Friday, June 22, 2012

An Italian Love Affair at Monaci delle Terre Nere - Sicily

Located on a gravel road dating back to the times when monks settled at the foot of Mount Etna in Sicily, the exquisite nobiliary house Monaci delle Terre Nere sits amidst an organic farm overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. 

This stunning home has been brought back to life by its charming host Guido Coffa, who spent five years rescuing the villa from despair investing every drop of his energy to create a relaxing and stylish retreat that couples will love. You can now stay here and enjoy the utmost of intimacy - guest numbers are kept to a minimum with only 6 bedrooms, and that Italian style is everywhere from the traditional Sicilian architecture to the contemporary art and modern designer furniture. 

Your stay here will be a true sensory experience - Guido is also always at hand to arrange whatever your heart desires: an Italian feast at a small restaurant before the other guests arrive, a private tour of Mount Etna, trips to famous Taormina with its Greek Theatre and Medieval Quarter, the fish market of Catania as well as the coast, of course, with fashionable Isola Bella in Taormina and 18km of sandy beaches stretching  between Catania and Syracuse. And being Italy, there's ample scope for wine tastings at remarkable wineries for some heavy reds and fruity whites from the region. Or from the farm itself: Guido produces an exceptional red wine that’s available for you to sample. 
It really does look and sound like a truly special experience. And that villa .... totally divine. It's amore!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Explore London's East End Like a Local

With London on the radar thanks to the upcoming Olympics, everyone is looking for the right royal treatment when planning a stay in this vibrant and trendy city! If you really want to live like a local during your next short stay in London, it pays to avoid the high cost of hotels (London is renowned as one of the most expensive cities in Europe!) and to opt for the choice of luxury serviced apartments instead. 
Crown Lawn Apartments has opened some new luxury serviced properties in fashionable Shoreditch, and they are perfect for those who want to enjoy the comfort of home but with all the amenities of a hotel, without breaking the bank. When you cost it all out, there are savings of up to 30% less than the cost of a hotel. And that means more money for sight seeing, dining out, shopping, and those wickedly tempting pubs, bars and clubs that we so love in London!

The latest selection of apartments in Shoreditch will be available for bookings from early August, just in time for the Olympics. But if the East End doesn't grab you (awesome as it is!), Crown Land Apartments also have a stable of more than 100 serviced apartments in exclusive central London locations including Convent Garden, Westminster, London Docklands and Kensington. 

All of their serviced properties offer free Internet, spacious living areas with flat-screen TV’s, fully equipped kitchens with dishwasher and washer/dryer, 24-hour reception, parking facilities and exclusive deals with local gyms and hire car services. Kind of makes it your home away from home, really! Savvy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tropical Romance at The Reef House Boutique Resort & Spa - Palm Cove, Queensland

Talk about making the most of the tropical Winter sun! Shake off the chill and head north to beautiful Palm Cove on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef and you're in for sun soaked days and temps averaging 25 degrees this winter! And this is where we would like to check ourselves in to: The Reef House Boutique Resort & Spa! Set right on the beachside surrounds of Palm Cove's William Esplanade, the Reef House has been designed for the utmost privacy and an intimate, romantic ambience that couples will really love. 
We like the sound of the Brigadier Beachfront Spa Suites which feature a magnificent private spa (complete with a view of the beach!) and the unexpected luxury of a hanging couples swing on your own verandah or patio - a perfect place to watch the sunset over the Coral Sea. Private access to the Brigadiers Lounge and guest honesty bar is also available with daily invitation to complimentary Brigadier Lounge punch at twilight hour - an ideal way to end a day of long walks on the sand, swimming and lazing about in style (exhausting, right?!). 
And if life just gets too much and you can't bear another cocktail, head straight to the on site day spa and indulge in a range of therapeutic treatments which fuse ancient therapies from the ‘Dreamtime’ using the uniquely Australian Li’Tya Spa Care range that is exclusive to The Reef House Spa in Palm Cove. Bliss ... so, is it time for a tropical North Queensland holiday yet? We think so!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Peppers welcomes Rundells Alpine Lodge, Mount Hotham

It's getting cold outside and we're getting super keen for a bit of snow action! So it's perfect timing to get word on the latest addition to the network of boutique Peppers Retreats and Lodges in Australia with the acquisition of Rundells Alpine Lodge in Victoria's Mt Hotham ski fields ... and a special offer to celebrate!  To be known as Peppers Rundells Alpine Lodge, it will be the first Peppers property to be located in an Australian ski region. 

Peppers Rundells Alpine Lodge is located above the snowline at 1565m altitude in the heart of the Victorian Alps surrounded by the Alpine National Park and centrally positioned just 10 minutes from both Mount Hotham Airport and Mount Hotham Ski Resort.  It is also easily accessible via Australia's newest touring route, The Great Alpine Road.

The lodge also boasts one of the best restaurants on the Great Alpine Road, Graze, where guests can indulge in fine cuisine created with the freshest of regional ingredients and presented with European alpine influences.

Pack your ski boots and book yourselves in for a Victorian High Country Experience with a Two Night Snow Getaway Package from $430 per person* which includes accommodation in a King Room, degustation dinner in Graze restaurant, breakfast daily, private access to the spa and sauna and wireless internet valid from 29 June to 5 September 2012!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Luxury Eco Tents open for "Glampers" at The Billi - Broome, Western Australia

Broome’s newest boutique villa resort, The Billi, opened in October last year and has just unveiled its latest and most unique accommodation offering - four Luxury Eco Tents catering to the new "Glamping" trend. It's a form of sophisticated camping that has inspired a major feature in our next issue of Holidays for Couples, so we were pleased to hear all about this latest Australian destination to offer a luxe alternative with a wilderness holiday.

Set within a stunning resort setting right the heart of the Cable Beach Tourist precinct, the Billi Resort's tents are accessible and affordable, and have been decked out in style - from the soft cow hides on the floor, original artwork on the walls, serene lighting , faux fur throws and a sumptuous five star pillow topped bed to a freestanding bath in the en-suite. There's even room for a well equipped kitchenette complete with refrigerator and microwave. And to bring the outdoors in, you have your own private limestone encased timber deck area, perfect for a relaxing afternoon toast to the sunset together!

If you are lucky, you will see the camel trains which pass by the front of the property throughout the day as they make their way to Cable Beach, or spot the array of wildlife that surrounds you at The Billi, including their resident frilled neck lizards, tawny frogmouth owls and many other friendly fauna. 

Laze around the resort pool, read a book in one of the many contemplative areas, ride one of the on-site hire bikes to Cable Beach or explore Broome and the surrounds in your discounted on-site hire car. 
Sounds like a great holiday to us! 

Little wonder the resort already has four weddings booked this year - The Billi Resort is small enough to be booked out by a single group for the 
ultimate private resort experience.

If you like the sound of some luxury camping, be sure to get your copy of Holidays for Couples to read about more amazing Glamping destinations in Australia and around the world, on sale June 22nd, 2012!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

La Vie En Rose at Shangri-La Hotel, Paris     

There really is no other city in the world that compares to the romance of Paris! I've been day dreaming about a return to the City of Lights .... quite simply, I fell in love with Paris and I've never been quite the same since our return from that dream holiday we took over a year ago. You can read all about our love affair with the city right here. So it was with great pleasure that I received word this morning from the exquisite Shangri-La Hotel in Paris announcing the new 'La Vie en Rose Dream Romance Package' , created with newlyweds, honeymooners and lovebirds of all ages in mind (that being me, and perhaps you too!). 

This is one for the blessed (deep pockets essential!). A special offer that combines the best Shangri-La Hotel, Paris has to offer with unique touches that will make a couple's trip to Paris the experience of a lifetime. Designed around a three-night stay and a series of custom-designed moments, La Vie en Rose includes:

- A romantic room or suite with views of the Eiffel Tower and personalised décor featuring flowers, champagne and celebration patisserie: upon arrival, guests are welcomed with signature haute couture pastries by Head Pastry Chef François Perret.

- A private, one-and-a-half-hour champagne cruise for two: guests may settle into an elegant and iconic Riva speedboat to admire the City of Light from an exceptional vantage point on the Seine. Champagne will be served throughout the trip to complement the moment.

- A three-and-a-half hour photo session with a professional photographer who will commemorate the visit with photographs taken at the guests' favourite Paris locations. If desired, a professional hairstylist and make-up artist can be on hand for a beauty session prior to the taking of photographs (a session lasts approximately one hour). A car service will be provided, and guests will receive the photos on a CD.

- Breakfast served in the guestroom or on the terrace every morning.

- A gourmet dinner for two especially composed by Executive Chef Philippe Labbé of L'Abeille, the hotel's Michelin-starred French gastronomic restaurant, and served on the guests' private terrace.

- A vintage-style Lomography camera loaned by the hotel for the length of stay can be used to capture memories and take amusing tinted photographs. The photos will be developed at the end of the guests' stay and compiled into a keepsake "carnet de voyage" scrapbook.

- Round-trip airport transfer with VIP greeting and a special Shangri-La Hotel, Paris signature gift upon arrival.

Sounds a little bit sublime, doesn't it? Well, it may not be on the cheap side, but no true Parisian chic escape is. And you really can't get better than a stay at the Shangri-La Paris - located in the 16th arrondissement, in what was originally the private home of Prince Roland Bonaparte, grand-nephew of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Yep, you read that right ... like we said, sublime.

La Vie en Rose Dream Romance Package is available starting at AU$9,020 for a double room with a private terrace and view of the Eiffel Tower and AU$17,790 for a suite with a private terrace and Eiffel Tower view. The package rates are based on a three-night double occupancy stay and include VAT, visitor taxes and service. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wyndham Launches Half a Million Dollar Competition

Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific has announced the launch of its new competition which will give one lucky person the chance to win $500,000 cash on top of a guaranteed holiday package to the Gold Coast. 

The competition called “2012 Win with Wyndham Competition” offers the chance to win a seven-night holiday package for two adults at Wyndham Surfers Paradise (that's it pictured here) as well as the two-night accommodation and airfare package to the Gold Coast for the lucky winner to participate in a game of chance to win the major cash prize of a whopping $500,000, to be played out on 28th March, 2013! 

The competition is open to all Australia and New Zealand residents over the age of 18 years. To enter the competition and view the full details of participation visit 

A Thousand & Five Reasons to Follow Your Muse

Stay with Hotel Muse Bangkok from June 1st – 31st December 2012 and receive 1000 Thai Baht of “Muse Credits” each day to use in discovering this revolutionary and chic hotel and its seriously swoon worthy dining and entertainment venues. With your credits in hand, you can style yourself up and have a really fab night out or maybe a long and leisurely lunch - let your mood be your muse and make some romantic memories together!

Choose from the Medici Kitchen & Bar, simply Bangkok’s cutting edge Italian restaurant; The Speakeasy and Blind Pig, rooftop bar and cigar lounge; Su Tha Ros new-age Thai restaurant; Le Salon, Thailand’s first Johnnie Walker Blue Label corner, and Wet Bar, or lounge by the alfresco style pool bar.  

Hotel Muse Bangkok also presents a wealth of new ‘lifestyle freedom concepts’, including 24 Hours Flexi - check in at any time and check out 24 hours later; No Set Breakfast Time - enjoy a la carte breakfast, any time; 
Muse Personal Service - everyday necessities delivered at no extra cost - only pay the amount shown on the receipt; the General Manager’s Invitation - a chance to meet Alex and enjoy dinner as his invited guest; 
Free In-house Internet.  

For reservations or further details on the menu, head to the hotel's website,  or call Tel: +66 (0) 2 630 4000, or email 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Inaugural 'delectable Brisbane' festival set to delight foodies in July

Matt Moran from Aria
Alistair McLeod from Brett's Wharf

All of us at Holidays for Couples HQ are eagerly awaiting the inaugural Delectable Brisbane festival, set to hit Brisbane from 16 - 29th of July of this winter and turning up the culinary heat as the riverside city's newest food festival.

Queensland's finest producers, growers, chefs, gardeners, entertainers and musicians will come together to launch the 14-day event, with an exciting festival program kicking off with the seventh national delicious. magazine Produce Awards. We will be on the scene to sample the array of public food and music events, indoor and outdoor installations as well as expert talks and presentations across the Brisbane CBD and South Bank. Some of our country's finest chefs are ambassadors for the festival, including Ben O'Donoghue, Matt Moran, Alastair McLeod, Luke Nguyen, and (a personal favourite with the Holidays for Couples team!) Javier Codina, to name just a few.

Tickets are now on sale, and start at $20 (pre-sale) up to $290 for the Connoisseur Package. Get yours at or

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

El Captan Canyon adds yurts to their Glamping collection - California

Well after months of researching the very best Glamping destinations around the world for our 'Camping goes Luxe' story in the next issue of Holidays for Couples magazine, we were excited to receive word from California's El Capitan Canyon that they had just added some new yurts to their unique camping collection. The yurts feature hard wood flooring and are fully furnished, and you have all the stunning wilderness of the Santa Barbara coastline right on your doorstep. It's all about enjoying the elements of camping - sleeping under canvas in the great outdoors, camp fires and all - without forsaking any level of comfort.  
We reckon Glamping is pretty darn awesome, definitely a style of travel that suits this writer perfectly. Loving the look of the yurts here too - a little bit bohemian, still surrounded by nature and yet finished off with all the comfort that we crave. 
Be sure to get your copy of the next edition of Holidays for Couples magazine, to be released in just a few weeks time, and take a camping trip like nothing you've experienced before. 

El Capitan Canyon photographer: Eric Hernandez

Take the wheel on a private overnight cruise - Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Life Resorts has just launched the first of its summertime package for couples wanting a unique experience while in Vietnam: a private two-day-one-night cruise allowing guests to set their own course within Ha Long Bay’s spectacular Central, Eastern and Western Isles.

Features of the 2-day/1-night package include a night aboard the four-star Life Heritage Resort Ha Long Bay, a choice of three customizable itineraries, entrance fees to major attractions in the bay, full meals, complimentary welcome cocktails and afternoon tea, unlimited non-alcoholic drinks, as well as free use of the boat’s kayaks, snorkeling and fishing gear.

Available until Sept. 30, 2012, Life’s summer package is priced at VND 9,450,000 per couple, inclusive of taxes and service charge. 

Designed to accommodate only two guests per cruise, each of the heritage junks is a four-star floating hotel room, manned by its own four-man crew. Guests have full reign of the boat’s quarters, including a luxury cabin with panoramic windows, en-suite bathroom, swim deck, sun deck, and covered lounge area, and you can sail to any point of your choosing. Sounds like an incredible way to see the sights and immerse yourself in the beauty of this world renowned bay!

For bookings or enquiries, email or call +84 (0)33 6253 000.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hamilton Island's Great Barrier Feast set to entice foodies this September

Combine your love of all things gourmet with the spectacular beauty of the Great Barrier Reef - and a good dose of luxe living! - at Hamilton Island's Great Barrier Feast event held on Friday 14 - Sunday 16 September this year. The third in this popular annual event welcomes Martin Boetz as a guest chef, Australia's leading talent of contemporary Thai-style Asian cooking, who will be showcasing his culinary prowess of masterfully blended aromas, textures, flavours and colours to delight attending foodie aficionados with his unique fusion of exquisite Thai and Southern Chinese influenced cuisine.

Held at Hamilton Island's qualia, guests will immerse themselves in an intimate weekend of exclusive behind-the-scenes master classes and the best of the Whitsundays and Australian gastronomy. Emceed by revered restaurant critic Simon Thomsen, Friday's opening night will feature a welcome dinner by qualia's new Executive Chef, Alastair Waddell, paired with wines discussed by eminent wine expert James Halliday.

Saturday will see Boetz host two unique master class cooking demonstrations, providing guests with an exclusive opportunity to learn from and ask questions of one of the country's top chefs. The Great Barrier Feast will culminate with a showpiece dinner executed by Boetz at qualia's spectacular Long Pavilion.

And to celebrate, some of the island's best resorts have announced some really great accommodation packages (as if you needed any more enticing to come!). Guests can choose between the below accommodation packages for the culinary weekend which includes the dinners by both Waddell and Boetz, plus tickets to both master classes.

Package inclusions consist of: 
- two nights' accommodation
- Breakfasts both days
- 'Welcome Dinner' by qualia Executive Chef, Alastair Waddell
- Showpiece Dinner' on Saturday night prepared by Martin Boetz
- Tickets to both master classes
- VIP chauffeur service
- VIP return Hamilton Island Airport/Marina transfers and use of non-motorised watercraft.  
* qualia packages also include the hire of a golf buggy. 
* Guests must be 18 years or over to attend the Great Barrier Feast event.

  • Secluded luxury resort of qualia, package prices start from $1,695 per person, based on twin share.
  • Boutique Beach Club, packages are from $1290 per person, based on twin share.
  • For groups of up to eight people, stay at the new waterfront Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas, room only rates are from $1350.
  • Tickets for both dinners are an additional $720 total per person.
To book go to the event website or contact the Luxury Specialist team by email: or tel: 1300 780 959.