THE flags are flaccid but the surf is sloppy. Out the back line, ballsy board riders are being smashed, while in the shallows, tourists are tackling the chop. Some win and float over the waves, others lose and are unceremoniously dumped as if they’ve been on a rotten date. Brazen blue bottles saunter into the shore which is already littered like diamonds with harmless jellies. The air is scented a Surfers Paradise summer, of salt, seaweed and sunburn. It’s all so sublime.
I’m shaking off a long, lusty lunch at the new voco Gold Coast, the 389-room hotel in which I will also sleep the night. Brissos, like me, will remember this building as the Watermark, but after a multi-million-dollar refurbishment, it’s now the upscale voco brand, the first in the world for the InterContinental Hotel Group’s stable. Later, I will retire to my deluxe ocean view room, which, along with the suites, have undergone a total overhaul including new bathrooms, beds, carpet, sofas and televisions.
But first, we lunch. We start at the Social House, a space with numerous nooks and crannies, intoxicating old black and white pictures of bathing beauties, and recycled timber windows. There’s a colourful cocktail menu here including martinis which taste like apple pie and lemongrass; and the salted caramel which features home-made salted caramel sauce and Himalayan rock salt. Voco Sales and Marketing Director Ashley Britnell says there are many different spaces within Social House to explore and experience.
“The idea is there is a place for everyone and at every time of the day,” he says.
Clifford’s Grill & Lounge is our dining destination and visitors can expect some innovative offerings from Executive Chef Daniel Smith and his 10-burner iron grill. That, and the fact that the food served here hasn’t travelled more than a 200km radius. On this delicious day we feast on the likes of the Char-Grilled 1kg t.bone steak; Bangalow pork; and a bread board of Middle Eastern dips of moutabel, spicy hommus Beirut, sour herbs, and house-baked flat bread. Voco General Manager Brenden van Blerk says voco is a Latin word meaning “to come together”.
“At the heart of it, we want to break bread with everyone,” he says.
And break bread, we do.
This hotel, which uses the tagline “reliably different” is also working towards a more sustainable footprint, currently running a market trial in some rooms of tamper-proof recycled amenities products.
It also one of only a handful of Gold Coast hotels which recycles 100 per cent of its green waste and receives a rebate from the Gold Coast City Council which then uses this waste on local garden beds. There’s also a hive of some 350,000 bees which produce honey used in everything from its desserts to its cocktails and even bees wax candles for sale in the lobby.
At this edgy establishment, you’ll also find a modern gym, two swimming pools (a second one was built after the towering Q1 across the road cast too much shadow on the first); the L’Aqua Day Spa; 800 square metres of meeting space; and a third dining space in Waves Buffet restaurant. Back in my 18th floor room, it’s a stylish Hamptons vibe with crisp, white linens (even the bedding is made from recycled plastic) and a yellow and blue colour theme, right down to the chaise lounge which is perfectly positioned against the large window. And it’s from here that I sit and watch the shadows grow longer on this Surfers Paradise summer day. Little by little the lights flicker on in the neighbouring high rises. The last stragglers leave that sloppy surf and I smile and think, yep, this is pure, rolled, Gold Coast.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Voco Gold Coast https://www.ihg.com/voco/hotels/gb/en/surfers-paradise/sfppb/hoteldetail?cm_mmc=GoogleMaps-_-VX-_-AU-_-SFPPB
AN item on the menu catches my eye. For around $282 I can partake in a four-course meal featuring some of the most sought-after Chinese delicacies used in traditional medicine for their health benefits, some of which are said to even cure impotency, followed by a collagen-boosting facial and seawater-infusion massage. And I can even enjoy some Birds’ Nest dishes, which, among other things, are said to increase my libido. Lust being the least of my worries, I eschew the exotic eats and treats and head straight to the spa itself where a Balinese life guard stands poolside and encourages me to run against a series of strong currents and be blissfully blasted by a range of other jets for the next two hours.
I’m at RIMBA Jimbaran Bali, the new 8 hectare resort nestled within the award-winning AYANA’s 77 hectare grounds overlooking Jimbaran Bay. And in typical form, I’m looking for love. Guests at both properties can use all facilities, so I figure two resorts are better than one, and divide my time on the hunt for erotic experiences. While RIMBA’s “Beyond Skin Deep” package at the renowned Ah Yat Chinese restaurant is indeed tempting, I consider instead stopping at AYANA’s L’Atelier Parfums and Creations where for $80 and 45 minutes of my time, I can create my own perfume. Or, in my case, a love potion. Unfortunately, the island is all out of eye of newt, so I head on to my next destination, a cocktail at the world-famous oceanfront bar Rocks. I follow this up with a seafood dinner plucked straight from the ocean before me under a beautiful Southern Cross sky at Kisik. This is feet-in-the-sand romance at its finest, a concept not lost on a fellow female yoga friend and me as we gaze at the stars and ponder our lack of love.
Back at RIMBA, ardent admirers of conservation will adore what this resort has created. Opened last November as a sister property to the luxurious AYANA, RIMBA is named after the Indonesian word for “forest”. This resort, which overlooks the Uluwatu Hills on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, has embraced integrity through its design and razor-sharp environmental principles.
The ark-shaped lobby ends in a giant pond which resembles the shape of a ship which is fitting, as the lobby itself is made of recycled wood from three old fishing boats from Sulawesi and driftwood gathered by hand along a stretch of beach. On the walls you’ll find handmade bricks, in the roof-top bar recycled glass bottles, and in the rooms, furniture crafted from old packing crates. Sustainability is king here, with a rainwater harvesting and water recycling plant plus an on-site greenhouse and organic fruit garden.
When it launched, a traditional “rainstopper” was enlisted to seek the blessings of the Gods for a dry event to ensure the perfect sunset. It worked and the proverbial sun has been shining down on this property ever since which is just as well, given there are six pools alone here.
So with so much good, where is the bad as the title of this piece suggests? Well, I actually agonised over how to start this piece. You see, the day I arrive at RIMBA a Queensland man has been detained upon arrival at Denpasar Airport after trying to enter the plane’s cockpit during a Virgin flight. Even worse, he’s from my hometown of Brisbane and the incident makes headlines around Asia/Pacific. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my fellow countryman. Bali has become a divisive destination in the past decade or so following the Bali Bombings, Schapelle Corby’s detention and recent release, and the Bali 9, who still ponder their fate in Kerobokan Prison. And while these headlines are surely show stoppers, they have one common denominator – they have little to do with the average Balinese.
In his book Bali Raw, Australian expat Malcolm Scott spells out in detail some of the unsavoury aspects of Bali. He talks of emerging crime and culture clashes among gangs from some of Indonesia’s other islands. Add to that recent reports of rubbish on some of this island’s beaches and it would be all too easy to avoid Bali altogether. Don’t. Boycotting Bali due to Bintang bogans is like avoiding the entire Gold Coast because of some of the strife in Surfers Paradise. Or New York because of the World Trade Centre bombings.
And then there’s the Bali. My Bali is one of beauty, peace, culture and coconuts. Of colourful characters, crooked smiles, frangipani flowers and food, glorious food. And you’ll find plenty of these elements at places such as RIMBA which is doing its best to remind the world that Bali is indeed the Island of the Gods.
Bali may not be big – it’s only about 100km wide and long – but it’s huge of heart. You’ll rediscover this heart at Rimba and at her sister AYANA through the people, the properties, and the professionalism. Take another look at one of Australia’s nearest neighbours. You might just fall in love all over again.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Rimba Jimbaran Bali. For more information go to http://www.rimbajimbaran.com
IT’S a Wizard of Oz kind of weekend, where I discover courage and compassion in the most unlikely of characters…the Gold Coast. Beneath the naughty neon lights, the throaty hum of the ocean and the throbbing drum of nightclubs for which Surfers Paradise is famous, lays a rip curl of creativity which is building into the mother of all swells.
My weekend starts with a yoga session in front of Kurrawa Beach, in the park named after swimwear supremo Paula Stafford, whose two-piece bathing costumes put bikinis and the Gold Coast on the global catwalk. I’m in a public park, with my legs in the air, spread wide apart, simultaneously contemplating my form and hoping the swirling seagulls don’t poo on me. It’s a day of downward dogs and inward reflection.
Our yoga teacher for the morning is Laura Humphreys from Threedom Wellness, who gently urges us to accept the notion that yoga is a balance between courage and compassion. And you can forget about bringing your ego to class.
“Backbends are about the future. Forward bends are about looking inwards. We often don’t like to look inwards, it scares most of us,” she says. Interestingly, Laura has to force my body into a forward bend, which becomes easier with each deep yoga breath. Some days, you’ve just gotta breathe.
There’s just enough time for a short break at Broadbeach’s eclectic Elm for a dirty chai – a coffee and chai – before the next wave deposits us at Burleigh and Roar Food. Business Partners Darren Jones and Suki Kasinathan are passionate about sustainable eating, and in two hours will teach you how to prepare 10 raw food recipes. It’s here I learn that cauliflower is “sensitive” – the kind of vege you might avoid if you were dating it, but a perfect substitute for couscous. Want a new twist on pasta? Why not try zucchini spirals? Or a raw food apple pie – cheeky crusts need not apply.
“Each of your vegetables has a personality. When you are eating raw you really connect to the food. Each individual apple will have a different sweetness,” Suki says.
“For me it is a journey and I don’t know where it is going to end but it feels really good.”
The plates you eat on during this class are made from a bi-product of sugar cane, as are the forks and even the recipes are printed on ethical paper made from wheat and soy rice.
The current sweeps me to Budd’s Beach and onto a kayaking journey with Steve Vah from Australian Kayaking Adventures where we cut through the water with our paddles and through the bullshit of life with talk of love and passion. Steve is married to a Colombian and he knows a thing of two about fiery females with big hearts. Our journey along the Gold Coast canal takes us past Bar Helm Bistro @Surfers, where later that night I’ll indulge in Helm’s Smoking Texas Mary cocktail take on a Bloody Mary and reluctantly concede that my friends made a wise choice in the Parmesan Crusted Snapper Fillet with lemon butter.
I’m on the Gold Coast for Australia’s premier blogging training event – ProBlogger – and it’s here that courage and compassion raise their handsome heads again. In his opening address, ProBlogger architect Darren Rows proffers an insight into facing your fears.
“Fear is a signal that something important is about to happen. It’s a good thing. Ask yourself – what’s the worst thing that can happen, how would you recover if it happened, and what’s the best thing that could happen? The reality is somewhere in between,” he says.
“Even wobbly courage is courage. Figure out what the fear actually is. Don’t play the comparison game, comparisons are not fair. People show the best of what they do, where you know everything about yourself, even the bad stuff.
“Compare yourself to yourself. You are unique. Use that to your competitive advantage. No one has your story.”
Guest speaker Trey Ratclif, a photographer who is blind in one eye, is 42 and only picked up a camera 7 years ago. His self-taught imagery is legendry around the world. The kind of excellent work that attracts jealous detractors.
“It is arguably better to have a weird brain than a normal brain. People on the edge of the bell curve do interesting things with their lives. Let the rocks people throw at you just fall,” he says.
“There’s a few people out there who are evil and feed a white core of hate inside of me. I fight back with awesome.
“A blog is probably the greatest self-discovery tool of our age. You find out new things and truths within yourself. When you are telling your stories you are living in the now.”
Actor Samuel Johnson, who is riding around Australia on a unicycle to raise money for breast cancer research in honour of his sister Connie who is battling the disease, makes a surprise guest appearance at the conference. You need courage and compassion to make an epic journey around a monster-sized country like ours. And a heart of gold. And that’s where the crux of this story on courage and compassion lies for me. As a blogger, I think you must write with heart, humour or humility. Like you should live your life. And, if you’re really lucky, you might find all three.
The Global Goddess explored The Gold Coast as a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland. For more information on a Gold Coast holiday go to http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au.
To donate to Samuel Johnson’s ride for breast cancer, please go to http://www.loveyoursister.org
THANK you to all of those Global Goddess followers who read last week’s Kissed with Bliss post and entered the competition to win a Bamboo Bliss spa treatment courtesy of the eforea: spa at Hilton, Surfers Paradise.
I was overwhelmed (and a bit excited) by your comments and ideas on what constituted bliss for you (many seemed to mention hot men and wine), and selecting one winner wasn’t an easy task. But in the end it was Pauline Mathers who captured the Goddess’ attention with these evocative comments.
“Goddess! I was blissed-out just reading your latest blog! But if I wanted to be blissed-out further, I would rent one of the gorgeous houses in the Bunya Mtns in winter … complete with a cosy fireplace and several good books, several bottles of red wine and enough cheese to keep us alive for a month. It would be high on a hill with views of the bunya forests and on a sunny, still day I could sit outside and chat with the visiting wildlife … Wallabies, parrots, currawongs. During the night the wind would be howling, and I would be snuggling under my doona reading a book, the house kept warm by having the fire going all day. Oh and Mr J.M. could come too!”
Congratulations, Pauline, you are the lucky winner of the 90-minute Bamboo Bliss spa treatment worth $155. An honourable mention must go to Lee, who gave us her version of bliss in two seasons. Unfortunately, I don’t have a second prize voucher Lee, but am happy to pop around and give you a massage with my own bare hands, for all the effort you injected into these comments…
“Summer bliss: a cool breeze floating over my skin and an even cooler drink in my hand, wearing a sarong, sand in my toes, no phone, no deadlines…just the sound of the sea.
Winter bliss: rain on the roof, no reason to go out, glass of wine, flannelette pyjamas, a good detective novel or a pile of newspapers, music softly playing, good conversation.
Is that greedy?”
Finally, the ONLY man brave enough to comment (do men not need bliss?) – was Richard Tommy Campion, with these words:
“A blissful Goddess – but where’s the blissful man?”
Ah, Tommy, if only I knew.
Thanks so much for entering, everyone. The Global Goddess is already in the throes of planning more exotic and erotic prizes in the coming months, so please keep reading, encourage your friends to follow my blog and keep moving forward on your personal path to bliss.
I AM experiencing pure and utter unadulterated bliss. Or to be more precise, Bamboo Bliss, the new massage treatment designed specifically for winter at the Hilton Surfers Paradise. On this particular day I am the guinea pig for this steamy spa sensation. Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking… gee that Goddess is a humanitarian. What will she do next, donate a kidney to medical research?
This blissful journey in the eforea: spa at Hilton begins wearing a fluffy robe, on a day bed, in the relaxation room sipping an Indigenous-inspired Yulu tea of wild rosella, lemon, aniseed, wild lime and lemon myrtle leaves. It’s red, warm and like a little bit of the Dreamtime has exploded on your taste buds. Take your time, there’s no rush here.
I am then led into a treatment room and where the bliss begins in earnest. My therapist and new best friend Lauren rubs my back with a Vitaman Sea Salt Scrub consisting of sea salt, aloe vera and wattle seed. You’re on the Gold Coast remember, so picture a shirtless surfer scrubbing you down with sea salt in the ocean, or, if you like, a topless sun baking woman. What interests me here is that the Vitaman range, as its name suggests, was originally designed for blokes, but women liked it so much, it inspired this new treatment. Lauren then places a hot towel on my back and wraps me in a cocoon, a little like your mum used to when you ran out of the surf on a cold day.
Warm bamboo is then rolled gently up my legs, not unlike a stick of melting butter. On a crisp day outside, it’s simply scrumptious and I feel like I’m a juicy roast duck being prepared for dinner. The back massage follows with a Vitaman Relaxing Oil of almond, orange, jojoba and lavender. Lauren massages my arms and gently stretches them, a little like a Thai massage before moving to the front of the body. A reflexology-style foot massage is a highlight here.
On this particular day, Lauren throws in a vigorous head scrub as well. Remember those days when you got home from the beach and mum shampooed all the salt out of your hair like her life depended on it and you thought “geez, mum, that’s a bit rough?”. Well, this is nothing like that. It’s firm and relaxing and like all those thoughts you can’t slow down in everyday life are being massaged from your mind.
The eforea: spa at Hilton is the first purpose-built spa of its kind at a Hilton property in Australia. It boasts seven private treatment rooms including a Vichy Shower and two double rooms for couples – in case you happen to have a shirtless surfer or a topless sun baker of your own.
The word “eforea” describes “a place where people want to escape from the pace of modern life”. Want to escape even further? Book yourself a room at the Hilton Surfers Paradise, which sits right in the heart of this tourist strip. This property offers 250 one, two and three-bedroom Hilton Residences and 169 Hilton guest rooms and suites. There’s a signature restaurant Salt grill by Luke Mangan, the FIX Bar with cocktails created by a team of expert “mixologists, and The Food Store delicatessen and wine bar.
But why should The Global Goddess have all the fun? I really value my readers and, in conjunction with the Hilton Surfers Paradise, I am thrilled to offer a prize for one loyal follower. The prize, worth $155, includes a 90-minute Bamboo Bliss treatment at the eforea: spa at Hilton, Surfers Paradise. Yes, one of you will be able to indulge in the journey I have described above.
To enter, you must be a follower (if you’re not, simply click on the follow button in the bottom right hand corner) AND you must leave a comment telling me what your idea of “bliss” is. It’s THAT simple! The competition opens today, Monday, May 27 and closes on Monday, June 3. The winner with be announced on this blog early next week. Transport to the Hilton Surfers Paradise is not included (but you can borrow my broomstick). The prize itself is available to be taken up until November 22, 2013, so if you are planning a trip to the Gold Coast between now and then, please enter.
I’VE awoken in a Surfers Paradise hotel room and I have a swollen eye. The Surfers Paradise part I can explain, even to myself who takes a few minutes to remember what I’m doing on Australia’s Gold Coast. But I have no idea how I’ve acquired the swollen eye. I check my hotel bathroom for a baby, a tiger and Bradley Cooper.
The last thing I remember was playing Putt Putt golf with some friends before having a few drinks. Unless things have changed in the past 20 years, Putt Putt, from memory, is a pretty tame affair which doesn’t result in swollen organs.
I decide to take Quasimodo out to breakfast, acutely aware this shall not the morning I will be meeting the man of my dreams. When I head back to the 22nd floor my room key is no longer working. Which would not be such a problem were it not for the strange grumble my stomach has just made. Just when I think my morning can’t get much worse, it does. The cause of my swollen eye suddenly becomes apparent. I’ve overindulged in oysters at the seafood buffet the previous evening, I’m having an allergic reaction, and now my gut is about to explode. In the lift. Full of women attending a beauty conference.
I break into a cold sweat. By now, I’m frantic. It occurs to me that I’m about to resemble an Australian footballer, and crouch on the carpeted hotel hallway with my swollen eye and do the unspeakable. I telephone my friend whose room number I can’t remember. “Open your door,” I scream down the line, “O-p-e-n. Y-o-u-r. D-o-o-r!” A door swings open down the hall by which stage, I am crawling like one of the crabs which is causing all the commotion inside me. I burst into what I hope is her hotel room, and not that of some poor Japanese tourist, and dash to the toilet.
My retro weekend in Surfers Paradise has begun with a blast. My friend, Corina, has decided our next adventure should be cycling along the beachfront to the Southport Spit. It’s going to be so simple, bikes are even delivered to our hotel room. Corina is wearing her trademark high heels, tighty whitey pants, and a koala backpack we’ve nicknamed “fluffy”. I am having visions of my own loveliness, dressed in a long white skirt, hair blowing in the sea breeze, riding along the oceanfront like something out of a feminine hygiene ad. Dame Alison, our other friend, has wisely decided to take a limo transfer to meet us for lunch. I take off and make it to the first corner when my skirt becomes entangled in the bike chain. Corina falls off her bike. We are covered in grease when we limp in to lunch at the old Southport Bathing Pavilion which is now a café. A bloke called Chico offers us a Chicko roll. Things are looking up.
That evening, Corina has planned a special surprise. A trip to the Wax Museum. The operators resemble the Adams family which is more than we can say for the actual wax exhibits. Barack Obama is white. Michael Jackson is black. Whitney Houston looks like Bobby Brown. The whole display is creepy and just little bit scary. We leave abruptly. We need a drink.
We decide our trip to the glitter strip isn’t complete without a Chinese banquet and head to the Focus Chinese Seafood Restaurant with our new-found friends, Cade, Caitlin, Shae, Grant and Maggie. Full of Peking duck, we decide to eschew a trip to the old haunts – Melba’s and Cocktails and Dreams – in favour of an early night. I go to sleep smug in the knowledge we’ve had a pretty tame night. Even my eye has almost returned to normal.
On Sunday morning I awake to find a game of Two-Up in last night’s handbag, a Meter Maid’s business card and bum muscles I didn’t know I had, courtesy of our bike ride. I ponder this as we board the Aquaduck for an amphibious adventure on the Broadwater. There’s no suspension on the vehicle and we bounce along the Esplanade, as do our boobs. Corina tells me to “get ducked”. I tell her to “duck off”. Back at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Dame Alison sits near a farting man exhibit while the museum owner catches me stroking a male fertility statue. “Be careful, you’ll get pregnant,” he warns, before adding, “but of course you have to have sex to do that.” Just my luck to be the second woman in history to conceive by immaculate conception.
By the end of the weekend, I realise something I’d long forgotten. Surfers Paradise is tawdry, tacky and terrific, just like my friends. It will pick you up, twist you around, dance with you and gently put you back down. But dull? Never, ever.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of The Outrigger, Surfers Paradise, whose carpet, she is pleased to report, remains intact and whose bathrooms are to be commended, in whichever room you may find yourself in a panic. To experience your own retro weekend, go to www.outrigger.com.au