I’ve just returned from a Christmas holiday where a few days before Christmas we drove north to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, a journey that took 13 hours, to a holiday house in Mount Coolum.
The idea was to spend Christmas with Drew’s family; something we hadn’t done for at least a decade. The idea of travelling to Queensland for Christmas first emerged about six months ago. I jumped online searching for a holiday home that would not only be available but also suitable. I wanted it to be within walking distance of the beach, have a holiday feel, include a swimming pool and have a dining room table big enough to seat 12 as well as enough plates, glassware and cutlery for that many guests.
By the middle of November I’d all but given up. It seemed I’d wasted hours on websites where you put in the dates you’re looking for and it comes up with around 20 properties. You then one by one send off enquiries and then they get back to you saying ‘the accommodation you requested is not available for the dates you’ve selected’. You can waste days on this kind of a hopeless system.
While Drew was overseas in Vegas, I decided to give the idea of going to Queensland one more shot. I googled ‘beautiful holiday homes on the Sunshine Coast’ and up popped a property linked to a website I hadn’t heard of before. It was Prestige Holiday Homes run by a woman named Vicky who I discovered, had excellent reviews for her helpful attitude and attention to detail.
She had a house available for one week over Christmas called, The Dunes. And it looked absolutely perfect. It was positioned almost on the sand dunes of Mount Coolum beach, it had five bedrooms, a 15-metre swimming pool, it was very open plan with expansive bi-fold doors opening onto the entertaining deck, there was a large kitchen for preparing a Christmas feast, a very adequate fridge and freezer and even a wine fridge. And…it was ‘pet friendly’.
I couldn’t type my application quickly enough. Having had months of not being able to find any property even vaguely suitable, The Dunes seemed too good to be true. The story is that the property is one of the most popular holiday homes on Vicky’s books. Twelve months ago it was booked for the entire December/January period. However, on that November morning when I decided to have one last attempt at finding accommodation in that most heavily booked week of the year, a family who had booked The Dunes almost 11 months earlier, had a change of circumstances and had to cancel.
Vicky had just re-listed the property when I happened to google-search, one last time. Within an hour there were three applications but I was first on the scene. Yeah! I got hold of Drew in Vegas and told him Christmas was sorted.
A good thing about the Sunshine Coast is that you have easy access to good quality produce. The farms are so close to the coast that local produce that’s often free-range and organic is readily available. From Sydney I ordered a free-range organic turkey from Green Ag Farms that was delivered to the holiday house on December 23 and I pre-ordered a free-range ham that we picked up from Yandina Butchery on Christmas Eve.
We drove up on December 20. I have to tell you, it’s a bloody long drive. After four hours sleep, I got up at 2.30am and by 4am Drew, Rosie and I were on the road. By the time dawn had broken we were well out of Sydney and progressing well towards Queensland.
Vicky had asked us to let her know when we would be arriving so she could meet us at the property to show us how everything worked including things like wi-fi, netflix, the coffee machine, keys, water features and garbage disposal. When we were half an hour away I phoned Vicky and she told me she had just been to the house to put a complimentary bottle of French champagne in the fridge. And along with the Christmas card left on the kitchen bench it was a very welcome personal touch.
As soon as we drove into the double lock-up garage with internal access straight into the house, I knew I’d found a very special home. Owned by a pilot in Brisbane, it is a property that’s permanently set up for holiday-makers. It’s been architecturally designed and even though I’d seen images of the property, it’s even better in real life.
It didn’t take us long at all to settle in and very soon we were reclining beside the solar-heated swimming pool, sipping on chilled champagne with Rosie beside us.
Now…this is not an inexpensive house to book however, having stayed in a number of places on the Sunshine Coast, this is by far the best in terms of functional design, indoor/outdoor living, comfortable furniture and luxury inclusions. It’s also pristine in its cleanliness and bug free. While the odd fly buzzed around, there weren’t any of those dreadful midgies (biting sandflies) the Sunshine Coast is well known for, nor even a mosquito.
Another bonus that makes the home more affordable is that it can easily accommodate two families. There’s a master suite with a king-sized bed together with a bedroom with a queen bed on the upper level, along with two additional bedrooms with twin single beds. Downstairs there’s a fifth bedroom with a queen bed with access to a powder room and a combined laundry/bathroom. With an additional media room to park the kids together with the swimming pool and easy access to the patrolled beach, there’s plenty of room for everyone.
Well…the property is on bottled gas. There are two gas cylinders down the side of the house. There is an enormous sign above the tanks asking you, when one tank runs out and you switch over to the spare tank, to immediately contact Vicky to let her know. Well some guest didn’t make that call and so on Boxing Day, when we ran out of gas and had to switch the tanks over, both were empty. I phoned Vicky who said, ‘Leave it with me’. But me of little faith, went ahead and had a cold shower – quite invigorating actually. But within half an hour and on a public holiday, a fresh tank of gas was delivered.
Verdict: Exceeds expectations.