HOW many times have you hurtled down the M1 between Brisbane and the Gold Coast and not stopped off anywhere in between?
It's not as easy as the old days to get a Yatala pie.
Maybe you've had a look at the Carlton brewery and thought it would worth a look on the way back, but then can't be bothered because you're on your way home.
And then there's Sanctuary Cove, the part-resort, part-residential area which has been in existence for more than 20 years and may have disappeared off some people's radars simply because there are newer, taller places to stay further down the coast. But that would be a mistake.
Until a few weeks ago, I hadn't been to Sanctuary Cove for about a decade and even then it had only been for a game of golf at the Arnold Palmer-designed Pines course followed by a look at the various shops and many restaurants in the village.
The course is still there, and remains one of the most testing in Queensland. But an impressive new $13 million golf and country club has been recently added, while the shops and eating establishments are still busy, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, with a mix of tourists, locals and other Coast residents enjoying the relaxing surrounds, free of any noisy traffic.
And nearby is the Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove: a five-star resort hotel styled as a traditional 1940s Queensland homestead, which makes it unlike any other accommodation house on the Gold Coast.
If you've been to the Hyatt at Coolum, the one at Sanctuary Cove will be familiar.
The buildings, housing 247 rooms and suites, are just a few storeys high and spread out among hectares of gardens, meaning that even at its busiest times, guests have no feeling of overcrowding.
The usual five-star facilities are there – pools (the main one is a saltwater lagoon-style pool), tennis courts, fine dining restaurants, bars and a spa – but there's also access to the Sanctuary Cove Rec Club and its gymnasium, sauna, fitness classes and bowls greens, as well as Camp Hyatt which caters for children aged between four and 12.
But what stands out most about the Hyatt at Sanctuary Cove is the great service.
From check-in onwards, you will find it hard to find fault with the staff. Reception staff are friendly and open, and more than happy to assist with any inquiry.
If you have taken advantage of the Regency Club Lounge benefits the hotel offers, you may discover one of the Hyatt's most engaging ambassadors.
“Danny” will see to your every canapé and champagne (or beer) need in the exclusive club lounge, meeting you for drinks around five in the afternoon.
Sanctuary Cove restaurants and boutiques are a five-minute riverside stroll away. Here you will find some great little eateries and shops in which to browse for hours.
Make a booking at That Italian Restaurant, otherwise you may be disappointed as it's almost packed every evening.
If you have the time after an afternoon of strolling past boutiques and cafes that line the Coomera River, book in for one of the Hyatt's amazing massages.
With a reception area in the main building, the therapist will escort you to a therapy room screened by the beautiful native gardens, away from any noise.
If you choose to stay on site for dinner, make sure you visit The Fireplace.
This is a truly memorable restaurant experience with the bustling chefs preparing your meal in front of the wood-fire oven which dominates the dining room.
The house speciality is Wagyu rib fillet steak and you'll enjoy every melt-in-your-mouth mouthful.
Golfers should be aware that only one of the two courses is open, which means the one where you can get a game, The Pines, is busy most days.
The Palms, the original course, is undergoing a redesign, which will keep it out of play until about April.
Good to know
Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove has just released a Best Five Days of Summer package.
Stay five nights or more between December 24 and January 11 from $355 per night and enjoy accommodation, full buffet breakfast daily and two adult VIP passes (valued at $99 each) offering unlimited entry to Warner Bros' Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild until June 30.
To book, phone 13 12 34 or visit sanctuarycove.regency.hyatt.com.
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