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LUXURY RESORTS: Maison Noosa, Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia

I'm feeling a little bit like a rock star - propped up on a bar stool with a chilled drink, watching through panoramic windows (I'll admit a little smugly) the passersby who are stealing not-so subtle glances in my direction.

I think I know what they're thinking. I've experienced similar pangs of resort envy during previous holidays to Noosa Heads.

maison noosa view
maison noosa view
noosa national park headland
noosa main beach
maison noosa
noosa learn to surf
living room

The noise of my two children splashing happily in the resort pool brings me back to reality. Life-guard duty calls, but this is hardly a blip on my rock star radar. Only 30 minutes before the three of us were enjoying a private surfing lesson from two times Australian Champion (and World Pro Am champ) Merrick Davis.

When he's not catching a wave with his local mates - including former world No 1 tennis player Pat Rafter - he's showing tourists the ropes in the gentle surf along Main Beach. With conditions akin to Hawaii's famed Waikiki, it's the ideal spot for novices of all ages to discover if they're a natural or a goofy footer.

With his personal 1, 2 and 3 method he guarantees you'll stand in the first lesson. We're quick to get it but we're all outdone by my four-year-old grommet who stands on her first attempt.  Either Merrick's a true genius or hours of watching Malibu babe Barbie is paying off!  

But I digress. What makes boutique resort Maison Noosa my new favourite place to hang ten?  It's location for me is a big winner.   From our luxury three bedroom poolside apartment we're an enviable few steps to the much sought-after sands which curve around picturesque Laguna Bay to the wooded cliffs that hem the Noosa National Park and its well trodden scenic walking tracks.

 Guests arrive - by chauffeur if you wish - via Hastings Street.   For the uninitiated - Hastings is akin to a resort-style 5th Avenue - featuring boutique and international designer fashion/swimwear, home wares, luxury resorts and hotels, eateries and a smattering of ubiquitous souvenir retailers. Ice cream lovers can indulge their sweet tooth at popular chains Baskin Robbins, Royal Copenhagen, or the boutique Massimos ( for traditional gelato with a twist of funky flavours like lychee). The novel new kid on the block is Nitrogenie which whips up frozen flavours like salty caramelly popcorn and lemon meringue with liquid nitrogen a la Heston Blumenthal.

On summer weekends and during the holiday season, this popular beach haven can get pretty crowded, but Maison Noosa's other big plus against its five-star rivals is that it's situated at the quieter northern end of the tree-lined street. The resort's secure underground parking saves you hours doing the 'merry-go-round' looking for a park if you choose to use a car to explore further. Top tips are Eumundi markets (20 kms away) or a hike to top of Mt Tinbeerwah for the best views of the aptly named Sunshine Coast. I left the car where it was to walk across to Noosa Lions Park - the gateway to the picturesque Noosa River - to try the next best boarding craze - Stand Up Paddling. My svelte guide Donalee is testament to the benefits of this popular vertical workout. Once I find my balance I really start to enjoy the scenery and even manage a friendly wave to passengers doing it a lot easier on the ferry.

Many of Noosa's top beachfront hotels/resorts have only one or two bedrooms but Maison Noosa's 24 self contained apartments offer a wider choice of one-, two-, or three bedrooms (so you can bring the grandparents). They are generous on space and have assorted outlooks over three levels - the best face north over the pool and beach. All are individually-owned, serviced and furnished to a very high standard (including flat screen TVs and internet connection and modern appliances) to complement the waterside location. Ours is the pick of the party pads - room 101 on ground level - with its long open kitchen bar facing the promenade, small grove and beach.

General facilities include a covered barbecue area, pool and spa, separate guest laundry and a small, but well equipped gym. The well attended reception can arrange all your needs from limousine and airport transfers, tours, spa treatments to a round of golf.  

Eating is another popular pastime in Noosa as many a celebrity chef has earned his stripes here.   Jim Berardo, owner of the award-winning fine dining (and uniquely all-white) restaurant Berardo's and casual beachfront bistro of the same name, is also the founder of the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival. Held each May the festival attracts special guest chefs from around the world to participate in a long weekend of cooking demonstrations and wine and food tastings. If you love your food, this is a good time to visit.

On our weekend we focus on the family dining experience. Waking up to the sounds of rolling surf is a treat; so is breakfast at the Surf Club Restaurant at the other end of the bay. Choices range from a simple bowl of muesli or tea and toast to an Aussie twist on the traditional Eggs Benedict and the more power-packed feast of eggs, bacon, tomato, sausage, mushroom, baked beans, hash browns and buttered toast (no doubt the choice of all the budding ironmen entered in the weekend's Anaconda Adventure Race). There are smaller options for the nippers as well as fresh juices and coffees but get up with the sparrows if you want a table directly overlooking the sands. Bistro C is another personal favourite - a little more expensive and 'gourmet' but just as well positioned along the same boardwalk and families are welcome.

For dinner it's suggested we stroll to the iconic Cafe Le Monde. I'm slightly hesitant having had an ordinary experience here once before. Fortunately, the seasonal menu, along with the tired decor has recently received a much needed revamp and we thoroughly enjoyed our main meals (with its Asia Pacific influence) as well as the more colourful and contemporary alfresco atmosphere. The kids are kept occupied colouring in their menus which also offers them a wide variety of choices, from fish fingers or chicken nuggets with chips to baby potatoes and steamed greens, Wagyu cheeseburgers, steak and pizza.

One more reason we'll be going back.

Check in: Maison Noosa, 5 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
Ultimate Luxury:  For just the two of you the one-bedroom ocean view apartment has its own exclusive roof deck overlooking Laguna Bay, Double Island Point and Noosa National Park.
Most Indulgent Moment: A Massimo ice cream!
Insider Secrets: Guests are handy to beach access point 14 where Merrick runs his surf school. The Noosa Food and Wine festival will be held from May 16-19 in 2013.
The Little Things: Easy access to main beach and Hastings Street. The pool is also heated in winter.
Junior Luxies:  The spacious apartments are family-friendly. Children can enjoy the pool and spa under parent supervision and the beach is within easy reach. Maison Noosa provides a range of beach and pool toys for guests - accessed from the covered parking area.
Dent in the platinum: P rices range low to high season from $320-$540 per night for a one bedroom; from $495-$765 for three bedrooms. Varying min night stays apply.
Luxury Resorts Links: www.maisonnoosa.com.au/ , www.noosafoodandwine.com.au/ ; www.noosastanduppaddle.com.au/ ; www.learntosurf.com.au/
Debbie Neilson-Hunter 8/2/13
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