I’m pretty sure I’ll never reach the bottom of the pot when it comes to epic travel experiences. Even if I somehow manage the impossible task of visiting every location on the planet, there’s always a way to make each destination seem new again simply by changing the way I travel.
I’ve experienced Stanthorpe, the beating heart of Granite Belt wine country, a couple of times now; but never like my recent trip. This time around, I ditched the idea of a rustic budget motel and decided to pop my glamping cherry. A blissful union between creature comforts and raw nature, this trendy style of travel captured my curiosity a while ago. I decided it was about time I figured out what all the fuss was about.
While surfing through a catalogue of enchanting stays on Glamping Hub, I stumbled across a tented villa which can only be described as glamping on steroids. Known as Alure, I later discovered it was considered the most luxurious glamping experience on earth. Indeed, it delivered the dream escape I’d been hoping for and certainly made me see Stanthorpe in a whole new light. Here’s the lowdown on my stay at Alure Stanthorpe, the perfect place to taste glamping for the very first time.
Who’d love it?
Couples, couples, couples! Alure’s tented villa was pitched purely for romance and relaxation. It presents the ultimate getaway for lovebirds looking to reconnect or celebrate a special occasion (like my husband’s birthday!). With a maximum of only three couples staying on the property at any one time, guests are guaranteed to enjoy the serenity and seclusion they’ve been craving. In light of its proximity to major hubs (the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Sydney), Alure is a great way to escape the relentless chaos of big city living and modern, daily life. Ensconced in Queensland’s most acclaimed wine region, Alure is also an ideal hideaway for those who love their vino, especially when it comes served with a side of local fare and breathtaking scenery.
What was the tent like?
It was huge – a canvas palace filled with all of the fundamental features and extravagant trimmings a lady (and man) of luxury could possibly hope for. To support privacy and convenience, the self-contained tent was kitted out with a well-stocked kitchen, state-of-the-art cooking appliances and a BBQ fit for an army (no need to bring a billy can!). In true glamping style, the usual outdoor dunny and spider-infested shower had been replaced by a stylish ensuite complete with heated, fluffy towels, cotton-ball-soft bathrobes, lush L’Occitane products and a GHD hair straightener. But wait, there’s more.
At the end of each day, my toughest decision was literally whether to relax beside a crackling fireplace or in a heated outdoor spa. I decided to take full advantage of the situation and indulge in both – glass of local wine in hand, of course. Once it was time to call it a night, my husband and I cocooned our bodies in the sea of plush blankets atop a colossal four-poster bed. Despite the mild nights, we were as warm and cosy as can be in our canvas palace.
How was the food?
The emphasis at Alure is on self-catering, or sampling the local fare at one of the many cafés, pubs, restaurants and vineyards that lace the area. Having said that, Alure also acts as a BnB and its breakfast hampers are blissfully decadent: buttery croissants that melt in the mouth; fresh, home-baked bread that comforts the soul; gourmet muesli to tickle the tastebuds…and that’s just the beginning. Alure also makes the effort to champion local producers, with Granite Belt wines and juices on tap. Ultimately, everything (including the food) comes back to pampering – Stanthorpe style.
How was the service?
This country haven is owned and managed by a mother-daughter team, who’ve injected a lot of love and fine detail into the Alure experience. My husband and I met Marion (the daughter) at reception upon arrival, and she became our friend and queen of hospitality from that point on. Like most Aussie country folk, she was a bubbly chatterbox with a heart of gold. It’s refreshing to have a stranger take genuine interest in your life and offer parts of their own world up in conversation. Man it’s good to get out of the city!
The service at Alure was intimate, adaptable and personalised to suit the needs of each individual guest. In Marion’s words, she could be as invisible or available as we needed her to be. With her home based on the Alure property, it always felt like help was just a stone’s throw away. Marion was also a brilliant library of local information. Once she heard we were hunting for off-the-beaten track, adventurous experiences, it wasn’t long before a comprehensive menu of ideas arrived in our inbox. Marion helped us do Stanthorpe our way and get the most out of our stay.
What were the highlights of your stay?
The location and whole glamping vibe. Alure sits quietly on a little hill, nestled amongst 50 acres of private bushland, ensuring privacy, tranquillity and complete immersion in nature. While the property is only a ten-minute drive from Stanthorpe’s high street, it feels like you’re completely secluded (or, “In the middle of woop woop,” as we say in Australia).
Each morning, I wandered around the grounds to check out the local flora (the crimson bottlebrushes were a favourite), and soak up the invigorating smell of live Eucalyptus. Every now and then, a leaping kangaroo or cosy koala would cross my line of vision.
As each day came to a close, my husband and I took to our private deck and watched the sunset in all of its blazing glory. By night, we chilled out in the spa and pondered the magic of the Milky Way. Once we finally hit the hay, the sound of the tent’s canvas being kissed by the wind was enough to put us to sleep. We felt like a couple of honeymooners on an Aussie safari.
What was unique about the experience?
The whole glamping concept is still pretty mad-brilliant in my book. At Alure, it’s truly next level thanks to original design of its tented villa at every level. Under the eclectic vision of Brisbane-based interior designer, John Glynn, the canvas creation has been peppered with rustic country undertones, romantic motifs and whole lot of luxury (including a chandelier). Despite its extravagance, the tent also happens to be super eco-friendly, so there’s no need to feel guilty about living in the lap of luxury.
I also fell in love with the property’s quirky family of domestic animals. Marion introduced me to her sheep, horse, dog, ram and lambs and explained why she’s Stanthorpe’s worst farmer. Indeed, all of her fluffy friends had names and were uncharacteristically fond of humans, especially the woolly lass known as Ewenice. Obviously, they were spoilt rotten. I liked Marion’s style.
What did you get up to in Stanthorpe?
As you can imagine, our tent was easy to enjoy and so hard to leave. But my husband and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to explore Stanthorpe while we had the chance. And, once we’d peeled ourselves away from the indulgence of our tented villa, we discovered there was a never-ending list of activities on offer.
Firstly, our stay coincided perfectly with the annual Apple & Grape Harvest Festival, which saw everyone within a 100km radius of Stanthorpe descend on the tiny town. In true country style, the event had a casual, fun-loving vibe and celebrated the region’s colourful characters, home-grown produce and grassroots music talent.
Once we’d had enough of the crowds, Ben and I chucked on our hiking boots and headed to Undercliffe Falls. Let’s just say, it turned out to be a little more off-the-beaten-track than expected…and also more magnificent. After we’d slid our way down a steep, muddy slope – butt first – and dusted off a couple of leeches, we finally made it to the base of the waterfall. It was a private piece of heaven, perfect for a couple of swimmers on a hot Aussie day.
While these were the two highlights of our stay in Stanthorpe, there’s a whole lot more where they came from. Cellar doors, fruit orchards, national parks, giant monoliths, foodie stops (the apple pie at Sutton’s is a must-try!), famers’ markets, antique shops, galleries, museums – it’d take a good month to get through it all!