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Cruise control: Captain Kent of the Emerald Princess

We caught up with Princess Cruises’ Captain William Kent to talk life on deck, sailing the Red Sea and how to spend 24 hours in Venice.

Midnight in Melbourne style

After-dark glamour calls for monochrome elegance with accents of red and the glimmer of bling. Martinis await.

Recipes by David Thompson

Thai food maestro David Thompson returns to the Sydney restaurant scene with the opening of Long Chim, a standard-bearer for Thailand’s robust street food. Fiery som dtum is just the beginning.

Reader dinner: Quay, Sydney

Join us at Quay for a specially designed dinner by Peter Gilmore to celebrate the launch of the new Gourmet Traveller cookbook.

GT's party hamper

We’ve partnered again with our friends at Snowgoose to bring you the ultimate party hamper. With each item selected by the Gourmet Traveller team, it’s all killer and no filler.

Aerin Lauder’s Morocco

Meet Aerin Lauder; creative director, lifestyle mogul, mother and global traveller. Here she shares her musings on Morocco, the exotic catalyst for her latest collection.

A hotel dedicated to gin is opening in London

A modern-day gin palace, The Distillery, is set to open in the middle of London’s Portobello Market this year.

Dan Hong's salt and pepper calamari with lime aioli

The executive chef shares his salt and pepper squid recipe, including his secret for a crisp, light batter.

Australia's best hotel spas

Crown Metropol's Isika Spa

Crown Metropol's Isika Spa

Indulgence comes easily to Australian hotels. In-house spas are the ticket to peace and tranquillity, whether decked out in their Roman Empire best or set simply, in a beautiful setting. Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge in northern Tasmania takes the latter course, letting neighbouring Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park cast its spell. The force is strongest at the lodge's Waldheim Alpine Spa, where a couple's sanctuary straddles the picture-book Pencil Pine River.

Just outside the feelgood capital of NSW, guests at the Byron at Byron Resort & Spa check into a 25-hectare tropical haven for site-specific treatments such as the "rainforest respite" and botanical facials. Guests eat well, too: chef Gavin Hughes' menus highlight regional produce (Bangalow pork, Yamba prawns) sourced from farmers' markets.

Our élite lodges excel at relaxation therapy, from Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa's stress-busting combination of World Heritage wilderness and six-room spa featuring Sodashi beautifiers to Qualia's rituals of "bush essence" body wraps and warm stone massages deployed in tropical pavilions overlooking the Coral Sea. The bijou spa at the Reef House Hotel in Palm Cove packs plenty of pleasure into a small space. Its Dreamtime-themed offerings use home-grown Li'Tya products and run to purifying body tonics using local ochres, ash clays and smoked paperbark oils. The Healing Waters Spa at nearby Silky Oaks Lodge draws its inspiration from the Daintree National Park and Mossman River. Nature-based treatments using Sodashi products include a three-hour detoxifying ritual.

We're spoiled for urban spas, and among our favourite city retreats are Crown Metropol's Isika Spa, set 27 floors above metropolitan Melbourne. Besides chakra-balancing massages and anti-ageing facials, the high-rise pool, gym and sauna are perfect for letting off steam. The neighbouring Crown Spa at Crown Towers ramps up the indulgence factor with its Aqua Retreat (hammam, lap pool, private lounge) and elixirs infused with caviar and gold.

In Sydney, we love the Australian-accented treatments (clays, quandong) at the Park Hyatt spa, not least because guests have access to the rooftop pool with its harbour views. And relative newcomer QT Sydney has given us a new appreciation for the old-school pleasures of wet shaves, pedicures and facials tailored to suit every skin type.


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