On the northern NSW coast, Byron Bay began life as a haven for hippies and surfies, but over the past 30 or so years, it has transformed into being one of the most cosmopolitan towns in Australia.
There are still people enjoying alternative lifestyles and others seeking the perfect wave, but that's probably not why Byron was voted the No.1 destination in the world by European travellers in a poll by TripAdvisor.
Catriona went to The Byron at Byron, the town's largest five-star property. It's on 18 hectares of subtropical rainforest and has attracted the likes of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Elle Macpherson and Delta Goodrem. They spend their lives in the spotlight and when they want to relax, they usually want to go somewhere they ensure privacy.
The Byron at Byron can provide that, but if you don't need to be away from prying eyes, there's lots to do.
The nine one- and two-bedroom suites each have a kitchen and separate lounge and dining area, two enclosed balconies and are air-conditioned. Bathrooms have deep, free-standing tubs and separate shower, and California king beds ensure blissful sleep.
The Resort Spa has a holistic philosophy offering a place for relaxation, restoration and revitalisation of body, mind and inner-self. The Rasual Steam Room (a cleansing ceremony of clay, intermittent steam and rain shower rinse) is recommended in preparation for body treatments.
There are lots of those on offer, including wraps and polishes, hot stone massages, water therapies, algae milk and floral baths, facials, Swedish massage, aromatherapy, nail care and pedi-spa and holistic consultations. Spa packages can be enjoyed in the privacy of your room and there is even double outdoor bathing.
The Byron has a 25m lap pool, a sauna and a gymnasium, plus on-call personal trainers, power walks along Tallow Beach, mountain bike tours and diving at Julian Rocks.
Yoga classes are held on the beach each morning, and after that you can have a hand in designing your dinner under the watchful eye of the head chef. If there is something unusual you would like to add, off you go to the market.
It's a great way to contribute to the meal, pick up some culinary hints and mingle with locals at the market. Much of The Byron at Byron's fresh Northern Rivers ingredients are sourced there and menus are changed with the seasons.
Dine in the indoor restaurant or on the verandah, overlooking the pool and rainforest. Snacks and full meals are available, there is room service and spa cuisine will be provided on request. Cooking schools are held throughout the year.
Sydney Seafood School
Dermott went to Pyrmont on the edge of Sydney
's CBD to the fish market it's the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. There you will find an amazing array of seafood, as fresh as you can buy it. You can buy to take home, have one of the restaurants prepare it or, if you're feeling adventurous, learn to prepare and cook it yourself right there.
The Sydney Seafood School has been running for more than 20 years, and to celebrate its second decade, has undergone a sleek transformation.
It all began when local fishermen were bringing in catches not too many people were familiar with, let alone how to prepare them. Much of it was used as bait the next day. The idea of a cooking school was hatched and it has broadened to taking 12,000 keen students every year.
After watching a demonstration in a tiered auditorium, classes are split into groups of five and recreate what they have just seen, helped along with a guest presenter and assistants. Then everyone enjoys the fruits of their labour with a glass or two of wine.
The best equipment is used. There are custom-made stainless steel cooking islands with Fisher & Paykel appliances, including a gas CookSurface. The 117cm high-definition screens above the demonstration area ensure perfect viewing of the cooking action. Villeroy & Boch china and Spiegelau glassware give just the right touch when serving.
Dermott felt very fancy coming away knowing how to prepare Moroccan fish tagine and to make preserved lemons and chermoula as accompaniments. Not generally noted for his culinary skills, he found it quite easy and very enjoyable. We may have created a kitchen monster!
Byron Bay on the northern New South Wales coast and Pyrmont in Sydney's inner city.
Sydney Seafood School two-hour cooking class costs $85 per person.
Qantas Holidays to Byron Bay
To get you to Byron Bay, Qantas Holidays has a three nights package starting at just $759 per person twin share. .
Return economy airfares with Jetstar*, four days Hertz** car hire and three nights accommodation at The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa are included.
Travel dates and conditions apply and the offer ends on March 23, 2012, unless sold out prior, for travel between May 01 and June 30, 2012.
Per person twin share packages start at:
- Sydney $759
- Melbourne $829
- Adelaide $975
- Perth $1019
For more information and terms and conditions for today's great deal or other Byron Bay packages, contact QANTAS Holidays on 13 14 15 or see your local travel agent.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
QANTAS HOLIDAYS AIR AND LAND PACKAGE
Agents may charge service fees and/or fees for card payments which vary. If you book with QANTAS Holidays an additional 2% fee applies to credit payments. Prices are correct as at February 16, 2012 but may fluctuate if surcharges, fees, taxes or currency changes. Offers subject to Availability. Amounts payable to third parties not included. These property ratings are QANTAS Holidays views, not official ratings. Please check all prices, availability and other information with your travel consultant before booking.
*Jetstar airfare is based on Starter airfare, including carry-on luggage only.
Availability is limited (not available on all flights). Bookings must be made direct with Qantas Holidays or a travel agent. Package cancellation fees apply.
**All car rentals are subject to the terms and conditions of Hertz Rental Agreement. Minimum renter age without surcharge is 25 years of age. Drivers aged 21-24 years will be charged $30.25 per day payable directly to Hertz depots on pick up.
Refer to QANTAS Holidays General Booking Conditions available at www.qantas.com/holidays.
Qantas Holidays Limited ABN 24 003 836 459. Licence No. NSW – 2TA 003 004, VIC – 31288, QLD – TAG 740, SA – TTA 48 116, WA – 9TA 510.
Prices correct at March 3, 2012.
For further information
The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa
77-97 Broken Head Road
Byron Bay, NSW 2481
Ph: 1300 554 362
Fax: 1300 554 371
Sydney Seafood School
Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Ph: (02) 9004 1111
Fax: (02) 9004 1144
Ph: 13 14 15