Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney: Altitude Restaurant - Private Dining Room
Posted: 04 December 2014
Whilst many British travellers take the opportunity to visit family overseas during the Christmas holidays, Gill and Julie say that November and February are also lovely times to visit due to the more agreeable temperature.
City Life Most visitors to Australia arrive into Sydney and this was the case for Gill and Julie who found the city to be booming and say that the country's economy seems strong − supported by abundant natural resources (that are currently in demand by the Chinese). The fact that most top hotels are busy until April only cements the need to book in advance; especially for those peak festive dates! Securing an all important Harbour View Room for Sydney's famous New Year's fireworks definitely requires some forward planning. The dining and drinks also need some thought − Altitude at Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney perhaps? Or, for couples, a tall ship harbour cruise or Champagne supper might be the perfect way to bring in the New Year. Whether it be iconic Park Hyatt Sydney, situated under the Harbour Bridge with an exclusive private deck; Shangri-La Hotel Sydney with impressive views of both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, or Four Seasons Hotel Sydney known for its great location on George Street, where there are fabulous parties! A lesser known haunt for visiting VIPs is The Intercontinental Sydney which directly faces the Opera House and has a superb wrap-around outdoor terrace overlooking the Harbour and Botanical Gardens, plus excellent Club Lounge. The ground floor of this hotel is also notable for its historic character since it was formerly a bank and you can see an old wrought iron safe, along with the oldest working lift in the southern hemisphere. Families may also wish to book a spot at the balcony terrace here for the 8pm fireworks display.
Wildlife Australia's late spring, November, offers an abundance of wildlife opportunities − birding, butterflies and marsupials! Drive just three hours north west of Sydney to the famous Blue Mountains region to discover the wonderful haze from the millions of Eucalyptus trees and perhaps stop at Mount Tomah for the Botanical Gardens. Dine al fresco at the little bistro there which serves the freshest culinary delights, using produce from the gardens, as you soak up the extraordinary scenery.
For those with time to explore the area, pass the fruit farms, head over the ridges and into the valleys, to One&Only Wolgan Valley. A truly magical location of raw beauty with dramatic sandstone escarpments which frame the pretty valley situated between two National Parks. Within this naturally protected area, is a micro-climate and animal gene pool which is very special; not to mention the historic homestead (where Charles Darwin reportedly visited). Perhaps most vital is the scientific research work and relatively recent discovery of the Wollemi Pine tree − found only from fossil records it is unique to this tiny part of Australia and dates from the time of the dinosaurs.
At Wolgan Valley, guests can relax within their individual Heritage Suite (mini homestead), take in the views from their pool or deck, take advantage of the many wildlife tours with expert Guides, complimentary bike hire and trails, or book a horse trek. Horse back or bicycle really are the best ways to take in this spectacular setting; before indulging in the very fine cuisine and local speciality wines. Whether it is summer, spring, autumn or winter, the Wombats, Wallabies, Wollaroos and Eastern Grey Kangaroos will still welcome and amaze you!
Beaches Fly an hour and a half north from Sydney and you can access not only warmer climes, but a phenomenal coastline. International visitors can easily access Brisbane, likewise domestic travellers and those visitors from New Zealand (who apparently escape the cooler winters) can too, while another access point is the small domestic Gold Coast Airport. The freeways are easy to navigate and make self-drives an ideal way to make the most of the coastline.
The east coast, is famous for being the 'playground' of Australia and with an all-year climate of around 21 degrees it's easy to see why. From the southern Gold Coast to the northern Sunshine Coast, there is an array of attractions for all ages − family theme parks, prime surf spots, thriving marinas and events from horse-racing to Blues Festivals. Travel inland however and you can escape to a more sedate Hinterland with native forest and vast open spaces − all of which is within a few hours’ drive. Gill and Julie were lucky enough to visit the Great Barrier Reef region where the beaches are sublime, especially around the Whitsunday Islands and their stay at One&Only Hayman Island allowed them to observe the renowned tropical beauty, pure-white sands and water-based activities.
Whichever way around you choose to take in the many natural and cultural attractions of Australia, Elegant Resorts will help to find your perfect combination, however long you have to stay in the country. Domestic travel via plane, train, helicopter or private yacht can all be arranged to suit your particular needs. The reef, mountains, outback and coastline can all be experienced; along with private dinners, picnics, vintage cars and luxury launches.