). For a private balcony plunge pool, opt for Villa 32; fans of film should make for Villas 13 and 15 for the basement-level media rooms, perfect for family movie nights.
Activities: Mini Smiths will love zooming around the island in golf buggies – the preferred mode of transport on the island. Hamilton Island has the Clownfish Club, a kids centre and childcare facility, to cater for bubs as young as six weeks old, as well as under-15s. Older kids can while away days by trying their hands at the water-and-sand sports on offer; consider a family day sailing to spectacular Whitehaven Beach or choppering over the reef. Animal-lovers can seek out the Wildlife Park to check out koalas and other cuddly critters and try mini-golf, or venture up Passage Peak for spectacular views of blue ocean melting into the horizon.
Feasting: Villas are decked out with top-notch Miele appliances, affording budding masterchefs the chance to rustle up a family meal. If you’d rather avoid the kitchen, choose from Bommie Restaurant – suitable for under-13s – and Bommie Deck, both dishing up contemporary Australian cuisine. There’s also a smattering of cafés and restaurants dotted around the island, with offerings including East Asian fare and laid-back Italian.
QT, Port Douglas
Style Retro vibrant
Setting Lush, tropical gardens
Turning up the heat in the tropics is QT Port Douglas, a boutique hotel with quirky designs and staff dressed as if they’ve stepped straight out of an episode of Gilligan’s Island. It’s only a short stroll from the hotel to both the beach and town centre at Port Douglas (if you find you can’t coax yourself from your sun lounger, that’s perfectly fine, too).
Accommodations: The Two-bedroom Villas are cracking for groups and families; the second room can be configured with twin beds and there’s also a kitchenette for heating up bottles and snacks. All of QT’s rooms and villas have airy interiors, splashes of brightly coloured pop art, private bathrooms and views over the garden or pool.
Activities: With World Heritage rainforests and sugar-sand beaches on your doorstep, your hardest decision will be knowing where to start. Squeeze into a wetsuit and make for the Great Barrier Reef to discover darting fish and mosaics of coloured coral; keep an eye out for Nemo! If swimming isn’t your thing, wander through the 135 million-year-old Daintree forest, stroll along Four Mile Beach or plan a day trip and visit Cape Tribulation. Closer to home, the hotel has table tennis and a pool table as well as free retro bikes available.
Feasting: Bazaar, QT’s main restaurant, dishes up healthy breakfasts and a generous buffet that will have your eyes – and belly – bulging. A trickling pond decorated with oversized carp surrounds this open-air eatery, which is popular with locals and guests alike. Estilo has a bar menu boasting wood-fired pizzas, fresh seafood and antipasto plates – best enjoyed alongside a fruity libation created by the resident mixologist. The swim-up Pool Bar is the go-to spot when the rising temperature calls for some cooling off.
Find more family-friendly stays at Smith & Family or browse other Mr & Mrs Smith collections. Smith members enjoy exclusive extras with all stays.