Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa, Noosa, Queensland
While others may dread the thought of turning 40, after a stressful couple of years I was embracing this new chapter of my life.
And I chose a few of my favourite things to mark the milestone.
Since I first learned to cook a Bolognese sauce in my teens, my love of Italian food and spirit of 'la dolce vita' has grown into an affair as eternal as the love between screen siren Sophia Loren and her film director husband Carlo Ponti.
But while a quick trip to the pebbled shores of the Amalfi Coast was out of reach - I happily settled on my next favourite place - Noosa Heads - a chic beachside haven on Queensland's Sunshine Coast where Havianas and haute couture clash contentedly.
Noosa's favourite Italian restaurant Lindoni's has been a Hastings Street icon for more than half my lifetime due to its exquisite silver service and multi-award-winning menu serving up Southern Italy's favourite pasta, meat and seafood staples. Guests dine in a replica of a rustic Italian villa complete with sunken courtyard, water fountains, flickering candles and waiters with operatic singing voices. It was the perfect setting to celebrate my special occasion with friends.
Despite the romantic undertones of my chosen venue, this celebratory weekend was going to be a girls' only affair - a chance for some BFFs to enjoy some well earned quality time away from children, husbands and jobs.
Our accommodation needs were simple - a comfy bed each, ample closet space and a few little luxuries (like a day spa) attached - all of which of course had to be within walking distance of Noosa's main attractions - as we planned to drink, not drive.
The new five-star Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa proved the ideal location tucked into a hill a two minute walk to Noosa's famous street, with pretty Laguna Bay glimpses and the Noosa National Park next door with its well worn cliff-top walks and secluded sandy coves.
Built on the site of an old banana plantation the resort is part of a $350 million Viridian Village residential and resort precinct developed by Leighton Properties and the Macquarie Group of companies.
Opened a little under two years ago, the resort's 198 fully-serviced apartments, villas and penthouses still have a polished air about them. Many look out over the resort village, while others enjoy bush and bay views. As the village is within the Noosa Biosphere Reserve, local architect John Mainwaring designed them all to be sustainable with as little impact on the natural environment as possible- hence their slightly rustic-looking exteriors. But don't be deceived by first appearances.
The resort ticks all the' modern, clean and green' boxes with thoughtful design and fixtures like high raked ceilings, louvred windows and ceiling fans for cross ventilation, energy efficient lighting, doors fitted with sensors that cut power to the air conditioning when opened, biodegradable bathroom amenities, gas cook tops, solar hot water, plus water-saving showerheads and washing machines. If you're daunted by the hill, electric buggies transfer guests about the resort. Rainwater is sensibly harvested for landscaping and toilets.
Our spacious three bedroom tree-top villa also ticked off all our other needs and more. A remote control supplied with our room key card opened the garage where we left our car undercover and secure. The private entry from here led us to a small landing where stairs led down to the roomy bedrooms: one with king bed, veranda access and large en suite bathroom including a spa tub; a Queen room (which shared the same veranda access); a smaller room with twin singles and separate share bathroom. Upstairs was just made for entertaining with its vast open combined living and dining space and enormous private timber terrace overlooking dense bushland and a fast flowing creek. The only thing missing was a barbecue (traditionally the bloke's domain anyway) - but the modern kitchen was a cook's dream (had we felt the urge) with metres of bench and storage space, and equipped with smart stainless steel Smeg appliances. The separate media room up here would have been great way keep our kids happy with their own flat screen TV and games- had we brought them. For added convenience there was also a third bathroom (with shower) and a 'huge' laundry on this level.
The large fabric sofa provided the perfect spot for us all to curl up together and watch the DVD's I'd packed last minute in case the rain-sodden clouds above lingered unwelcoming - which they did. Classic chick flicks The Notebook and Pride and Prejudice starring the newly crowned Oscar winner Colin Firth in his most dashing role, kept us entertained as the wine and conversation flowed (and flowed).
Luckily we didn't need to venture far for dinner on our first night off from daily kitchen duties choosing to sample the resort restaurant. Located above reception and overlooking the bay, View on Little Hastings - where buffet breakfasts are also served - offered a 'fusion' of modern Australian and Asian cuisine, inspired by executive chef Olivier Maokhamphieu's French-Vietnamese heritage. The ned result was however, more like 'confusion'. The free range chicken breast with sea scallops, a Mooloolaba prawn and balsamic reduction failed to wow as hoped at $30 a main. My twice cooked pork belly, with roast swedes, bok choy , butternut pumpkin and five-spice soy reduction was a slightly the better choice. Dessert was a surprise chocolate gateau complete with birthday candles - a thoughtful touch which ended our evening in much higher spirits.
NOTE: Maokhamphieu has since departed. The kitchen is now the realm of new executive chef Michael Jenkins whose ample talents I have experienced at his popular Coolangatta restaurant One Fish Two Fish. No stranger to working in five-star boutique resorts in some of the country's finest wine regions either, Jenkins is a firm believer in keeping food uncomplicated where local produce is the star. His signature chilled mud crab with crispy pork belly, coriander, mint, palm sugar and lime caramel - is a long time favourite with fans. His pan-fried sage and parmesan gnocchi (I'm reliably told) is also 'to- die-for' .
Other resort features include a heated lagoon pool and 35-metre lap pool, theatrette and games room, convenience store, gym and steam room and, more to our liking on this wet weekend, Stephanies Ocean Spa .
Located just a few metres from our door, Stephanies' range of treatments include French-inspired Vino therapy -which uses grape extracts to smooth the skin and help slow ageing - and hot stone massage, a gentle experience but with the effect of a deep tissue massage. Post-treatment guests can relax with a sorbet or herbal tea and magazine in the coastal-themed tranquillity lounge. Our Spa-rty took place in the triple suite's mineral flotation pool. This brief escape from gravity (especially after an Italian feast) sealed the resort and weekend's thumbs up.
|Check in: Hastings Street, Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia
Ultimate Luxury: The resort has 25 two and three bedroom penthouses and three and four bedroom villas. These beautifully appointed split level apartments are akin to the designer homes one would see in glossy magazines, featuring contemporary open-plan kitchens and living areas, opulent bathrooms off the master bedrooms and deep all weather balconies.
Guests staying in Outrigger Little Hastings Street's luxury villa and penthouse collection also have access to dedicated guest service managers, on call at any time, and able to provide advice and tips on the local area, book restaurants, tours or flights, arrange picnic hampers or even organise in-room dinner parties catered by Outrigger's chefs. Guests also enjoy exclusive access to Brooke's Pool (a private sanctuary with an infinity pool and spectacular views of Laguna Bay.
|Most Indulgent Moment: Escaping for an afternoon's pampering in Stephanies' Ocean Spa.
|Insider Secrets: The onsite convenience store is also handy for last minute snacks and wine on your balcony if you can't be bothered leaving the resort. If you are arriving at the resort before 7pm, access is from the top off Viewland Drive. If arriving after 7pm, access is off Hastings Street and Morwon Drive - due to council regulations.
|The Little Things: Buggy transfers save you walking to Hastings Street or back up hill to your room. The pool bar service.
|Junior Luxies: There is a games room and secure pool area with separate shallow area to keep toddlers happy.
|Dress code: Dress Code: Keep it cool and casual
|Dent in the platinum:
|Luxury Resorts Link: www.outrigger.com.au/
Debbie Neilson-Hunter 15/10/12
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