Mantra on Salt Beach – July 2016

We began our journey to the Gold Coast (GC) for the splendour in the grass festival in traditional parents on the loose style- crazy excited about bags filled with our own things rather than sultanas and books without pictures. It’s the little things. Oh plus booze. 

The easy flight was to be backed up by a quick drive to the resort. Despite several warnings about a bridge closure (“sure! Thanks for the tip! I will TOTALLY remember that”) we did not in fact remember that at all and then had to drive ALL the way around back through several towns to make it back into the village. 

So the short 20 min drive from the airport was anything but, however it gave us a better feel for the neighbouring suburbs and a promise to return for a house rental up in the hills of Cabarita. Or the ultimate in Instagram porn Halcyon House.

Leaning towards a a gated village feel, Mantra at Salt Beach is nuzzled in next to the Peppers resort, with a sweet selection of restaurants, cafes and shops in the middle to enable a swimsuit purchase with your flat white ( i may have indulged).

We were visiting for the Splendour festival but were mentally filing away the perks for small families so we could return . Everything about the village screams comfortable family holiday – good facilities, reasonably priced hotel rooms and cheap airfares. Tick, tick, tick. 

We booked a one bedroom apartment which was more than enough room for a couple. The sitting area was spacious and had a large wrap around balcony facing the manicured gardens and looking out to the ocean.

The decor is a little outdated but not overhelmingly so – more like a comforting 90s dream and a flashback to queensland family holidays. No complaints on the amenities apart from a weird positioning of light switches (which puzzles me – surely near the door is always the answer?).

The rest of the hotel feels like it has had a fairly recent refresh, with the pool and dining options clean and inviting, and a large lobby with colourful artworks and comfy couches. Beautiful lush gardens surround the pool and lead you out to Salt beach, a glorious stretch of white sands and crystal blue water. We spied an indoor playground and RSL style diner which i know would 100% have a terrible cover band that I would enjoy immensely. 

With the festival beckoning we did not maximise these facilities but will definitely return with the small person in tow. 

Mantra on Salt Beach


Radisson Blu Fiji – April 2016

I have given in to the family holiday. Still on my own terms to some degree, but this can only be described as an A grade child friendly holiday. Le sigh.

From afar, during the heyday of single life and then coupledom, I would not-so-silently judge those folk on family holidays, pitying their beige accommodation choices and promising never to commit such crimes.And yet here I am, knee deep in family vay-cay. And I’m loving it. 

To be clear, the holiday nerd in me has not dissipated since becoming a parent. I am still able to source the newest and shiniest hotel, or one with at least a hint of style and character that is not allergic to children. I push the boundaries of what is acceptable and hope that in time my two year old will simply blend in with the designer furniture and no one will notice she is a small human who is drinking a babycino and not a macchiato. 

But for now, we have gone FULL FAMILY HOLIDAY mode, arriving with the extended clan of Giants, to celebrate our foray into this unknown territory. Turns out you can still enjoy yourself even if you are not a fan of children (except your own).

The Raddison Blu is MADE for family holidays, and we barely saw a non young family group the entirety of our stay. The staff are incredibly friendly and engaging with children – the kids club comes highly recommended and it is easy to see why. The children are treated like royalty – and not in a pampered, spoiled way. The childminders are plentiful and sing nursery rhymes to the toddlers swinging on ocean front swings; the pool crew arrange pool volleyball competitions and rowdy rugby matches.

We were travelling as a crew so did not rely on the babysitting. We used the best babysitter – the pool. There were pools everywhere! A main family pool, adults only pool for those seeking some peace and quiet, toddler and kids pools. But best of all, the endless loop of fun from a waterslide that allows adults is by far the best activity. Nothing is funnier than watching our crew attempt to navigate the waterslide while presenting our child in “lion king style” upon dismount. Hours of entertainment. 

Several water sports options are available for guests at no charge. I had my heart set on a paddle board session but the morning I chose had a particularly unappealing beachfront so I was not lured in. In fact, there were not a lot of people in the ocean at all it made me feel quite uncomfortable. Sticking to the fake beach inside instead.

The rooms won’t win any awards in the luxury front – they are basic but comfortable. They are large, well i believe they are but we had a fold out couch open the whole time so we felt a bit squishy. Balconies feature in most rooms, and open up into the sprawling gardens and pools. My pet peeve is the fully tiled flooring – i just can’t get comfortable and cosy. Fine in a unit, or a kitchen, but not in such a small space. But they were clean and shiny so not really a complaint, just not very inviting. 

Food options are plentiful and surprisingly good for a resort. The standard buffet breakfast is served at the beachfront blu brasserie which also does an all day menu and a rotating nightly special. We opted for the ala carte cafe style breakfast in the Thai restaurant. Try the corn cakes – outstanding. I also expected to drink liquid mud but they made an amazing coffee – cannot ever remember a time I’ve said that at a resort. The Thai restaurant is also the hottest restaurant in town according to TripAdvisor and does not disappoint – and given we arrived late it was our first meal so we were off to a great start! 

Honourable mention goes to the Mexican next door at the Wynham resort – mamacitaa was packed to the rafters and delivered a steady supply of tex mex and a shitload of fajitas. Seriously, every second dish out of the kitchen was a flaming fajita. But we were in the holiday swing, so margaritas all round. Would definitely recommend for a family holiday but if you are single/couple I would head straight to the islands. 

Final comment – Free wifi everywhere – come on Australia, what are we doing? It’s an embarrassment.