FAMILY holidays are great to bond the whole clan and enjoy memory card-filling adventures away from home.
But there's something beautifully precious and very special when a mother and daughter enjoy a getaway together as my wife and youngest child discovered recently.
I'd taken my son, now an adult, to Uluru when he was 13 on a father-son adventure and can vouch for the carefree, one-on-one chemistry these trips engender - free from sibling rivalry, feelings of being just one of many and the usual family chaos that can unfold when the whole tribe escapes together.
It's just you and your child and the rich, like-minded experiences you share work to strengthen your relationship with each during and after the holiday.
With all this in mind, my wife, Moira, and 12-year-old daughter Jaspar recently embarked on a quick, two-night escapade to Auckland in New Zealand where the two of them lived it up in five-star luxury, creating magical memories they will always cherish.
Cheap airfares prompted the choice location, with Auckland - less than three hours away - feeling more like a domestic destination these days.
But it's still exciting for a child to travel overseas, passport in hand. With much anticipation the duo flew across the Tasman and in no time (with the help of a hotel limousine from the airport) were holed up in indulgent luxury at the 5-star Langham Hotel in Auckland. And in no time, a mother and daughter became playful, whimsical princesses, checking out everything that opened and closed in their suite, pressing all the buttons on their two flat screen TVs, exploring the luxurious toiletries in the marble bathroom and exploring the prestigious hotel like two little kids lost in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
The girls were in "heaven" - an apt word because the historic Langham hotel brand, which embraces 17 deluxe hotels around the world (including one in Melbourne and one soon to open in Sydney) promises guests a "refined, elegant and tranquil haven free from the pressures of the world outside". Indeed, the only stress my wife and daughter said they endured was what to order from the room service menu.
And when the hearty soup, cheeseburgers, "delicious, chunky, crunchy" chips and cheesecake turned up on a trolley under silver cloches, where else would an excited mother and daughter feast on the enticing spread than on the bed, with a dose of local NZ TV to accompany the meal?
The 411-room Langham Auckland has a chandeliered lobby, sumptuous, classic furnishings, a pool and jacuzzi, four inviting restaurants and bars and a live-it-up spa sanctuary inspired by Oriental traditions for physical and spiritual wellness.
Moira and Jaspar stayed in a Club Suite which gave them access to the Langham Club - a hotel within a hotel where they could enjoy complimentary breakfast, drinks and canapés before dinner and refreshments and homemade treats all day as well as free in-room Wi-Fi and free butler service for the duration of their stay.
This other-world extravagance made it very tempting not to leave the Langham's ebullient embrace at all but why travel to Auckland and not see any local sights, so the princesses headed for the one destination all mothers and daughters head to when they go travelling together, unencumbered by males in the family - the shops.
Using Auckland's hop-on, hop-off, double-decker Explorer bus, the pair checked out the hip new Britomart precinct with its designer stores, enjoyed the panorama over the City of Sails from the top of the 328m-tall Sky Tower - the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, enjoyed a coffee and hot chocolate together in a waterside cafe at Viaduct Harbour and took a wild and wet spin around Auckland's harbour with Auckland Jet Boat Tours - perfect for a mother and daughter keen to see the city very quickly before returning to the rarefied refines of the Langham and its fluffy bathrobes.
All too soon, it was time to return to reality and when I picked them up from the airport, my girls looked relaxed, pampered and closer than ever, sharing with me the joys they had shared on their special sojourn.
ACROSS THE DITCH
The Langham Auckland - Visit langhamhotels.co.nz.
For information on Auckland, visit aucklandnz.com.
Until September 18, 2012, Air New Zealand will offer twice-weekly flights from Sunshine Coast Airport to Auckland. Virgin, Qantas, Air New Zealand and Emirates also offer regular direct flights to Auckland from Brisbane.
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