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Gourmet Traveller 2017 travel trends revealed

Wondering where the new in-demand destinations are? We’ve pulled the results of our Gourmet Explorer quiz to highlight the new travel hotspots worth visiting and help inspire your next overseas jaunt.

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Elements of Byron

A new Byron Bay resort is a beach retreat with a strong eco-focus.

Fringed by nearly two kilometres of sand at Belongil Beach, just north of Byron Bay, the region's newest resort looks set to update the quintessential northern NSW beach-shack holiday.

Due to open next month, the $100 million Elements of Byron is on a 20-hectare plot, part of an 80-hectare property bought in 2010 by Brisbane-based business couple Peggy and Brian Flannery. Four years in the planning and 18 months in construction, the resort is part of Accor Hotels' MGallery collection. Peggy Flannery envisages the resort as a salute to all that's great about Byron, from local produce and works by regional artists to endemic species in landscaping.

The building footprint, including 97 one- and two-bedroom villas, occupies just 10 per cent of the site (another 96 villas are planned in phase two), and this ambition to keep the footprint light, small and single-storey is also key to the project, says development director Jeremy Holmes.

"The detached villas are designed to be low impact and low density," says Holmes. "It's all about the authentic Byron Bay beachside holiday."

Among the energy-conscious, tech-savvy room features are motion-activated air-conditioning and iPad-controlled power and lights; guests can monitor their energy use in real time and offset it on departure.

The architecture and interiors by Shane Thompson Architects and Rowena Cornwell of Coop Creative are themed according to the site's four ecological zones: dunal, eucalypt, wetlands and rainforest. All villas feature blackbutt floors, louvred windows and custom Shibori leather bedheads. Five of the 21 beachside villas have uninterrupted ocean views; others overlook a lake, ponds or forest.

At the heart of the resort is a trio of pavilions housing two restaurants, bars, day spa, large free-form infinity pool, a poolside café and conference facilities.

Executive chef Justin Dingle-Garciyya, former culinary director of the US-based Morgans Hotel Group, will oversee the 230-seat Graze, with wood-fired oven and terrace, and the more formal Mixed Dozen Restaurant.

Byron Bay's town centre is a two-kilometre beach walk away, or guests can hitch a ride on a restored heritage train.

Elements of Byron, villas from $380. End of Bayshore Dr, Byron Bay, NSW, (02) 6639 1500


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