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Splinters Guest House

Because of the time of year we got married, James couldn’t take much time off work so we delayed our big honeymoon for April and decided to take a 5 day mini moon after the wedding. Seeing as our wedding was in the Hunter Valley we wanted to find somewhere close by to relax and unwind. I had been researching places to stay on the internet and staying more than a weekend in the Hunter can get quite expensive. So rather than looking for the hotel options we researched some of the B&B’s in the area and found Splinters Guest House. It truly is an amazing place to stay! The owner Bobby is one of the friendliest ladies we have ever met. She took care of all our plans as well being the best host. Not only is the property gorgeous, but the whole feel of the place is so warm and welcoming.

Splinters Guest House Scenery

Enjoying our first breakfast

As soon as we got settled, we were brought complimentary wine and cheese and Bobby went through all the dining options in the area, wine tours, day spas and asked what our Melbourne Cup plans were. We had already made a booking at Peterson’s Champagne House so all that was needed to be done was arrange how to get there, which Bobby took care of for us. When our lift arrived we were pleasantly surprised to see a limousine pull into the property. So off we went in style!  The food was delicious and my favourite the pink sparkling wine is definitely worth a visit, it was a fantastic function and a fun way to spend our first Melbourne Cup as a married couple. Most wine tours stop in there, but if you want to go for a nice lunch or dinner than the Cuvee restaurant is a must.

After the lunch was finished we were still in the mood to celebrate so we headed to Harrigans Pub. It was nice being back there because the night before our wedding all our guests joined us there for dinner and drinks. When we were ready to go home we called our driver to pick us up but he was stuck on another job, so he spoke with Bobby and she came to pick us up. Talk about going above and beyond. It was this kind of service that made our stay amazing!

Drinks at Harrigan’s Pub

The following day we tried our hand at golf … but neither of us was very good. So we just enjoyed the sunshine and attempted to play as best we could!

Playing golf terribly

Because we were in walking distance to the Blue Tongue Brewery we headed there to taste all the beers they had to offer. They also have a cellar door which has lots of wines from small wine makers so we were able to try about 30 … no joke. It was a very enjoyable afternoon. Walking there was a good idea, but walking back … not so good when it was about 2 kms back to the B&B and we were both armed with bottles of wine!

Tasting paddle at the Blue Tongue Brewery

That night Bobby recommended another restaurant called Botanica at the Vineyards Estate. It was three properties down so we could walk there and back: it was so beautiful walking amongst the vines through each property.  After we were seated the waitress came over with two glasses of champagne compliments of Bobby congratulating us on our wedding! Seriously if you want a fantastic weekend or few days in the Hunter I highly recommend staying at Splinters, and enjoying a meal at Botanica … the food was delicious!

Giant eagle

On our last day went on a Hunter Valley Wine Tour. It was a full day tour and we went to a lot of vineyards and cheese and chocolate factories. As fun as it was, a full day tour is quite tiring especially if you are tasting wines at each stop so if I were to do it again I think half a day would be perfect.

Relaxing by the pool at Splinters Guest House

Laughing at the statue on the estate

The five days we spent there went so quickly, but it was so nice to relax after the wedding and stay in such a gorgeous place. If you only have time for a short break I highly recommend the Hunter Valley and a stay at Splinters Guest House.

Photographs by Caroline and James.

Ms Gingham says: Thanks to Caroline and James for sharing their mini moon experience with us. After a hectic wedding filled with emotion it’s so nice to be able to recharge the batteries! You can read all about Caroline and James’s wedding here.

Caroline says: “My favourite part of the wedding day was definitely our ceremony and marrying James, but also knowing that everyone was there because they love us and seeing everyone so happy for us really blew us away. We wanted one big celebration and that’s exactly what it was!”

Polka Dot Honeymoons Directory Mid Banner

Next stop, Bora Bora, French Polynesia – the second stretch of our honeymoon. SQUEEEEE! Due to connecting flights, we flew to Sydney from the Gold Coast and stayed overnight at the Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport Hotel. At the crack of dawn we flew to Auckland for a 3 hour stopover. We were oh so close! After a 5 hour flight, we reached our stopover destination, Papeete. As we arrived in the evening, we headed straight to our resort and to bed. Our accommodation was a Lagoon Suite at the Manava Suite Resort Tahiti.

Foyer

Lagoon Suites

Our suite was so modern and spacious with a private terrace overlooking the lagoon. The view was amazing, the perfect teaser, we couldn’t wait to reach Bora Bora!

View 7

View 6

On our return to Australia we had another stopover in Papeete with more time to explore our surroundings. We decided to travel by foot, but to be honest, there wasn’t much to see or do within walking distance of the resort. We strolled up and down the highway sticking out like sore thumbs! It was a great opportunity to see the local homes and people. If you’re interested in viewing more of the city, it would be best to travel by taxi (although expensive). The local food trucks known as “Les Roulottes” on the main wharf are supposedly popular with tourists.

The following morning we departed for our most anticipated destination, Bora Bora. Trip Advisor was a great research tool during our planning and thanks to recommendations from the website, we sat on the left hand side of the plane (when facing the cockpit) to maximise our view of the islands. We all rushed to the front of the line, teeth gritted and elbows out, and charged onto the plane to ensure we secured the best seats. I’m surprised the plane didn’t tilt to one side!

Plane

The glorious views of Tahiti and Her Islands.

We touched down 45 minutes later and were welcomed by a resort representative and decorated with leis. Bora Bora Airport is located on its own motu (islet) and each resort has a boat to transfer guests.

The weather was a tad gloomy upon arrival, however nothing could diminish the brilliance of the azure water!

Our home for 5 blissful days – Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa. The only resort on motu Tevairoa giving us a sense of total seclusion. The majority of resorts were on the main island.

Resort Sign

Walk Way

We checked into our Overwater Bungalow (#22), settled and then explored the rest of the resort. Bora Bora was everything we had imagined and more. It was truly breathtaking. It was such a surreal feeling, we had to pinch ourselves.

Number 22

Bungalows

View 4

Bath

The view from within our Overwater Bungalow.

Bedroom View

Glass featured throughout the room – the vanity, the bath tub, the bedside tables and the coffee table. The tables had tops that slid open to feed the fish below, this was such a novelty! We spent hours gazing at the marine life, I’m sure we had a resident fish who visited us daily for a snack.

Closed Centre Table

Open Centre Table

Our terrace equipped with lounge chairs and a lower sun deck with a ladder plunging directly into the lagoon. O…M…G! Most evenings we would sit on the lower sun deck and feed hundreds of fish by hand. The little suckers tickled our fingers with their hungry mouths!

Deck Chairs

My honeymoon gift, an authentic Tahitian black pearl.

Tahitian Black Pearl

Poolside.

Resort

Poolside

Pool

Taurearea Bar, where we sipped $25 cocktails/mocktails!

Bar

Taurearea Bar

Tevairoa Restaurant overlooking Bora Bora lagoon and Mount Otemanu. Our honeymoon package included morning and evening meals and we gorged ourselves on sumptuous buffet breakfasts and French influenced cuisine for dinner. If you’re staying at this resort, I would recommend a meal package as there are no self-catering facilities in the bungalows and food and beverage are astronomically priced. You’ll find most things are quite expensive throughout French Polynesia. If you’d like to spoil yourself, there is a popular restaurant on the main island called Bloody Mary’s.

Tevairoa Restaurant

Every Friday evening a Polynesian Show is held in the restaurant, a beautiful display of culture and dance. Guests were pulled up on stage, myself included. I shook my booty as best as I could!

Dance

The weather was typical for the tropics, some days were stunning and other days it would rain for hours and then clear. This didn’t deter us from partaking in some adventures!

Us

As Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa was on its own motu, a regular boat and bus shuttle service was made available to guests wishing to travel to the main island. We decided to visit Vaitape for a wander and a spot of grocery shopping. It was such an interesting day! The local shopping centre consisted of 7 shops and at the local supermarket, we purchased a loaf of bread for $10 and a 1 litre bottle of soft drink for $7! I wasn’t kidding when I said everything in French Polynesia is expensive!

Boat Transfer

Mini Shopping Trolley

The first tour we booked was a full day that involved shark watching, visiting a Lagoonarium and a picnic. We snorkelled with reef sharks and stingrays as our guides fed them. While it was nerve-wracking, it was incredible being so up close and personal.

Mount Otemanu

The Lagoonarium, an outdoor aquarium, was my favourite stop of the day. We were able to feed fish, pet stingrays, watch sea turtles and swim in the coral garden amongst more reef sharks and stingrays. The surrounding views were spectacular! The picnic was delicious, we enjoyed a variety of Polynesian dishes and beverages and learnt the technique of tying a pareo (sarong) in different styles.

Stingray Feeding

Sea Turtles

Lagoonarium

Picnic

Pareos

Our second tour was a half day 4 x 4 safari adventure that took us to several viewpoints around the island, World War II cannons and a pearl farm. Unfortunately the weather was quite dismal on this day, so the panoramic views went to waste. It was a real shame as the photo opportunities would have been superb. We still had a fantastic time nevertheless, decked out in our sexy ponchos, holding onto the jeep for dear life as we drove up and down bumpy terrain.

Jeep

Canon

Bunker

Sexy Ponchos

We booked a third tour, Sailing Sunset Cruise, however this was cancelled due to the wet weather. Although I’m an absolute control freak and prefer to have every minor detail sorted, I would recommend booking tours once you’re on the island. That way you can book according to your mood and the weather. Our resort had a Tour Desk and staff readily available to assist.

All was not lost, I made use of the night in and indulged in a traditional Polynesian massage at Manea Spa. It was worth all 195 dollars! I love a good massage, especially when the therapist walks on your back. Crack those vertebrae, yeah! I felt like jelly afterwards. Bliss!

Manea Spa Sign

Manea Spa Entrance

Manea Spa

When we weren’t on tour, soaking up the sun, sipping cocktails/mocktails or lazing about, we were canoeing in the lagoon …

Canoeing

Snorkelling in the resort’s coral nursery that was purposely installed to maintain coral and marine life …

Lunching at Miki Miki Restaurant & Bar

Miki Miki

Miki Miki

And finally … playing mini golf (I kicked Matt’s butt big time!).

All photos by Katrina and Matthew

Ms Gingham says: Do you ever have the feeling when you’re on holidays, that things just aren’t real? Almost as if you’ve stepped into a postcard and everything around you has been staged like a performance for your benefit? I think that’s how I’d feel in Bora Bora.

Katrina describes herself as: Recent bride turned wifey turned wedding tragic. Two years on & I am still obsessed with all things wedding! I plan on annual vow renewals, but shhh, hubby has no idea. Hehehe! 😉

Check out Part 1 of this honeymoon here.

Q1 View 2

View from Q1 Resort & Spa

Matt and I have been happily married for almost 2 years now and while we enjoyed planning our wedding in November 2009, we equally enjoyed planning our honeymoon! The decision was unanimous from the beginning – fun and excitement in the Gold Coast, plus relaxation and romance on a remote island. For our island getaway we were hoping to travel to the Maldives initially (one should always aim high!), however we stumbled upon an incredible package to Bora Bora, French Polynesia through Oliver Travel that we couldn’t refuse. As Matt and I had already established a home together, we decided on a Honeymoon Registry for our wedding in lieu of traditional gifts. Thanks to Tania Norman from Oliver Travel and our generous family and friends, we were able to experience the honeymoon of our dreams!

Our first holiday to Queensland was back in 2006. We have such fond memories of this trip and therefore decided to return to the Gold Coast for a week. It is a beautiful location with so much to see and do and such a laidback seaside vibe. For the length of our stay we booked a One Bedroom Luxury Suite overlooking the ocean at Q1 Resort & Spa, the World’s tallest residential tower. SkyPoint on Level 77 is worth a visit, the observation deck provides spectacular views of the coastline.

Q1 View

Our suite was so modern and spacious and the self-catering facilities gave us the option to cook our own meals. We tend to book accommodation with a full kitchen so we eat out a little less, saving us dollars. I prefer putting the money towards something far more exciting, such as shopping!

Q1 Lounge

Q1 Kitchen

We covered a lot of the tourist attractions during our last holiday, so we decided to forego the sights on this occasion and spend our time at the theme parks. An entire day was dedicated to each. We’re such children at heart and the theme park passes are great value for money. First stop was Dreamworld and Whitewater World with our favourite Giant Drop (eeek!), Tower of Terror and The Claw. It took a long time to psych ourselves up for the Giant Drop and Tower of Terror, both were petrifying! I convinced (ok, tricked) Matt to go on The Claw with me, let’s just say he wasn’t impressed afterwards!

The Claw

Giant Drop

Second stop was Movie World with our favourite Superman Escape (talk about whip lash!), Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster, Batwing Spaceshot and Lethal Weapon. I love the All Star parade where all the characters come out to play!

Superman Escape

What can I say, we’re suckers for exhilarating rides! Third stop was Wet ‘n’ Wild with our favourite Blackhole and Mach 5. Riding the Blackhole together in complete darkness was such a thrilling sensation, I thought we were going to crash at any point! Matt loves this theme park, I was over the accidental indecent exposure and wedgies (on my part) after a couple of hours!

Blackhole

Final stop was Sea World where we always enjoy the Dolphin and Sea Lion shows. Their intelligence never ceases to amaze me! Ray Reef was my favourite spot, I fell in love with the spotted stingrays and had the opportunity to feed, touch and observe these majestic creatures.

Dolphin Show

Sea Lion Show

Spotted Stingray

During our spare time we shopped along Surfers Paradise Boulevard and ate lunch at the Hard Rock Café, meandered down Cavill Avenue and popped into Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! and strolled on the shore of Surfers Paradise Beach. We’re such tourists! We stumbled upon a quaint Japanese restaurant called Koo Koo Bar & Teppanyaki where our delicious meal was cooked right in front of us on a grill by our very own chef.

Surfers Paradise Beach

Our honeymoon would not be complete without a stay at the Palazzo Versace, so we booked a Superior Suite for our last night in the Gold Coast. We’ve been fortunate enough to stay before, so we decided to indulge ourselves again. Hey, you only honeymoon once, what a perfect excuse to go all out! I absolutely ADORE this hotel, it is the definition of opulence. Swoon!

PV Sign

Seating

PV Foyer

Upon arrival of our suite, we were greeted by this lovely surprise!

Congratulations

Our suite contained a separate living and dining area with bi-fold doors leading to the bedroom and marble bathroom. We had a beautiful view of the pool area from our balcony. In the evening we kept the sliding doors open and slept to the sounds of a trickling fountain and the balmy breeze.

Bedroom

Fountain

Balcony View

Signature Versace. Luxury oozing everywhere. I wish our home was similarly furnished!

Lounge

The spa large enough to bathe an elephant. We received complimentary miniature Versace fragrances. Yay, freebies!

Spa

Rather than venture beyond our suite, we decided to stay in and make the most of our one night. Why would you want to leave!? We were very naughty and ordered room service for both lunch and dinner. Nom nom nom! The buffet breakfast in Il Barocco the following morning was to die for! I can’t tell you how many blueberry pancakes I devoured.

Il Barocco

Our entire week in the Gold Coast was fabulous and our night at the Palazzo Versace was the icing on the cake. We are really looking forward to returning again for more fun in the sun!

Part 2 is coming next week when I write about the second and very different leg of our honeymoon in Bora Bora, French Polynesia.

Photographs by Katrina and Matthew

Ms Gingham says: This is a great start to the relaxation of Bora Bora. The theme parks look like so much fun and after a few of those rides you’d need to down some cocktails to put your stomach back in its place! Looking forward to next week’s post!

Katrina describes herself as: “Recent bride turned wifey turned wedding tragic. Two years on and I am still obsessed with all things wedding! I plan on annual vow renewals, but shhh, hubby has no idea. Hehehe! ;)”