The Ultimate Escape: 21 Luxury Domestic Destinations
It’s time to explore well beyond the obvious with our heady guide to luxury domestic travel.
There’s an air of positivity across New South Wales and Queensland this afternoon following the announcement that border restrictions between the two states will be lifted on November 1 (community transmission rates dependent).
Elsewhere, Tasmania will open to SA, Queensland, WA, NT and the ACT from October 26 (NSW “pending”), while there’s also confirmed plans for a trans-Tasman travel bubble and what is initial one-way movement into NSW and NT for New Zealanders coming from unaffected areas.
Time, then, to finalise that future luxury escape – easily done with this alluring set of heightened holidays and experiences from across ANZ.
A wild and wonderful slip of land in Tasmania’s D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Satellite Island can only be reached by boat from neighbouring Bruny Island or helicopter from Hobart. On arrival, discover the only companions are your butler and resident deer, sea eagles and free-range chickens. Daily diversions emphasise the outdoors: kayaking, fishing, snorkelling, plus foraging for oysters and sea urchins. Such a bounty is best enjoyed fireside on the jetty, home to two nautical-chic bedrooms that open to the ocean. The main Summer House has three additional accommodations, designed with covetable objects and items salvaged among the island’s 30 hectares.
Dinner With MONA’s David Walsh
Millionaire philanthropist and self-proclaimed “maths nerd”, David Walsh is credited with putting Tasmania back on the travel map. Since his drama-filled Hobart gallery, MONA, opened in 2011, it has become one of the most visited art institutions in the country, and one of the most discussed in the world. Walsh is a difficult man to get hold of. Unless, that is, you book the ‘Dinner With David’ offering from Cultural Attractions of Australia. The $50,000 per person price tag gets you private jet transfers to Hobart; when you touch down, Walsh welcomes you with a lavish meal shared at MONA’s Source restaurant. You’ll sleep soundly in one of the property’s riverside Pavilions and wake to a packed day of exclusive experiences: a curator-led tour of the gallery, lunch in new dining room Faro, a behind-the-scenes glimpse into winemaking at on-site Moorilla Estate, and perhaps even a hit of tennis with Walsh himself.
COMO The Treasury, WA
We’re going to drop this and walk away—COMO The Treasury is the best metropolitan hotel in Australia. Sure, it’s in Perth and that’s arguably to its detriment, though also know that this far-flung capital has found a sense of itself, and elevated luxe, in the last five years, with more to offer than ever before—especially its dining scene. Regardless, if staying at The Treasury you don’t actually need to leave this property of incredible allure—an elegant architectural wonder that delivers individual, light-filled designer rooms, Shambhala spa, impeccable pool and gym, and award-winning fine dining at Wildflower restaurant. In the State Buildings that The Treasury forms part of, there’s also Thai heat at David Thompson’s
Long Chim and leathery (in a good way) basement bar Halford.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, NSW
The appeal here is far-reaching—a nature escape that doesn’t skimp on the luxury, a valley steeped in incredible natural history (Darwin made a stop here to study things in the early 1800s) and the fact that there’s no phone reception. Joyous. The famed award-winning eco-retreat offers a chance to truly escape (hello 2,800 hectares to explore) without ever forgoing necessities such as fine dining, private pools, fireplaces, spa, yoga, and tightly held guest numbers.
Matakauri Lodge, NZ
If you haven’t, you really should—Matakauri is one of the world’s great ‘lodges’, held in the cradle of New Zealand’s impressive The Remarkables ranges on the gentle shores of Lake Wakatipu. It’s located just 10 minutes from Queenstown and not far from the region’s best slopes—though given the levels of service, accommodation and in-house spa, it’s sometimes too difficult to hit the piste, even on a bluebird day.
Exclusive Robb Report Offer: Stay four nights, pay for three, and enjoy a suite category upgrade when you mention Robb Report on booking.*
Flights Of Fancy
From rock to reef, rainforest to outback, Australia stands as one of the world’s most diverse countries. Get a taste with the Great Australian Air Tour, a 12-day private plane excursion with Bill Peach Journeys. The sky-high survey is Australia in a snapshot, taking guests from Kakadu to Uluru, with Broome and Birdsville in between. When not airborne, the intimate group cruises through gorges, dines under the stars, bathes in remote waterfalls and sips champagne as the sun sets.
A 60-hectare working farm in Gerringong might not be the most likely location for two high-drama, architect-designed lodges. But here, on NSW’s South Coast, you’ll find The Headland and The Range, a pair of gasp-inducing villas casting shadows over Werri Beach. Together known as Dovecote, the accommodations—replete with designer fireplaces and outdoor cinemas—are best accessed via helicopter from Sydney. When you land, organise multi-course meals and spa treatments, or take a coastal walk into the sleepy town of Kiama.
Exclusive Robb Report Offer: Receive a $50 spa credit, per guest, to use during the course of a stay by mentioning Robb Report on booking.*
Pretty Beach House, NSW
A short meander north from Sydney—and proof the Central Coast means more than tradies and Jennifer Hawkins. This hilltop guest house is a wonderful weekend indulgence — a place of easy warmth built around inclusive (impressive) meals, just four ‘rooms’ (we’d suggest the two-storey Retreat), incredible views and a chance to explore the area’s magical beaches or trek Bouddi Peninsula. Also… free mini-bar! Grab a seaplane transfer and enjoy.
Rowley Shoals, WA
The kaleidoscopic reefs of the Rowley Shoals—a necklace of coral atolls 300 kilometres west of Broome—are home to giant purple-lipped clams, iridescent starfish, humpback whales and schools of tropical fish. Your chariot here? The 36-passenger True North, an expedition ship as intimate as it is immaculate. And when not below water, take to the skies in the craft’s private helicopter.
A private enclave collocated with historic Mount Lofty Estate, newcomer Sequoia (opening this September) promises to inject the Adelaide Hills with an acute sense of contemporary Australian style. Here, 14 exclusive villas include sandstone fireplaces, sunken lounges, cantilevered balconies and private pools. Stroll to the original homestead and hotel where the three-hatted restaurant and spa await.
Exclusive Robb Report Offer: Stay four nights and only pay for three by mentioning Robb Report on booking*
Luxury Train Travel
Let the rails rock you to sleep in the Chairman’s Carriage, a private charter addition to either The Ghan or Indian Pacific trains. Whether you’re traversing Australia from east to west or north to south, these outback explorations are completely beguiling—even more so in your plush moving cocoon, all leather and quartzite, polished wood and brass. The carriage has space to sleep eight, with a personal attendant on-call to mix cocktails in the lounge, organise dining experiences and facilitate off-train excursions.
Sure, opt for a private rental up the hill… or enjoy the direct beach access and relaxed sense of luxury that continues to cloak this Byron standout. Legend has it that the grounds of the ’60s Spanish mission-style property were designed by Salvador Dalí. While we’ve never quite been convinced, what we do know is that Raes remains a byword for heightened levels of North Coast cool—an experience that’s as easy as it is chic, built around seven unique rooms (villa, two penthouses and four luxury suites), impressive spa, pool, fresh in-house dining menus, deep cellar and easy-going service that’s always on-point.
Hermes Estate, Gleniffer, NSW
Prefer to holiday and socially distance at the same time? Freshly minted Hermes Estate is available for exclusive rental only, with all four guests given free run of the entire two-hectare property on the banks of northern NSW’s Never Never River. The only other companions here are the staff: butler, chef, spa therapist, chauffeur. The lush country setting is the perfect complement to the lodging’s French-inspired décor—think opulent antiques, chandeliers, first-edition tomes in the library and original artwork. It’s a 45-minute drive from Coffs Harbour, though we recommend making the most of the private helipad to transfer in style.
Sleep Under The Outback Stars
The Flinders Ranges—450km north of Adelaide—is all red peaks, gorges and valleys, a place where striated rock formations create an enormous natural amphitheatre. It’s exclusively yours on a Helivista Heli-Swag expedition, created in partnership with Rawnsley Park Station. Your chopper zips to the top of the Chace Range, leaving you to enjoy a camp-fire dinner amid the sunset. Then it’s time to snuggle into swags and ogle an outback sky so dazzling it appears doused with glitter.
A Need For Speed
Fancy revving up a Ferrari 488 GTB? Or a Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4? These are among the supercars in the Prancing Horse portfolio, and you’ll drive them both (and others) on the scenic 200-kilometre journey north from Sydney to the Hunter Valley. NSW’s premier wine region is known for its bold chardonnay, sémillon and shiraz varietals, which you’ll sip over lunch at the applauded Muse Restaurant, on the estate of Hungerford Hill. The experience will re-launch in 2021, though if you can’t wait, supercar food-and-wine tours around the Yarra Valley are available in November.
Huka Lodge, NZ
House parties are encouraged in Huka Lodge’s Alan Pye Cottage, a four-person retreat on the Waikato River. But you’ll want this space all to yourself. Neighbouring Huka Falls on New Zealand’s North Island, the accommodation features a palette of cedar, stone, teal and turquoise. Your private enclave includes indoor and outdoor fireplaces, an infinity pool and spa, all within seven hectares of manicured gardens that also host the main lodge and eight-person Owner’s Cottage.
Exclusive Robb Report Offer: Receive a free lunch for two, replete with a bottle of exclusive sparkling New Zealand wine, when you mention Robb Report on booking.
Lizard Island Resort, QLD
Australia’s northernmost island beach hotel, Lizard Island Resort, is as enchanting as Great Barrier Reef retreats get. The high point—quite literally—is The Pavilion, a stilted glass-and-steel villa clinging to a ridge overlooking the Coral Sea. You’ll want to linger on the wraparound deck, just steps from a private pool. Tear yourself away to charter the resort’s yacht for dive excursions, strap in for helicopter rides to ogle remote rock art, or simply stroll to the sand for an intimate beachside barbecue.
A Feast Fit For Cleopatra
It’s not every day you get the chance to dine metres from a priceless work of art. But for $39,000, you and seven friends can do just that, in a room housing the National Gallery of Victoria’s most sought-after painting. Italian artist Giambattista Tiepolo’s The Banquet of Cleopatra draws thousands to this Melbourne institution every year. But only 16 eyes will scrutinise the masterpiece while your party enjoys live music and a memorable meal.
West Side Story
This WA gem is held tight by locals —Injidup Spa Retreat a relatively secluded and somewhat unknown luxury property of private villas framed by scrubby national park and the deep blues of the Indian Ocean. The setting and views are both entrée and main here—a stay cloaked in a sense of ease where life doesn’t move far beyond gazing across the immediate and expansive water. Plunge pool, BBQ, fireplace, private deck and the area’s best spa (note, there are just two treatment rooms) are all on offer—so too the unique vineyards and powerful surf of the Margaret River region.
Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island
A crescent-shaped drop of basalt in the Tasman Sea, 600 kilometres east of Sydney, UNESCO-listed Lord Howe is as remote as it is ravishing. The island’s Jurassic landscapes of soaring sea cliffs and tangled jungle are among Australia’s most important bird habitats, while the lagoon and reef are home to bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead turtles, Galapagos sharks and humpback whales. Make your base the newly renovated Capella Lodge, where rooms overlook unspoiled beaches backdropped by the jagged crest of Mount Gower. There’s no phone reception, limited wi-fi and a cap on visitor numbers. The only thing to do is switch off and enjoy paradise to yourself.
Head to the hills, specifically Coopers Shoot outside Byron Bay, and a unique property that brings a sense of Spain (without being naff) to the region. From the husband and wife team who delivered agritourism hotspot The Farm, Tom and Emma Lane, this luxurious retreat comprises three main buildings available for exclusive rental. Interiors and exteriors ooze rustic European designer charm—replete with pool, 48 tranquil hectares
*Offer valid until June 30, 2021.
Upgrade dependant on availability.