Do you desperately need a holiday but lack the time and funds to pack your bags and escape for an overseas vacay? When you’re trying to juggle your everyday life around annual leave, it can be very hard to carve out that much-needed downtime. Truth is, it really is essential. A few days away from the day-to-day grind can make a huge amount of difference to your mental and physical health! It’s essential to switch off every now and then. This can mean sleeping in, looking at your phone less, getting outdoors, eating great food and just finding time to recharge and reconnect with yourself. If this sounds like the kind of break you need, but you don’t have time to plan it, never fear! I’ve got you covered with three great itineraries to inspire your next staycation.
The ‘Not Your Average Gold Coast’ Staycation
Stay at Mercure Gold Coast Resort. You’ll find the resort a few minutes drive from the beaches and major shopping spots of the Coast, nestled among picture-perfect golf courses, offering a peaceful respite from the Gold Coast’s busy streets. The sprawling resort has recently undergone a refurbishment, boasting two gorgeous swimming pools (perfect for a cheeky cocktail) and spacious, comfortable rooms that’ll see you indulging in a well-deserved sleep in. Set among lush, tropical gardens it’s a beautiful spot, ideal for finding peace and rest in a tranquil part of the coast.
Eat Grab a bite to eat at the resorts on-site restaurant, where head chef Darren Clements shows off his Asian and Arabic inspired menu. Be sure to try the free-range chicken and cashew nut curry served with turmeric rice, coriander chutney and a crispy pappadum. Finish off your meal with their incredible dark chocolate brownie, served with popcorn, burnt caramel gelato and the most indulgent cherry ripe ganache. Another top tip is to head up to Q1 for sunset drinks and stunning views of the coast.
Play Golf lovers can tee off at one of the many golf courses in the surrounding area while newbie golfers (me) can get their Pro career underway at The Golf School. Trust me, whacking a bucket of golf balls at the driving range is a GREAT way to de-stress. If you’re keen to be a big kid again for the day, spend a few hours at Dreamworld. Matt and I ran from ride to ride, like children, having a whole lot of fun getting our thrills on new and well-loved favourite rides. A great way to see the best views of the Gold Coast is to tackle the SkyPoint Climb at Q1. Experience the amazing 360-degree views of the famous coastline and Gold Coast hinterland from 270 metres above sea level, hanging off the tip-top of Q1! If this sounds a bit too daring, consider a hot air balloon ride instead. Departing from Mercure Gold Coast, Balloon Aloft offers one-hour scenic flights that’ll have you gently gliding over the earth below, marvelling at mountains and spotting the coastline.
The ‘Am I Really Still In Brisbane?’ Staycation
Stay at Clear Mountain Lodge. This incredibly peaceful spot is nestled comfortably in the mountains, 40 minutes drive north of Brisbane CBD. It doesn’t take long to get to Clear Mountain Lodge, but you feel a million miles away from it all, given the serene location and fresh mountain air. The views are second to none, offering a sweeping panorama of the Glasshouse Mountains, Lake Samsonvale, Brisbane CBD and even out to the sand dunes of Moreton Bay and the surrounding islands. I recommend a stay in one of the recently refurbished deluxe or privilege rooms. Spacious and comfortable, the rooms have a modern finish and whole lot of coziness to them. You’ll find yourself sinking into the large bed, all the stress of the week melting away. Just remember to turn your alarm off so you can sleep in and make the most of it.
Eat Mandy’s on the Mountain. The on-site restart at Clear Mountain Lodge offers insanely good food, the kind you just wouldn’t expect to find on offer. While the whole vibe of the Lodge is laid-back and relaxation focused, the kitchen means business! Here, you’ll find an impressive menu offering fresh, seasonal dishes like braised pork belly with apple and celeriac crumble and wilted spinach serviced with a marsala and fig jus. P.S Don’t miss dessert!
Play The tranquil setting offers many opportunities to truly relax and unwind. Spend a few hours at Stephanie’s Mountain Spa being pampered with a full body massage, facial or treated to one of their indulgent packages. You can also jump in the car and spend your weekend exploring nearby areas like Dayboro and Samford. My favourite way to make the most of my time at Clear Mountain was to open up the sliding doors to my room, overlooking the bushland below, let that fresh mountain air roll in while I was curled up on the couch with a good book. Time spent soaking in the gorgeous bathtub is also time very well spent!
The ‘I Really Love Brisbane’ Staycation
Stay at Mercure Brisbane. For a stay much closer to home, consider a night spent right here in Brisbane’s CBD. Mercure Brisbane offers the perfect base to rediscover our hometown and explore the new restaurants, bars and cafes popping up all over the place. You’ll find the hotel offering luxurious and comfortable rooms with killer views of our beautiful city and the river, which comes alive with twinkling lights in the evening. It’s a great spot to base yourself for a foodie extravaganza and ensures nobody has to be designated driver!
Eat As the sun sets, head to nearby Burnett Lane for evening drinks at Super Whatnot, working your way through their fabulous cocktail and wine menus. Once you’re done, duck into SurveyCo for an unforgettable dinner in a gorgeous setting. Try the perfectly cooked lamb rack served with smoked eggplant, grains and broccoli. If going out for dinner sounds like too much work, stay in and feast at the on-site restaurant, MRepublic. Be sure to sample the pan-fried barramundi served with Kipfler potatoes tossed with sour cream and chives, steamed green beans and basil beurre blanc sauce.
Play Join a (free) Brisbane Greeters walking tour, I recommend the art-focused ones, where you can learn about Brisbane’s street artists, spot hidden pieces of art and history dotted around the city and find things you’ve never noticed before! A stay at Mercure Brisbane is also a great place to base yourself for taking in a show at South Bank, shopping up a storm in the city or spending a few very peaceful afternoons drinking cocktails in the gorgeous golden sunset at Eagle Street Pier.
A huge thank you to Mercure for having me as a guest, allowing me to experience each of these great itineraries for myself.