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Kate Durack

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Movenpick Resort and Spa in Phuket ticks all the boxes for a satisfying and enjoyable family holiday.

Set in the family-oriented precinct of Karon Beach, Movenpick Resort and Spa is a wonderful choice for families holidaying in Phuket and is one of my favourite resorts to go with children.

The location is ideal, with a beautiful beach, and many dining, shopping and entertainment options, all within close walking distance.

The hotel caters for all families’ needs with a Kids Club, four swimming pools and six fantastic restaurants offering a very high standard of food.

Additionally, the resort provides daily water activities and a complimentary Chocolate Hour – A Movenpick original feature – which includes a selection of chocolate sweets and treats.

 

The standard of accommodation is exceptional.

We stayed in a Two Bedroom Family Suite which was perfect for a family, set amongst the lovely tropical gardens and very closely situated to the main family pool area. In fact, it was the best hotel accommodation in which I have experienced with my two children – so spacious, well facilitated and in a great position opposite the Little Birds Kids Club.

It has a large screen TV in the family area and in each of the bedrooms, which includes a good range of family-friendly channels, including Nickelodeon.

We were able to use the hotel’s X Box too which the kids enjoyed and suited me when I felt like an afternoon siesta.

This accommodation is massive with a large living space, adjoining bunkbed bedroom, a King and Twin bedroom, each with their own generous en-suites.

This space easily accommodates a family of six. It has three mini bars which all included complimentary tea and coffee facilities

The family style accommodation is positioned close to the The Little Birds Kids Club, for children aged 4 to 12, which offers many creative and stimulating activities for the children including soap making, candle making, tie dyed t-shirt creating.

 

We spent many hours relaxing around the fabulous main family pool area, which features a large free form swimming pool, swim up bar and water slide, as well as daily water activities.

There are an additional three public pools on site and some private accommodation offers its own plunge pools.

Movenpick Resort and Spa has six fantastic restaurants which serve amazing cuisine across a variety of International styles ranging from Thai to Brazilian.

We enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast each morning which included a large variety of international cuisine at Pacifica, which also offered a-la-carte Thai and western lunch and dinner.

OrientAsia serves the most scrumptious Thai food, as well as an array of other Asian fare. It was fresh and delicious, and the décor was tasteful and authentically Thai, creating a delicious local experience.

The hotel’s Mint restaurant offers a cool, fun, evening vibe with lots of yummy share plates, oven baked pizzas and refreshing cocktails, in an alfresco balmy setting opposite the beach.

My favourite dining option I experienced while in Phuket, was at El Gaucho Restaurant – Movenpick’s Brazilian restaurant, which offers churrasco – where we were able to choose from a succulent selection of grilled prime cuts, served straight from a skewer at our table. It was a fun and special experience, and the meat was cooked perfectly.

Another unique feature offered at Movenpick is the Chocolate Fondue experience at Café Studio. I have never encountered an experience like it. It was creative and extensive, including a large range of fruits and baked treats with melted chocolate and Movenpick’s own signature ice-cream. It has to be tried to be believed!

The Spa at the resort is very special. Aromatic oils, gentle music and comfortable furnishings create a soothing ambience and my Thai massage was exquisite!

The staff at Movenpick are delightful – warm, friendly and helpful. Staying at this resort was a wonderful experience for me and my children.

JW Marriott in Phuket is a fantastic choice for a family holiday, offering a magnitude of activities and dining experiences, all to a five-star standard.

 

JW Marriott in Phuket is set on Mai Khao Beach, which provides a fresh, ocean breeze throughout the grounds of the hotel, and is ideal for walking along its long stretch of sand.

 

The resort is exceptionally well-facilitated with six restaurants, a large gym, spa, three swimming pools and a huge array of activities on offer.

A highlight for my children and myself was a personalised cooking class offered by a top Thai chef at the hotel’s Ginja Cook Cooking School.

We made juicy, delicious, prawn cakes, a fresh and spicy chicken noodle salad and warm, rich duck red curry. It was fun and a feast, while learning some useful culinary skills.

We also visited the local fresh food markets with the chef, which was novel and educational, as we learnt about local ingredients and cooking techniques

The kids club hosts many activities; my children’s favourite included tie dying t-shirts and a pirate treasure hunt in which they followed a map around the hotel locating lollies.

The hotel offers a large range of accommodation styles, with classy and attractive furnishings and décor throughout.

We stayed in a Deluxe Terrace room, which is one of the smaller accommodation options on offer, and it was ample for me and two children. I slept in the King bed and they slept on a Queen size futon which was converted from a sofa children’s sitting area.

 

The range of health and wellness activities on offer was particularly impressive. My 11-year-old daughter and I did a singing bowl meditation class which was a good way to de-stress, bond and nurture ourselves.

JW Marriott Phuket has created some appealing Wellness Packages, some of which are tailored specifically for families.

The food at all the restaurants was excellent. My personal favourite was Ginja Taste, at which I enjoyed the best Thai food I’ve ever had, with the soft-shell crab the best dish. The menu and range of flavours offered at this restaurant was expansive.

The Kabuki Japanese restaurant was a total hit with the kids! It offered an entertaining Japanese Cuisine Theatre experience – complete with a chef doing a personalised Teppanyaki-style – live cooking show for us, which was humorous and animated. The food was fresh, delicious and plentiful.

 

The Hyatt Regency in Phuket is a stylish, beachfront resort in Kamala Beach.

Classy experience at the Hyatt Regency

“In fitting with the sleek, upmarket look and feel of the Hyatt Regency hotel, the accommodation was modern and stylish.”

The Hyatt Regency is a high-quality resort offering an exceptional standard of accommodation, food and service. The design is very modern and stylish, offering a luxurious experience. 

It is beachfront, offering expansive, uninterrupted ocean views from all vantage points throughout the premises.

The hotel is well situated for relaxation, in the peaceful setting of Kamala Beach, yet is close enough to Patong (10km) for those who want to take advantage of the popular shopping or nightlife on offer.

In fitting with the sleek, upmarket look and feel of the Hyatt Regency hotel throughout, the accommodation is also modern and stylish.

We stayed in a Two-bedroom Regency Suite, which is contemporary and very spacious. It includes a King Bedroom, a Twin bedroom, lounge/dining area, and huge balcony with outdoor dining/living space and ocean views. This is ideal for a family of four, with loads of space in its 97 square metre floor plan. 

A favourite part of our Hyatt Regency experience was access to the Regency Club, which offers complimentary breakfast, drinks and delectable cocktail hour, inclusive of a plentiful spread of delicious cocktail food and refreshing drinks.

The Regency Club also has an infinity pool, which was lovely to enjoy while watching the sunset with a glass of wine and appetizer.

And positioned close and handy to the Club is the hotel’s Kids Club, enabling parents quality adult time to enjoy the Regency Club or the nearby Sunset Grill restaurant, which offers fine BBQ grilled steak or fresh local seafood, in a romantic setting, also with full uninterrupted views of the ocean at sunset.

The pool area is huge, and complete with a bar setting and large restaurant very close by.

The buffet breakfast is of a high quality, offering a huge assortment of Western and Eastern fare, ranging from cakes and pastries to curries and dumplings.

https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/thailand/hyatt-regency-phuket-resort/phuhr/rooms

The Chava is a quiet, relaxing and intimate resort that is ideal for families wanting a safe, comfortable and friendly getaway in Phuket.

Luxury at The Chava Resort

“The accommodation was magnificent. We stayed in a 2-bedroom suite which was luxurious and huge!”

The Chava Resort is a gorgeous boutique hotel on Surin Beach, Phuket, which offers an intimate, friendly feel, making it very suitable for families.

I particularly noticed how warm and friendly the staff were. They provided a lovely, personalised experience.

The free-flowing pool was a great hub to hang out and relax with the family. The food was sensational, and dining was ambient, around the lush tropical pool setting.

The menu was not limited by the hotel’s relative size; the range of dishes on offer was extensive and a very high quality.

We sampled a range of delectable items from the restaurant, including a tasty seafood basket and the local, Thai signature dishes. It was all fresh and extremely flavoursome.

I enjoyed a fantastic Thai massage in the comfort of my bedroom, which was great as the kids watched TV while I could properly relax, since travelling on my own with the children restricts the opportunity to venture out of the hotel alone.   

The accommodation was magnificent. We stayed in a 2-bedroom suite which was luxurious and huge!

The suite took up a generous 160 square metres of floor space, which included two large bedrooms, two generous bathrooms, including a massive bath, a large flowing living, dining space and open plan self-contained kitchen.

Many families like to have chefs come into their room to prepare a meal for them in the comfort of their own living space which is a fun and novel idea, and the kitchen and living space cater well for this.

There were three TVs – one in each of the bedrooms and another in the lounge area.

The living space also offers a large balcony with an entertaining area which overlooks the pool.

https://thechavaresort.com/

Spiritual teacher, healer and medium, Oscar de Souza, shares why we need to acknowledge and nurture our emotions.

Experiencing emotions is our soul’s purpose, according to spiritual mentor and medium, Oscar de Souza. Honouring our emotions can also help us maintain positive relationships and manifest our desires.

We arrive here alone with nothing, and we leave alone with nothing, except the emotions we acquire, says Oscar de Souza, speaking from the Spirit Energy Centre on NSW’s Central Coast.

Acknowledging our emotions prevents us from offloading them onto others, especially our children and partners, and subsequently them rippling through society

Most excitingly, working with our emotions, rather than ignoring them, helps us manifest what we truly desire.

Despite the importance of valuing our emotions, Western society teaches us to disregard them, and worse, to feel ashamed for having them, which is not something we want to be infiltrating to our children.

The best way we can become attuned to our emotions is to observe ourselves, says Oscar. [Meditation is a great way to develop this skill.]

He says we need to be observant of the emotion that’s resonating within us, rather than being subjected to it controlling us, dominating us, and enticing us to act out.

Oscar’s been told by his guides, “Emotions are variable frequencies of energy operating simultaneously”, which is why some people can feel various emotions at the same time.

Oscar says, “The simplest form to expand the neurological system of the conscious brain to be able to harness, access and be attentive to the energy that resonates within us that’s constantly, forever fluctuating, is to first observe our mind, observe ourselves and not be puppets on a string.”

If we acknowledge our emotions, even understand why we feel that way, and to honour them, we are less likely to be puppeted by them and lash out at others. Unfortunately, those we love are often the first to be hit by our emotional releases.

“Instead of articulating what we’re feeling, we’re often being controlled by what they’re feeling”

Oscar explains a typical household scenario:

“The husband (or wife) comes home stressed. They’re going to be communicating on that level of emotion. We’re not usually observant and noticing these emotions inside. We don’t decide to calm them down or be attentive to them, so we don’t impose them on our children or each other (we don’t impose them consciously, we don’t even know they’re doing it).

“We get home, our own fuse is already at the end of its tether. Perhaps we’ve been treated badly at work, there’s traffic, bills, expenses, and then we have to clean, cook, wash up … it’s all putting you on edge.

“It’s then easy to turn around to your child and say, ‘Turn off that machine!’ or ‘Get off that computer!’

“Now, that child foremostly heard “Bang!”.

“Secondly, the words that were spoken.

“Months later our child speaks to us that way and we wonder why.

“We have just been puppeted by our emotions. We are all guilty of that.

“Everyone gets puppeted, and the problem is we indirectly, and even innocently, jab that pain and stress that we’re feeling onto the other person.

“So, it becomes a virus because that person jabs another person with it and it just swims through society.”

The more we understand our emotions, we’re less likely to be subjugated by them, and will be able to articulate in language by talking about them.

“People don’t want to say to their partner they’re feeling a bit insecure and feel like their energy is no longer connected to them,” Oscar says.

“Rather than asking questions based on this, such as ‘Do you want to do more things in life without me?’ we tend to brew, be fearful, and then start to fish … ‘What did you do today? Who were you with?’ or even go through their phone, which just makes people feel violated.

“Emotions people have shouldn’t control their dialect or behaviour, but moreso be a language to the brain to go this is what’s resonating, let’s attend to it.”

Oscar says it’s even worse for men as they have been conditioned to not feel or show their emotions, “don’t cry, suck it up”. “Poor men innocently have been trapped into a void that is not natural,” he says.

“And women, being intuitive, are hit with a brick wall when they try to broach this. They feel a storm inside, they feel fear, they feel confusion.

“The man’s like, I don’t know what you’re talking about, and it takes a while for them to process.”

Oscar says the consciousness of femininity and the consciousness of masculinity is the concept of Yin and Yang. We all have that in us, whether we are male or female.

Some are slightly off balance, some have more of either.

“Men need to start being more intuitive, talking about their emotions, listening to their inner self, not being just driven by the mind.”

“I can’t say that women now need to start applying the male consciousness because unfortunately 2000 years of male dominance, a patriarchal system, means women have already had to assimilate the masculine consciousness within themselves. But men are yet to assimilate the feminine consciousness within themselves.”

Not only can honouring our emotions be great in maintaining more harmonious relationships and averting the ‘virus’ of offloading onto others, they can help us manifest what we want in our lives.

The effect of our emotions was explored through the water experiments conducted by Japanese author and pseudoscientist, Masuru Emoto, whose work demonstrated how the sentiment of a word, which is energy, can affect the molecular structure of water. Keeping in mind we’re made up of about 78 per cent of water, words said to us can impact us strongly.

“If our thoughts (sentiments) on a piece of paper affects water, imagine we have that thought going over and over in our brain, ‘I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough. Life is shit. Life is shit,’” says Oscar.

People are not only putting that energy back into their whole water aspect and altering the energy there, they’re emitting it into the future, so naturally start to have those experiences; and it’s a vicious cycle.

When we realise the energy that resonates within us, the energy we’re emitting, the thoughts that carry it, we can stop causing that ripple effect.

Affirmations, prayer, spells, incantations, are effective when we feel the word, when we mean it and we say it with sentiment, says Oscar.

If we’re panicking on the inside and reading this word, then fear becomes the dominant emotion.

“The key is, when we do feel afraid, we comfort ourselves, ‘It’s ok, I’m afraid,’ that’s ok,” he says.

“Once we acknowledge it, we can move from there but when we’re fighting against it that it’s not going anywhere, so it helps to acknowledge the fear and where it came from. What experiences have led me to have this fear?

“When we know what caused this, ok it’s failed relationships that make us afraid of falling in love again, for example, it’s not so dominant in our psychology or our energy.”

Oscar advises writing down an affirmation in our own handwriting because our brain will absorb it much better.

We should then read it out aloud at least 20 times with no intention just to read it out so that the wording becomes familiar to the brain, so you know what you’re using.

And then our focus can be feeling each word.

For example, when someone says, “I love you,” it feels different when they really mean it. Quite often we want others to say it, but we rarely look in the mirror and say it to ourselves, it’s quite confrontational. And it’s the most important thing.

A sleep study done either at home, or in a dedicated sleep unit such as St John of God in Murdoch will be able to determine whether a sleep disorder is present.

Sleep disorders are common, affecting about one third of all school-aged children.

Young children’s sleep disorders will likely affect the household’s sleep quality and overall energy levels.

Lack of good quality sleep in children or adolescents may impact growth, school performance, memory, mood and behaviour.

How do I know my child has a sleep disorder?

– Difficulty settling into sleep at a reasonable bedtime

– Waking often during the night (older than two years) or excessive restlessness

– Tired upon waking

– Loud snoring, gasping or difficulty breathing

– Morning headaches

A sleep study in a dedicated sleep unit such as St John of God in Murdoch will be able to determine whether a sleep disorder is present.

What are the most common sleep disorders?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome:

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can cause snoring or breathing difficulties by blocking airways.

An Ear Nose and Throat specialist can perform a surgical procedure to remove these.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) / Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD):

RLS describes discomfort such as tingling or prickling in the legs close to bedtime.

Movement in the legs relieves this temporarily and as such, sufferers will have an irresistible urge to move or walk.

PLMD is a similar movement of the legs but occurs during sleep.

Massaging the legs, a hot bath or an iron level test may help.

Parasomnias:

Parasomnias describe a group of psychological symptoms such as sleep walking or talking, nightmares, or sleep terrors.

This is generally not a concern unless these are a risk to the child’s safety, ongoing or very disruptive.

How much sleep do kids need?

Newborns to 3 months: 14-17 hours

Infants to 12 months: 12-15 hours

1 – 2 years: 11-14 hours

3-5 years: 10-13 hours

6-13 years: 9-11 hours

14-17 years: 8-10 hours

Top tips for kids sleep

From St John of God Murdoch Sleep Medicine and Paediatric specialist Dr Annie O’Donnell

1. Keep regular times for sleeping and waking to regulate the body’s clock

2. Create a bedtime routine that is relaxing, avoiding anything stressful

3. Make the room dark, cool and quiet. If there is noise out of your control, try white noise such as a fan or calming music

4. Invest in some supportive and comfortable bedding

5. Limit daytime naps for older children

6. Get some sunlight in the morning and avoid bright lights at night.

7. No devices or blue light within one hour of bedtime.

8. Ensure kids are getting plenty of physical activity, particularly early in the day.

9. Avoid stimulants such as sugar before bedtime.

10. Don’t let kids go to bed too full or too hungry. Keep mealtimes at least two hours before bed.

What is a sleep study?

Clinical Operations Manager from Murdoch Sleep Unit Simon Kemp said a sleep study (polysomnogram) is an overnight test that monitors sleep and breathing.

“The sleep test uses non-invasive sensors and a routine digital video correlate results with images. There are no needles and no extra medication is given.”

“Most people worry that their night’s sleep won’t be the same as at home, but a sleep unit can usually gather enough sleep data to make a diagnosis.”

Mr Kemp said patients arrive in the late afternoon with one parent or carer.

“Kids are able to bring along any personal items from home and one adult must stay with the child for the duration of the evening,” he says.

“After settling into your private room, small sensors are attached to the skin of the head, chest, finger and legs, enabling precise monitoring of your child’s sleep.”

“These are attached to state of the art equipment that monitors oxygen levels, breathing, brainwave activity, eye and leg movements and heart rate during sleep.”

“A continuous recording of your child’s sleep is created and provides a precise diagnosis of sleep disorders.”

Results of the polysomnogram are then sent to your referring doctor and a treatment plan is put in place.

We stayed at the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground which was ideal for our family. It was a short walk to Disneyland (the website said 8 minutes, but it was shorter for us) so we could walk to and from each day at our will. One day our 6-year-old son became overwhelmed with Disneyland, so he and I walked home late afternoon while his sister and dad stayed for the fireworks, and it was very safe and easy to do this, which I liked.

I chatted with other guests staying there who had much younger children and they particularly liked this hotel for its convenience, as they were able to visit Disneyland in the morning and return to the hotel for their children’s nap times, recharge, and then venture back out after lunch.

The hotel was very clean and modern. It seems most of the hotels in the Anaheim region are geared to families to accommodate the Disneyland market, as such I expected them to be well worn but this was not my experience of the Howard Johnson hotel.

The rooms were immaculate – clean, modern and well serviced – including a coffee machine, which I always appreciate.

We stayed in a double room which was spacious, including a family seating area, balcony and bathroom, with both a bath and shower (and fun kids bathroom accessories), which is useful with children.

This hotel is very popular, and family oriented with lovely grassy and treed outdoor areas, a large pool and a separate Pirate themed water playground, Castaway Cove.

The evenings were balmy and light until 8pm when we were there in July, so it was lovely to lay by the pool after a busy day at Disneyland.

There are many local dining options geared to the family market, including competitive pricing and “Kids eat free” options. There are also many delivery options for in-room dining, including tacos, Chinese, pizza, Italian, burgers and fries and more, which really suited us after a hectic day walking around Disneyland.

For more information visit www.hojoanaheim.com

Who doesn’t dream of some time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life? Whether it’s a weekend you want or a few weeks, NSW has it all. From the beautiful beaches to the Snowy Mountains NSW has it covered!

Snowy Mountains

source: images.destinationnsw.com.au

The Snowy Mountains have long been a favourite for snow enthusiasts and is perfect for summer and winter.

Highlights include

Summer

  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Water sports – kayaking, canoeing, sailing, boating, fishing, swimming
  • Cycling
  • Kosciusko National Park

Winter

  • Cross Country Ski Week for all levels (normally early August)
  • Skiing and Snowboarding
  • Kosciusko National Park
  • Snowball fights!

For more information visit www.snowymountains.com.au

Perisher

source: images.destinationnsw.com.au

Perisher is a great snow spot for families because it caters to the new and experienced as well as the young and old. Perisher has a fantastic Snowsports School which offers lessons to all levels and starts as young as 3 years old.

Accommodation

The first step is deciding where you want to stay! The most popular style of family accommodation is a self-contained apartment, however, there are plenty of other styles to choose from as well.

For more information visit:

Getting there

Cooma is the largest town in the region and is approximately 400km from Sydney. Jindabyne is closest to Kosciusko National Park and is roughly 465km away and Perisher, Thredbo and Charlotte Pass are close to it.

For more information visit www.perisher.com.au

South Coast

source: images.destinationnsw.com.au

The South Coast sure is home to spectacular scenery and exciting activities.

Highlights include

  • Kiama Blowhole
  • Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk
  • Minnamurra Rainforest
  • Mogo Zoo
  • Batemans Bay
  • Jervis Bay
  • Beach fun

Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures

This is a great activity for the whole family. Its beautiful views take in the rainforest canopy, Lake Illawarra and the South Pacific Ocean. A big bonus is that it’s both pram and wheelchair accessible.

It’s located approximately 1.5 hours south of Sydney so could even be a day trip.

For more information visit www.illawarrafly.com

Jervis Bay

source: images.destinationnsw.com.au

Known for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters and national parks, it’s also famous for its dolphins and whales. There are 80-120 dolphins in Jervis Bay all year round, which gives you plenty of opportunity to see them. The whale season is from June to October and truly is a magnificent sight to see.

For more information visit:

www.jervisbaytourism.com.au

www.dolphinwatch.com.au

Mogo Zoo

Mogo Zoo is home to rare and endangered species from around the globe. The kids could be ‘Keeper for the Day!’

www.mogozoo.com.au

Accommodation

Batemans Bay is a good spot to base yourself in if you want to stay in one spot. From backpackers to luxury, there is plenty to choose from.

  • Big4 Batemans Bay Beach Resort (cabins, caravans and camping)
  • Chalet Swisse Spa at Surf Beach Retreat

Getting there

Follow the Grand Pacific Drive and take your time. Batemans Bay is about 280km from Sydney.

For more information visit:

www.visitnsw.com

www.grandpacificdrive.com.au

Hunter Valley

source: image.destinationnsw.com.au

Most of us love a good winery and Hunter Valley doesn’t disappoint! With roughly 150 wine producers and breweries a plenty, you’re bound to come across one you like! However, there are some that are more ‘family friendly’ than others and include kids’ menus, playgrounds and large grassy areas for the kids to enjoy. This then allows the adults get onto the serious business of eating and drinking!

Highlights include

  • Ballooning
  • Horse riding
  • Hunter Valley Gardens Aqua Golf & Putt Put
  • Extreme Go Karting
  • Drayton’s Family Wines
  • McGuian Cellars
  • Gundog Hunter Cellar and Gourmet Pantry

Accommodation

  • Potters Hotel, Brewery and Resort
  • Hunter Valley Resort
  • Twin Trees Country Cottages

Getting There

The tourist route T33 is a lovely drive. Another option is taking the train.

For more information visit:

www.huntervalleyvisitorcentre.com.au/wine/child-friendly-wineries/

www.familyhotelsguide.com

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains has a lovely laid back feel and is perfect for a quick getaway.

Highlights include 

  • Leuralla Toy & Railway Museum NSW
  • Jenolan Caves
  • The Three Sisters
  • Hop on Hop off Trolley Tours
  • Megalong Valley Farm
  • Horse Riding

Accommodation

  • Owls Cottage Katoomba
  • Jenolan Caravan Park
  • Emirates One & Only (luxury)

Getting There

Glenbrook is roughly 75km away and the Jenolan Caves are nearly 200km so driving is the most practical option. However, the train or bus is also another way.

For more information visit:

www.bluemts.com.au

www.stayz.com.au/accommodation/nsw/blue-mountains

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo

source: images.destinationnsw.com.au

For something a bit different why not stay the night at the zoo? For many families, this is a one off opportunity to get up close and personal to the animals while creating magical family memories.

Accommodation

  • Billabong Camp
  • Zoofari Lodge
  • Savannah Cabins

For more information visit www.taronga.org.au

Getting there

Dubbo is an hour’s flight from Sydney or you can drive, train or bus it. The distance from Sydney to Dubbo is just under 400km.

For more information visit www.dubbotourism.com.au

Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie is still close enough to Sydney for a quick trip, or you could make this a stopover on your way up north.

Highlights include

  • Whale watching (June to October)
  • Water fun – swimming, surfing, fishing, kayaking,
  • Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park
  • Timbertown Heritage Theme Park (on 87 acres of natural forest!)

For something a little different, why not visit the Observatory? Imagine what the kids will be thinking when they look through the telescope! It’s open on Sunday and Wednesday nights throughout the year.

Accommodation

I stayed with my family at the Mantra Quayside Apartments and found the location good and apartment to be a reasonable size.

Other spots are

  • Mantra Observatory Resort
  • Marina Holiday Park

For more information visit:

www.port-macquarie.net/

www.portmacquarieinfo.com.au

Getting there

The distance from Sydney is approximately 380km so no need to rush or you can fly if you prefer.

Coffs Harbour

How can you not enjoy a place that is home to The Big Banana?? Coffs is a great spot to break your journey if you’re on a road trip from Sydney.

Other highlights include

  • Dolphin Marine Magic Show
  • Helicopter Scenic Flights
  • Sky Diving
  • Water fun

Accommodation

We stayed at the Breakfree Annuka Beach resort and loved it. The water slide was a big hit in our family! Other options are

  • Smugglers on the Beach (I love that name!)
  • Park Beach Holiday Park
  • Aqualuna Beach Resort

For more information visitwww.coffscoast.com.au

Getting there

By road the distance is approximately 540km from Sydney so allow enough time if not stopping on the way. From Port Macquarie it is roughly 150km and flying is another option .

Byron Bay

source: destinationnsw.com.au

Byron Bay is such a melting pot of people and ideas and it’s a good spot to base yourself.

Highlights include

Accommodation

  • Lennox Beach Resort
  • Discovery Parks Ballina

For more information visit:

www.visitbyronbay.com

www.byronbayaccom.net

Getting there

Being 800kms from Sydney there are a few options to consider.

Driving is one of them, as is also the train and flying.

Flying into Ballina is with Jetstar, Virgin and Rex.

Helpful driving tips

  • Make sure you have plenty of water with you
  • Don’t get low on petrol
  • Keep mobiles charged
  • Keep first aid kits topped up and carry essential medication
  • Tell someone your itinerary, especially if travelling to isolated areas.

For travel information visitwww.visitnsw.com/destinations/nsw/transport

Paradisus is a beautiful luxury beach resort with lush gardens and terraces, set on one of the few swimmable beaches in Los Cabos.
My six year old son still raves about Paradisus in Los Cabos, Mexico, claiming it’s his favourite holiday spot. He loved the indulgence of the all-inclusive resort hotel experience, whereby we could select anything from the menu, at any time.

The all-inclusive menu was massive – a choice of seven restaurants which offered all day dining – from pasta to prawn cocktails to lemon brulee at midnight by room service, all inclusive. I don’t think I could ever get tired of that novelty.

Sometimes we just wanted to chill out in our rooms and watch a movie, so the 24-hour room service was ideal. The bar in our rooms was also continually well stocked with complimentary snacks and drinks.

The pools were fabulous – a choice of four, three of which offered swim-up bars from which we could select any drink off the menu including mocktails for the kids or a margarita for me.

Paradisus is exceptionally well catered to families, offering a private Family Concierge Lounge to relax, read, use the internet or try out a variety of snacks and drinks.

The hotel also offers a personal concierge who can be contacted from anywhere in the hotel by a remote device.

For more information visit www.paradisusloscabosresort.com

The Four Seasons Hotel at Westlake Village offers an unparalleled wellness escape in a blended setting of home comfort and 5-star indulgence.

The Four Seasons Hotel at Westlake Village is all about health, wellness and retreating from pressures of modern life. It is set in the pristine environment of the Santa Monica mountains, not too far from the Malibu beaches, but close enough to the heart of LA to get away for a night or weekend.

This hotel was probably the most impressive and luxurious hotel in which I have ever stayed.

This hotel was probably the most impressive and luxurious hotel in which I have ever stayed, with all the trimmings one would expect from a 5 Star establishment including opulent furnishings, stylish décor, ambient lighting and fantastic service.

We stayed in an enormous corner suite which possibly had more comforts than home! It was well-appointed with a private bar, coffee machine and electric curtains which opened into breathtaking views from the floor-to-ceiling views of the local mountains.

The rooms were adorned with lavish furnishings including mahogany furniture, polished boards, handmade rugs and grand chandeliers. The linen was plush linen and there was loads of space.

Our accommodation included two bathrooms, one of which was enormous and included a deep marble spa and satellite TV.

The reception at the Four Seasons Hotel is warm and accommodating, and instantly one feels relaxed and peaceful. The hotel throughout is quiet, spacious and extremely comfortable.

We were welcomed on arrival with a complimentary glass of champagne, fresh fruit and a “mini chocolate mountain on a plate” as described by my children.

We were welcomed on arrival with a complimentary glass of champagne, fresh fruit and a “mini chocolate mountain on a plate”.

There were two pools on the premises, one for adults only and the family pool area which was also deluxe with comfortable day beds, fluffy towels, a jacuzzi and poolside service for refreshments.

The hotel is family friendly, but also perfect for that much-needed adult escape time, to take advantage of the wellness programs on offer, which comprise retreats and individualised health services inclusive of the services of a team of doctors and health experts.

For more information visit www.fourseasons.com/westlakevillage/