For those of us who live – for the most part happily – in Australia's south, the climate of a place like Noosa is just the cure when emerging from winter. Queensland's Sunshine Coast is busy and popular and ever-growing, but it's the kind of place where you can easily find or avoid the crowds the better you get to know it. Mantra French Quarter is right on Noosa Heads' humming Hastings Street.
The apartment blocks of Mantra French Quarter have a large, landscaped pool and garden area at their centre. A recent $500,000 makeover has improved its heated lagoon pool, children's wading pool and two heated spas and added poolside decks, lounges, umbrellas and poolside seating. Add to this shaded picnic areas and subtle lighting for after-dark bathing and the combination of water and gardens gives a smart sense of space to this large apartment complex. Mantra claims it as one of the biggest pool areas in Noosa and it would want to be; it's exceptionally well-used and it can be a struggle to snag a sun lounge at peak periods. There's plenty of parking underneath if you're driving.
We have a breezy two-bedroom/two-bathroom deluxe apartment that, like most, faces the pool area. It has basic cooking appliances along with dishwasher and a neat little laundry. The main bedroom cleverly closes off with wooden screens or opens on to the living area and looks out over the balcony to the palms around the pool. There's a kitchen bench with some stools, but the balcony has the dining table and it's the perfect place for some al-fresco dining or a drink and a snack or a relaxing read. There's a large flat-screen TV in the lounge area and smaller ones in each of the bedrooms. All have cable channels, including movies.
Nothing on site, but Betty's Burgers is out the door to the left if you don't mind the queue and just downstairs and to the right is Locale, with sublime Italian food but very erratic service. We tried Sails on the beach early one night and by fortune found ourselves at the best table for a couple of hours: a pinot gris and rock oysters in their prime go pretty well with a setting sun and the surf flopping casually on to the sand a few metres away. Out the back and a little way up the hill is Halse Lodge, a Noosa original – be aware that it's a backpackers' den, but enjoy the cheap eats, cheap drinks and leafy terrace. To stock the apartment, forget Hastings Street; hop on a bus or drive yourself to Noosa Junction.
Depending on the length of your stride, it only takes around a hundred of them to get to the beach from the front door. You're also at the national park end of Hastings Street, so the trails into that beautiful park are within easy reach. It's popular, and for its first few kilometres, the main trail is perfect for people with strollers or the less-able. You're just as likely to hear a United Nations of languages along the way as you are some local surfers dissecting the merits of this break or that according to the ways of the weather. The further you go along the trails, the less crowded they are. We were there in spring and saw plenty of dolphins and a couple of whales spouting in the distance.
Excellent service when you need it and a great location give the marks to Mantra. If the pool area is suffering from its popularity, the beach is but a stroll away.
Mantra French Quarter Noosa has a Stay & Save deal in a one-bedroom apartment for three nights or more at $189 a night until March 31, 2017. For more information and conditions, phone 13 15 17 or see mantra.com.au
Jim Darby was a guest of Mantra.
Having the (relatively warm) surf less than two minutes from the apartment door.
Broken washing machine on arrival; shown a work-around but not fixed for a few days.