Desperate for a sun lounge and a spa? Jane Reddy has the quick fix.
School's back, work's back, the holiday is over. And so is the mental space to daydream, let alone plan a break. For a quick escape, here are six hotels that are destinations in themselves, all less than seven hours from Sydney. Barring flight and traffic delays, you can be unpacked and ensconced by the pool, or the fireplace, before the day is done.
The W Retreat and Spa, Seminyak, Bali
Best for: A chic beach break.
Star feature: Food and drink for all tastes, from Asian to pizza.
Good to know: An all-hours spa includes wet and dry treatment areas, a facial room, uplit massage beds, hair salon and an oxygen enriched room.
A glamorous resort that fronts the beach, the colours of the surrounding jungle and rice paddies are reflected in the 237 retreat rooms and villas of up to three bedrooms. All have terrazzo and floorboards underfoot, 350-thread-count linen and goose-down duvets.
Beside the winding pool there are lounge chairs, double day beds and hand or foot massages on request. A lounge serves live DJ mixes and more than 50 martinis. There's also a private dining room for six or the more social beachside restaurant. Head to the two reflective ponds for a frozen cocktail or a moment of introspection. A Wonderful Garden Room costs from $300 a night, twin share. starwoodhotels.com/whotels.
Matakauri Lodge, Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand
Best for: A mountain break.
Star feature: Views of the Remarkables mountain range.
Good to know: Matakauri is a sister property to The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs and The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, both on the North Island.
Respite from the heady adventures of the region in the South Island - skiing, snowboarding and bungy jumping - is at hand on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It's 20 minutes from Queenstown Airport and only seven minutes from downtown. Suites have a relaxation area with fireplace, twin vanities, walk-in wardrobe and an XL bath tub. Outside the suite is a heated infinity pool, sauna and jacuzzi.
The spa has two treatment rooms that open to a private deck. Rooms cost from $NZ684 ($555) a person a night; suites $NZ874. All meals, mini-bar and domestic beers are included. matakauri.co.nz.
Dolphin Island, Fiji
Best for: A private escape.
Star feature: A "sleepover" on a hilltop bure with open-air bedroom.
Good to know: It's exclusive-use, with a maximum of eight guests.
Located off the tip of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, it's a 2½-hour car ride from Nadi International Airport then 20 minutes by boat to the private island. Four guest bures have shell and coral mirrors, stone tiles, a free-standing bath and indoor and outdoor showers.
It's your hideaway, your rules. Eat when and wherever you want; next to the infinity pool or on a lanterned floating pontoon. Papaya facials and massage are on the treatment menu or take a catamaran or sea kayak out for a paddle. One bure costs from about $NZ9000 a night, twin share. All meals and a standard bar are included. thehukaretreats.com.
Otahuna Lodge, Tai Tapu, Christchurch, New Zealand
Best for: A stately break.
Star feature: A five-course degustation menu of local produce with wine pairings.
Good to know: Children over 13 are welcome when the lodge is reserved for exclusive use.
At the start of a secluded valley on New Zealand's South Island and a 25-minute drive from Christchurch International Airport, owners Hall Cannon and Miles Refo will welcome you to the largest private historic residence in New Zealand.
Built in 1895 and once the residence of politician Sir Heaton Rhodes, seven suites with home-grown flowers and a bedside biscuit jar, replenished daily, contain original features. In a library of more than 1000 titles, settle into a leather chair next to the wood fireplace or stroll the 12 hectares with manicured lawns and a garden producing fruits, mushrooms, nuts and vegetables. Suites cost from $NZ1265 a night, twin share. A degustation dinner and breakfast is included. otahuna.co.nz.
Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, Natadola, Fiji
Best for: A family holiday.
Star feature: A family pool separate from an adult infinity pool.
Good to know: In club suites, a butler service, before arrival, to help plan activities during your stay.
Set on Natadola Beach on Viti Levu, the resort is about 45 minutes' drive from Nadi International Airport. Besides an 18-hole championship golf course, there are four swimming pools and four restaurants, including cabana dining with personal waiter on the beach. Don't be put off by the resort's 200-plus rooms. All look to verdant gardens or white-sand beaches; plunge pools feature in some of the 90 suites. There's a kids' club for ages four to 12 and nanny service for under fours. Garden view rooms cost from $F567 ($308) a night, twin share; two-bedroom club suites from $F1792 a night. intercontinental.com/fiji.
Ayana Resort and Spa, Jimbaran Bay, Bali
Best for: A pampering retreat.
Star feature: The Rock Bar, accessed by travelator down the side of a cliff for sunset cocktails.
Good to know: Non-guests are welcome at the Rock Bar but at the travelator queue, guests trump any waiting outsiders.
About 15 minutes from Denpasar International Airport and atop limestone cliffs above the Indian Ocean, Ayana's 290-room hotel also has 78 freestanding villas, each with a round-the-clock butler. The spa complex is as large as its treatment menu long, with steam and sauna rooms as well as an 18-hole golf course and tennis. Popular choices include the bamboo massage and the Aquatonic seawater therapy pool, a 12-station circuit of "fizzy" jet streams to work your way around.
For a secluded treatment, there are two spa villas below the cliff face that can be booked for a private five-course dinner. Rooms cost from $US302 ($290) a night and a one-bed ocean view villa from $US927. ayanaresort.com.