Affordable First Class to Australia: Shaking Away the Winter Blues in Australia
More than 300,000 North Americans have already discovered the joy of wintering in Australia, and that number is growing each year. Don’t worry about crowds though. With 10,685 beaches spanning more than 29,200 miles of coastline and 4.3 million square miles of land, there’s plenty of space to provide you with the luxury winter escape of your dreams. Whether you prefer visiting world-class cities, resting in lush mountain retreats or sunning yourself in exclusive island resorts, Australia is the ideal place to find respite from chilly North American winters. So buy your first class tickets to Australia today!
Qualia, Great Barrier Reef
Boat or fly into Hamilton Island’s Qualia resort, and you’re immediately ensconced in the private seaside retreat’s pampering delights. The Latin word qualia translates to “a collection of deeper sensory experiences.” Qualia retreat prides itself on catering to all the senses with exclusive spa services, seven-course meals, incredible views and customized tours and activities. The boutique property’s 60 private pavilions are distinctively designed, spread across 30 tropical acres surrounding the Coral Sea. The inviting pavilions are made of gleaming indigenous wood and stone, complimenting glass walls that overlook the water and the other scenic Whitsunday Islands.
For those who want to venture out of the resort, guests are given use of a private VIP chauffeur service or a golf cart for more self-directed exploration. Guests can be flown via helicopter to neighboring Dent Island for lunch or a round of golf at the treasured Hamilton Island Golf Club, or you can take the resort’s luxury 45-foot yacht for a sunset sail along the Coral Sea. Guests enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving and sightseeing trips to the Great Barrier Reef, and resort staff is happy to coordinate trips to see the reef from a seaplane.
Personalized concierge services ensure that your every whim is satisfied. Well-being classes in yoga and core strengthening are offered daily, and guests can participate in weekly sunset yoga classes at the nearby Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Pampering massage sessions and enriching meditation classes at the resort’s day spa keep guests relaxed throughout their Qualia visit.
Hamilton Island itself is a popular post-Christmas vacation site with ample family-friendly activities for visitors of all ages. The average high temperature from January to March is a warm 86 degrees, perfect for exploring the retreat’s beach activities.
Longitude 131°, Ayers Rock
Set in the middle of Australia’s massive desert, Longitude 131° offers a luxury experience like no other. Giving guests the illusion of camping, the resort’s 15 private “tent” pavilions are perched atop the dunes overlooking the iconic Uluru, or Ayers Rock. Posh, supple furnishings outfit the pavilions, from high-end linens on king size beds to iPads and wireless internet. You won’t want spend much time looking for modern, electronic entertainment, though, with Australia’s captivating bush surrounding you. Each private pavilion features a glass wall for daytime views of majestic Uluru and nighttime stargazing.
In fact, the term “starry night” takes on a whole new meaning here in Australia’s Red Centre. After dining in the luscious Dune House restaurant, you can gaze upon the Southern Cross and the Milky Way while the resort’s astronomer shares local creation stories influenced by the stars.
Even though the resort’s night-time activities are fascinating, you’ll also relish starting your day early. Guided sunrise walks around the magnificent Uluru are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and they’ll give you a chance to see the way lighting variations change the color of the magnificent monolith. The resort also offers bespoke experiences, from hikes through the Valley of the Winds to flights over picturesque Mount Connor. Guests can ride a camel through the outback, drive a Harley Davidson’s around Uluru or take a private guided tour of the region.
Visiting the outback from December to March is best suited to those who revel in very warm days. The average daytime high is about 96 degrees. Each pavilion is climate controlled and designed to stay cool during hot Australian summer days, though, so you can choose to stay indoors during the hottest hours of the day.
The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa, Byron Bay
If you’ve ever longed for a rainforest retreat, The Byron is your kind of resort. The subtropical rainforest locale gives the resort its exotic setting, but the resort’s lush accommodations, indulgent staff and chic architecture give The Byron its idyllic ambiance. Ninety-two one-bedroom suites are spread among the resort’s 45 acres, offering the perfect blend of privacy and society.
You’ll want to spend the day admiring the rainforest from the pool area and the resort’s spacious wooden verandas, but be sure to fit in time to enjoy the resort’s other attractions. Wander down to Tallow Beach along the resort’s rainforest boardwalk, relax with a daily yoga class, tour a farmer’s market with the resort’s head chef or spend the day being pampered in the spa. Tennis courts, a fitness center and a sauna round out some of the resort’s most popular offerings.
Daredevil guests prize nearby Byron Bay’s skydiving, hang gliding and wind surfing options, while those looking for a different sort of breathtaking activity enjoy kayaking, snorkeling and riding horses along the beach.
Dining at The Byron is just as superb as the resort’s setting and accommodations. Here, seasonal menus feature innovative dishes made with locally produced ingredients. You can delight in more stellar rainforest views from the elegant dining room while enjoying drinks from a palate-pleasing wine and cocktail list.
Byron Bay’s weather from December to March is just about perfect for North American residents trying to escape winter’s freezing temperatures. Daily highs average around 80 degrees, cooling down in the evening with rainforest showers.
Crown Towers, Melbourne
Urban sophistication is the hallmark of the Crown Towers resort in the heart of Melbourne. Views of the Yarra River are just as breathtaking as the hotel’s luxury interior that features contemporary furnishings with a touch of 1930s Hollywood glamour. The Crown Towers has everything you want as a cultivated world traveler: a sumptuous spa, a tony casino, dynamic nightclubs and exquisite shopping. While you’ll never have to leave the tower, the hotel’s Southbank location puts you in the perfect location to enjoy river cruises and visits to the Melbourne Aquarium, museums and dozens of other refined restaurants, shops and cultural activities.
The Crown Towers’ svelte rooms and suites offer all of the top conveniences of other five-star hotels, including spacious marble vanities, dressing rooms, fine linens and stunning views of the vibrant city, the Yarra River or Port Phillip Bay. Executive and Premier Club guests enjoy suites with abundant amenities, expansive space and floor-to-ceiling windows that make the most of panoramic views.
The Crown Spa is equally luxurious, offering spa and salon services such as therapeutic massages, rejuvenating facials, body treatments and specialized spa services for men. After a relaxing massage, you can head to the spa’s Aqua Retreat, where you can take a therapeutic rain shower, indulge in the vitality pool or restore yourself in the hammam. Renowned cosmetic surgeon Dr. Tass also operates his cosmetic enhancement clinic on site.
Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Blue Mountains
Australia’s legendary Blue Mountains are spectacular, and the Lilianfels Resort is the perfect vantage point for taking in the region’s splendor. The cliff-side boutique resort features 85 rooms with awe-inspiring views of the Jamison Valley and the Blue Mountains’ stunning Three Sisters rock formation. Lilianfels is the only five-star resort in the region, and the staff takes special care to preserve that status by offering knowledgeable concierges, round-the-clock reception and pampering staff.
As you would expect from a five-star resort, Lilianfels’ accommodations are top-notch. Furnishings are traditional and elegant; rooms are spacious; and service is attentive. The award-winning Darley’s restaurant is just one of the resort’s dining options, providing fine dining to complement the resort’s contemporary Echoes Restaurant and more casual The Orangery. Of course, you can also stay in your room and order in food from an extensive menu of healthy and indulgent dishes. Take to the resort’s 24-hour fitness center, indoor and outdoor pool, tennis courts or sauna, and you may even feel justified in treating yourself to some of resort’s special high tea confections.
After a rousing day exploring the World Heritage Blue Mountains, relax with one of the on-site spa’s therapeutic treatments. Menu options range from hand and foot treatments and facials to massages and traditional Turkish scrubs.
While the weather isn’t as warm in Lilianfels’ town of Katoomba as it is in other parts of Australia, daytime highs from December to March are comfortable in the low 70s. Those seeking an afternoon or two of beach weather can take a quick 90-minute drive to Sydney where temperatures are slightly warmer and the beaches are plentiful.