Six of the best – Great escapes for Father's Day

Perfect places to wind down and take a break

By Winsor Dobbin
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Restaurant at Richardson Hotel, Perth


Looking for somewhere special to treat Dad, or anyone else special, to a day or two of relaxation and good food and wine? Winsor Dobbin suggests some great getaways that are located either in one of our major cities, or within easy striking distance. These are perfect places to wind down and take a break from the frenetic pace of everyday life.


Shangri-La Hotel - Sydney

You can’t beat the quite extraordinary views from some of the newly refurbished rooms at Sydney’s five-star Shangri-La Hotel. There’s a bird’s eye look at the Sydney Harbour Bridge and unobstructed views of the Opera House and the ferries moving in and out of Circular Quay. It is a quintessentially Sydney scene – one of the most famous views in the world.

Situated in The Rocks district and within walking distance to most city attractions, the hotel boasts the city’s largest rooms – and all have water views. Altitude restaurant, 36 floors above the city, was awarded a hat in the 2011 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and the Shangri-La also houses Australia’s first CHI spa.  There are 563 rooms and suites in all, but service is both slick and personal, making this a great base from which to enjoy a city break.

The Shangri-La Hotel is at 176 Cumberland Street,The Rocks, Sydney. Phone (02) 9250 6000 


Bruny Island - Tasmania

Bruny Island is the same size as Singapore, but while around 4.5 million people populate the Asian city state, less than a 1000 live permanently on Tasmania’s fourth-largest island, which lies just a 30-minute drive and 15-minute ferry ride south of Hobart.

It’s the perfect escape from big-city blues with limited mobile phone reception, wildlife, beautiful (and deserted) beaches and dramatic scenery. There are several cafes on what are effectively two islands joined by a narrow isthmus and several excellent self-catering accommodation offerings run by Bruny Island Escapes.

Gourmets will be in their element here with smoked fish and yummy dips from the Bruny Island Smoke House, a selection of fabulous cheeses from Bruny Island Cheese, fresh oysters from Get Shucked and even wine tastings at Bruny Island Premium Wines, Australia’s southernmost vineyard. Bruny Island Cruises offers award-winning coastal voyages while there are several excellent walking trails.

All Angels Church House, a former place of worship converted into a comfy cottage can cater for up to six people and has a log fire for winter and great views over Daniels Bay.

All Angels Church House is at 4561 Bruny Island Main Road, Lunawanna. Phone (03) 6293 1271


The Olsen Hotel - Melbourne

Opened in 2010, The Olsen is a lovely city oasis; on Chapel Street, right in the centre of the shopping and cafe action in South Yarra but wonderfully removed from the hustle and bustle. One of Melbourne’s three Art Series hotels - along with the Cullen and the Blackman - it showcases many original works by leading Australian artist John Olsen, both in the rooms and public areas.A massive canvas representing the Yarra River and its flora and fauna dominates the lobby area.

This is a boutique-style hotel despite its 229 rooms and suites – and has two on-site restaurants; the casual Blue Bottle and upmarket Steer Bar and Grill, as well as a day spa. There is a gym and spectacular glass-bottom pool for those wanting exercise, while all accommodation has large flat-screen TVs, wireless internet access and kitchenettes. The beds are awesomely comfortable.

Several of South Yarra’s best restaurants are but a short stroll away; we opted for the familiar French offerings of long-time favourite France-Soir (which never disappoints) over the meaty pleasures of Squires Loft and spicy temptations of Dainty Sichuan but the options are many and varied. The level of service at The Olsen is outstanding – the staff could not have been more helpful. Art lovers may want to book a tour with Art Series curator Jane O’Neill, who runs a selection of tours under the Art Aficionado Tours brand.

The Olsen Hotel is at 637-641 Chapel Street, South Yarra. Phone (03) 9040 1222


The Louise and Appellation – Barossa Valley

Lovers of fine wine and food will be in their element at one of South Australia’s pre-eminent gourmet retreats, The Louise, which is a member of the exclusive Small Luxury Hotels Group.

Located in the heart of the Barossa wine country – just over an hour north of Adelaide – The Louise has a sophisticated Tuscan/Provencal vibe and offers luxury accommodation - even entry-level suites – there are only 15 in all - have their own private terraces, deluxe linen and amenities, king beds, large spa tubs, iPod docking station and free Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs with DVD players, stocked mini bars and walk-in rain showers.

The on-site Appellation, where chef Mark McNamara leads the kitchen team, specialises in using fresh, local ingredients wherever possible. Choose from al a carte or degustation menus matched with wines. Of course, there is also an award-winning collection of wines – both local and imported.

The Louise is at the corner of Seppeltsfield and Stonewell Roads, Marananga, Barossa Valley. Phone (08) 8562 2722


Pullman Reef Hotel Casino - Cairns

Want to get away from it all but keep active? Cairns’ revamped Pullman Reef Hotel Casino offers plenty of options.  Situated in the heart of Cairns, overlooking Trinity Inlet, it has a range of dining and entertainment choices just a short stroll from the wharf where visitors catch dive boats to the Great Barrier Reef.

Each of the 128 rooms features its own private garden balcony and spa bath, and there is a rooftop swimming pool and full gym. Charming rooms have a Tropical North Queensland ambience with plantation shutters, light timbers and plenty of space. The adjacent casino complex houses the Vertigo Bar, a popular spot for cocktails, and the Velvet Underground nightclub along with a range of gaming tables.

The hotel’s signature restaurant, the stylish Tamarind, features an Asian/Western fusion menu and is regarded as a local "must do". It is open nightly. Check out dishes like Vietnamese rice paper rolls, a salad of prawn and blue swimmer crab, or Penang duck curry. There’s a good wine list and the service, too, is spot on. Other on-site options include Flinders Bar and Grill and Cafe China while there is free computer access in the lobby.    

Pullman Reef Hotel Casino is at 35-41 Wharf Street, Cairns. Phone (07) 4030 8888.


The Richardson Hotel and Spa - Perth

Perth’s leading boutique hotel, the Richardson is a regular tourism award winner. Situated in West Perth, just 400 metres from King’s Park and midway between the downtown area and busy Subiaco, it has just 74 rooms and suites – all of them are spacious and luxurious.

There’s a business centre and in-room broadband along with a spa club, gymnasium, indoor swimming pool and the upscale Opus restaurant and cocktail bar, which is well established as one of Perth’s premier dining venues and chef Todd Cheavins serves dishes with French, Asian and modern Australian accents, using fresh Western Australian produce whenever possible. Opus also boasts its own wine annex; a raised semi-private section with a library of fine wines against a natural stone backdrop, as well as a private dining room. There’s also an on-site The Spa facility featuring a range of facials, massages and body wraps, including several treatments for men.

The Richardson is at 32 Richardson Street, Perth. Phone (08) 9217 8888.



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