latest accommodation trend in Australia is what Tourism New
South Wales (among other state bureaus, I suspect) has dubbed
compatriot tourism. It goes like this: gather the family members
or friends you don't see nearly enough of and persuade them
to band together and rent a holiday home. The escape need not
be for the standard Christmas or school holidays but a battery-charge
long weekend, Easter break or special occasion.
like the tag of house-party tourism much better: it comes
with a more festive-sounding air and the distinct promise
of champagne by the pool.
The notion is quite different from staying at, say, a B&B
or guesthouse because the rental is self-contained, with no
strangers in the hallway or over-eager hosts chatting at breakfast.
From the moment the front-door key is turned, you and your
party members are on your own.
Inherent in this trend has been a choice of luxe rentals:
in the main, the house-party gang could equally well afford
to stay at a good hotel, so this home has to be high-end,
with all the luxury trimmings.
At Coolum Beach, near fashionable Noosa on the Queensland
Sunshine Coast, a new property, The Angkasa, is a prime example
of house-party digs. Owned by Andre Cheah, who says this laid-back
region "reflects the same lifestyle" familiar to
his family growing up on the Malaysian coast, The Angkasa
has four commodious double bedrooms spread over three levels
of an ultra-modern home near the beach.
The pick is the Ocean Penthouse on the top storey, with a
contemporary four-poster, freestanding tub and a second wall-mounted
television in a skylight-roofed bathroom and a lounging area
big enough for a couch, desk and entertainment centre.
On the middle level, the Canopy and Tropical suites are also
ultra-spacious, the latter with a Balinese-style daybed on
a covered balcony. The rainforest suite, on the lower ground
level, may seem tucked away but is equally well appointed,
also with a daybed-furnished balcony, and a hand-carved teak
bed and lounge area sufficiently large for a pre-booked therapist
to set up a massage table. All bathrooms are of five-star
hotel standard and come with rain showers and Lanvin toiletries.
In many ways, The Angkasa -- which Cheah explains means "the
heavens" in Bahasa Malaysian -- feels like a boutique
hotel, albeit without a button to press for room service and
bowing butlers on call. The feel is urban Asian, with well-chosen
pieces of lacquerware and statuary, oriental lamps, lacquered
cabinets and armoires that hold TV sets and DVD players, Vietnamese
celadon tea sets and serving bowls.
The decor is beige, bone and cream; walls are mostly white,
with a few featured in a soothing deep grey, and the communal
areas, bathrooms and decks are tiled in sand-coloured travertine
marble. The kitchen is so smooth and sleek, we half expect
to find Nigella and a camera crew lurking behind the double-door
stainless-steel fridge. The Angkasa look is straight from
an interiors magazine, complete with 21st-century design conceits
such as floating "walls" draped in white sheers.
The beds are sink-into comfy; there are light silk spreads
in metallic colours and the Egyptian cotton sheets have such
a high thread count they make most hotel equivalents seem
So Angkasa is very groovy indeed, but there are a few setbacks
that would affect travellers with children. The pool, for
example, is so small it defies the term. Perhaps it has been
purely designed for shoulder-to-shoulder spa dipping (there
are jets and a lovely waterfall) but, if so, why? There is
a ton of space on the terrace for a proper pool; only two
sun loungers are provided, but the house sleeps eight. Another
drawback for communal entertainment is that there is no TV
in the public areas -- although, oddly, there is a connection
and space for one in the lounge area adjoining the kitchen
-- and no guest toilet, so it's a matter of going back to
one's bedroom (which could mean several sets of stairs if,
say, caught short between the top-floor kitchen and the Rainforest
Suite). But these are minor quibbles given the overall style
and standard, and the house is proving a popular venue for
wedding parties and small functions and mini-conferences.
Sandra Kachad, who acts as Angkasa's meet-and-greet person,
is a local feng-shui expert who shares Cheah's vision of a
harmonious abode with all the right flow-through energies.
The more time I spend studying the house's angles, I start
to really appreciate the clever plays of light, the filtered
sunshine, the windows specifically angled towards a gully
of native rainforest where green butterflies flit and kookaburras
cackle at unearthly hours. There's an intense restfulness
in being cocooned here in a quiet side street opposite Point
Arkwright with glimpses to the east of blue ocean and gleaming
We shop for groceries at Coolum village, cook up a storm,
grab BYO supplies of chilled rose wine and venture to our
favourite Sunshine Coast cheapie, Franco's pasta and pizza
joint in the Town of Seaside enclave at Marcoola. We walk
on the beach at sunrise, buy the papers to take back to Angkasa,
read the news we'd prefer to forget about with our feet in
that too-petite feng-shui pool. But we are in such a good
mood we decide Cheah really only needed it to be big enough
for the Chinese imperial dragons to pass through and pause
for an invigorating sip.
Susan Kurosawa was a guest of Angkasa.
Virgin Blue flies from a wide range of Australian ports to
Sunshine Coast (Coolum) airport. Book online for best deals
and check Happy Hour specials between noon and 1pm (Eastern
standard time) daily. More: www.virginblue.com.au
Angkasa can book an in-house massage (request therapist Janelle
for a fabulous treatment) and arrange a welcome hamper of
groceries, which is a good idea as the kitchen has few provisions.
There's a minimum three-night stay from $3000 (or in house
party style, for eight, that's less than $140 a head a night).
More: (02) 95524529; www.theangkasa.com.au