For some time we’d been wanting to splurge on a stay at The Palazzo Versace Hotel. We’d first come across it as the start and end point of the very naff UK TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’. Z list celebrities are dumped in the ‘jungle’ for a few weeks – really the Gold Coast Hinterland, and required to debase themselves whilst progressively being voted off until only the King or Queen of the Jungle are left. Its one of those programs that you don’t want to admit you watch but get dragged in – the cheeky wit of the hosts Ant and Dec always made us laugh as well. Since we’ve been in Australia, the show has made its way over here, with Z list Aussies being dumped in the African jungle – no doubt in a place just as ‘remote’ as the location used in Australia.
Anyway, that was our excuse for burning an inappropriate amount of money on a one night stay at the Palazzo. Unfortunately, one night was enough and even though we’re not celebrities we were happy to be getting out of there. The suite itself was great, very spacious and elegant, and with views over the pool and out to the ocean. However, the service and food were disappointing. We won’t go into the details here, but it wasn’t the standard we’d expect anywhere, let alone a hotel that promoted itself as the worlds first six star hotel. If you do want to know a bit more – check out our Tripadvisor review.
Luckily, the next day we were off to one of our favourite Queensland spots, Noosa. As an added bonus we had a reservation at a restaurant that’s just been rated as Queensland’s hottest by The Australian newspaper, Wasabi.
We’d first come to Noosa on our tenth wedding anniversary before we lived in Australia. We hired a 1969 Mustang convertible to drive up the coast. It was great fun, but the car was a bit temperamental so we were glad to get it back in one piece. Anyway, we fell in love with Noosa and have been back lots of times since we’ve been living in Queensland. We’ve also seen its fortunes ebb and flow a bit in that time. Its traditionally a place with pretty high end shopping and dining and on some visits its seemed like there were a lot of vacant shops and fewer visitors. When we arrived this time we were pleased to see it was bustling, lots of visitors, especially families, and packed out restaurants. We headed straight for Hastings Street, the main shopping area just behind the beach, to sit on the sand with a coffee. The beach and view were as beautiful as ever.
We’d decided to stay somewhere a bit different so had booked into Habitat Resort B&B a few km from the centre. It was great and a pleasant contrast to the Palazzo, with impeccable service and standards. Coming through the front door we were welcomed by Harry and Sally like we were old friends. Our room, the balcony suite was huge and very well appointed including a massive walk-in wardrobe and ensuite with double sinks. Before going out for the evening, once again, Harry & Sally paid great attention to us, and it felt almost like they’d prefer it if we stayed in with them. However, Wasabi restaurant beckoned so we made our excuses and left.
If you’ve read our ‘How We Roll’ section you’ll know that we aim for good value but not really budget travel. Our biggest indulgence is splurging on good restaurants and Wasabi was one of those occasions. It didn’t come cheap but it was absolutely worth it. Delicious Japanese food, first class service and a beautiful riverside setting. This was enhanced even further by the sun setting as we dined. We chose the 9 course Omakase menu which changes regularly dependent on the produce that is freshly available. The restaurant has its own farm, Honeysuckle Hill, where it grows the veg and herbs. It was impossible to choose a favourite course as they were all spectacular, have a look at the menu below.
To accompany the food we had matched beverages. Not just wine, but also different types of sake, and a cocktail using Japanese whisky. We’ve eaten degustation in a lot of top restaurants in the UK and Australia, e.g. Cutler & Co, Aria, Esquire, Urbane, Le Manoir Aux Quatre Saisons. Wasabi rated up there with the best of those. The matched drinks were some of the best we’d ever had. All in all, an amazing experience.
In the morning, we were again made to feel like we were VIPs by Harry & Sally, as we had breakfast in the fantastic outdoor area next to the pool. They couldn’t pay us enough attention as we enjoyed the early morning Noosa sunshine..
A final point to note, however, is that Harry & Sally were Habitat B&B’s resident labradors, and Yve and John, their owners were also fantastic. Thanks to John for the evening aperitif , Yve for the super breakfast and to them both for their warm hospitality.