Australian families can't get enough of Queensland, writes Kristie Lau.
Queensland overwhelmingly remains the No1 Australian destination to holiday with children, a survey by Holidays With Kids magazine shows. Delivering similar results to last year, the annual survey of readers found families are still loving Queensland's vast supply of sun, sand and surf. The magazine's editor, Cathy Wagstaff, says the survey, published in the winter edition out next week, focused this year on the best of the star-rated accommodation.
"We have highlighted star ratings to give more of an indication of the quality of the property," she says. "All properties have been voted by families that have enjoyed their experiences at these resorts."
The results were split into two categories: resorts rated four stars and higher and resorts rated less than four stars.
Four stars and higher
1. SANDS TURTLE BEACH RESORT, GOLD COAST
In first place is this 4½-star resort about two kilometres from Broadbeach. It has
one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments overlooking a 4½-hectare tropical garden. The resort has two heated swimming pools designed for kids and four lap pools for adults. There's an 18-hole putt-putt course, two gaming rooms, two tennis courts, a cinema that screens three films daily, wireless internet and a playground. The resort is within walking distance of swimming spots along the popular Mermaid Beach. See turtlebeachresort.com.au.
2. NOVOTEL TWIN WATERS RESORT, SUNSHINE COAST
Located seven kilometres from Sunshine Coast Airport, Novotel Twin Waters won votes for its action-packed Kids' Club, for ages two to 12 . Qualified childcare professionals offer activities in the resort's outdoor play centre as well as face painting, craft and cooking lessons, board games, tennis, themed movie nights and discos. Complimentary beach activities are also available at the four-star resort, including canoeing and windsurfing. Parents can get their holiday fix through the on-site day spa and an 18-hole golf course. See twinwatersresort.com.au.
3. SEA WORLD RESORT, GOLD COAST
It's no surprise that one of Queensland's hottest kids' attractions offers top accommodation for the whole family. Located on the Broadwater, the four-star Sea World Resort has 405 rooms, all featuring private balconies. Kids are kept busy either at the theme park (which you can access via monorail from the resort) or through the resort's Kids' Club for ages four to 12. It offers art workshops, a 24-hour gaming room and disco nights. There's also a 50-metre heated pool, featuring its own waterfall. A shaded playground and golf driving nets can also be found on-site. See seaworldresort.myfun.com.au.
4. VOYAGES DUNK ISLAND, DUNK ISLAND
Child-friendly activities rule this tropical rainforest island resort. Situated off the Queensland coast, just south of Cairns, it features a Kids' Club for ages three to 12. Treasure hunts, nature arts and crafts, rainforest discovery walks, turtle spotting, visits to the island's farm, discos, stargazing and movies are on the daily agenda. Dinner is also provided. All rooms feature either a balcony or patio and you can choose from a beachfront or garden outlook. A children's playground, a day spa and top snorkelling spots are located within the four-star resort. See dunk-island.com.
5. HYATT REGENCY COOLUM, SUNSHINE COAST
Water babies, look no further. Located at the base of Mount Coolum, this four-star resort has a private beach and nine swimming pools. Activities at Camp Hyatt, the kids' club, include kite-flying, storytelling, arts and crafts, archery, canoeing and themed parties. Cleverly, children are split into age groups to ensure the day-long activities suit everyone. There's also a day spa and golf course on site. See coolum.regency.hyatt.com.
Less than four stars
1. PARADISE RESORT, GOLD COAST
This resort came in at No.1 in last year's Top 10 resorts survey and its facilities have earned it a top nod again this year. The kids' club, Zone 4 Kids, caters for children of all ages and offers an adventure playground, story-telling and a range of indoor games. For adults, the three-star resort offers four pools, a spa, several dining outlets and a bar. It's located within walking distance from the shops and entertainment of Surfers Paradise. See paradiseresort.com.au.
2. CLUB MED, LINDEMAN ISLAND
This Club Med is all about the kids. Under-fours are supervised during outdoor play and nap times, while the older kids are invited to join dance lessons, artistic workshops, group sporting challenges and roller-skating among loads of other activities. For adults, there is a Wellness Centre in the 3½-star resort, which features three treatment rooms and a stack of pamper packs. There is also a range of leisure activities for families who like to keep to themselves while they holiday. See clubmed.com.au.
3. TANGALOOMA ISLAND RESORT, MORETON ISLAND
Specialising in adventure activities, Tangalooma offers entertainment for all ages. Bottlenose dolphins swim right up to this resort and guests are invited to get close enough to feed them. The three-star resort offers sand tobogganing, quad-bike tours, whale-watching cruises between June and October, dugong-watching cruises, jet-ski tours, four-wheel-drive tours, parasailing, snorkelling and helicopter scenic flights. There's also a beachfront restaurant, a massage hut, a photo processing shop and an education centre. See www.tangalooma.com.
4. ISLANDER NOOSA RESORT, NOOSAVILLE, SUNSHINE COAST
An oversized lagoon-style swimming pool is the star attraction at this 3½-star resort. There are seven restaurants to choose from, a hairdresser and beautician, barbecue areas, two tennis courts, two saunas, three heated spas and a games room. See islandernoosa.com.au.
5. CLUB CROCODILE AIRLIE BEACH, WHITSUNDAYS
This three-star resort provides baby-sitting services, a games room and a playground for kids. There are several pools, tennis courts, a spa and a skate park. All rooms feature either a balcony or veranda and air-conditioning. The resort offers day trips to the Great Barrier Reef, including a reef pontoon with a waterslide. See clubcroc.com.au.
TOP 10, SOUTH PACIFIC
1. Shangri-La's Fijian Resort & Spa, Fiji.
2. The Naviti Resort, Fiji.
3. Le Lagon Resort Vanuatu, Vanuatu.
4. Plantation Island Resort, Fiji.
5. Castaway Island, Fiji.
6. Le Meridien Port Vila Resort & Casino, Vanuatu.
7. Treasure Island Resort, Fiji.
8. Aggie Grey's Lagoon, Beach Resort & Spa, Samoa.
9. Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island,Fiji.
10. Warwick Fiji Resort & Spa, Fiji.
TOP 10, ASIA
1. Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort, Sabah, Malaysia.
2. Club Med Bali, Nusa Dua, Bali.
3. Bali Dynasty Resort, Kuta, Bali.
4. JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, Phuket, Thailand.
5. Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Sabah, Malaysia.
6. Laguna Beach Resort, Phuket, Thailand.
7. Serene Villas, Seminyak, Bali.
8. Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali.
9. Disney's Hollywood Hotel, Hong Kong.
10. Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort, Phuket, Thailand.