We are a young journalist/photographer duo. We live in London and save our pennies to travel as often as possible. So far we've visited 72 countries and driven with zebras in South Africa, been caving in Austria, cavorted with Bedouins in the Sahara, befriended soldiers in Israel, and partied in a nuclear bunker in the Czech Republic.
The sky is pink one minute and orange the next. The golden light of the sun outlines the clouds. There are dozens of birds lapping up the water. Surfers trying to tame the waves. All around us locals are going about their exercise routines. But we just sit there, admiring the sunrise! Sunrise at Surfers Paradise is an experience that is etched in our memory forever.
A post shared by Savi and Vid (@bruisedpassports) on Apr 24, 2019 at 9:29pm PDT
We visit Australia to spend time with Vid’s nieces ever so often but this time around we were in Gold Coast to showcase an exciting experience for Hilton Honors members. If you’re a Hilton Honors member, you can bid for this experience using Hilton Honors points and if you win the auction, you can savour this entire Hilton Honors Experience. Even sightseeing, transfers, and meals are included, so you don’t have to spend a penny from your pocket.
Here’s all our favourites that are included in the experience itself:
From the moment you land at the airport, all your transfers are taken care of. You will be pampered with limousine transfers, so you feel like a VIP on your vacation in the Gold Coast.
Hilton Surfers Paradise is located in close proximity to Surfers Paradise beach. Rooms are equipped with comfortable beds, large windows and views overlooking the ocean, hinterland or city. Breakfast boasts of a huge full buffet selection, including a cereal bar, salad bar, fruit and hot food stations. In addition to this, you can also expect an array of Asian and continental delicacies. The combination of spacious rooms and such an extensive breakfast buffet makes it an attractive option for both couples and families. A spa treatment at eforea spa in the hotel is included in your Hilton Honors Experience, so make sure you reserve it for a day when you need it the most.
The best part is that the hotel is less than a 5 minute walk from the beach front. This ensures great views but better still, you can walk to the beach at sunrise before the crowds descend. We might have done this everyday (hello jetlag!) and can I just say, this was definitely our highlight of the day every single day!
Can’t beat that view from the room can you?
This gorgeous view just a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel!
We ended our stay in Gold Coast with a relaxing massage at eforea
Sunny days and palm-fringed boulevards – all at Hilton Surfers Paradise
Meals, drinks, and nibbles
Isn’t food the highlight of every holiday? This Hilton Honors Experience includes several meals that you will love to bits. Grab some cocktails at Fix Bar – they have several interesting ones on offer including a Watermelon Negroni that we loved! Don’t leave without sampling the nibbles, especially the halloumi fries with garlic aioli. You will definitely be asking for seconds.
Another meal that is included in this experience, and one you shouldn’t skip, is a relaxed dinner at Catch Restaurant. Here fresh ingredients, sustainable seafood, and occasionally Asian flavours come together to create a delectable meal, one you will remember for a while. Come hungry and try the signature Seafood Platter for two. If you’re not ravenous, the chargrilled barramundi or braised lamb shoulder is scrumptious too.
Could fly back for this Espresso martini and delicious finger food at FIX
Entry to Gold Coast’s iconic theme parks
You can’t visit the Gold Coast without visiting its iconic theme parks. They offer the perfect excuse to have some much-needed fun with friends, family, or your partner. Tickets to Dreamworld and WhiteWater World are included in this experience, so we would suggest keeping one entire day for this. Make sure you’re amongst the first to enter Dream World (gates open at 10 am). Scream your lungs out on the crazy roller coasters (The Claw is a specially fun one!), feast on snacks, witness a parade or two, and enjoy the excitement in the air. Dreamworld makes for a fun day out. If you’re a water baby at heart, then head over to the adjoining Whitewater World for the rest of the day. There are dozens of fun rides here – just change into your swimwear and get ready to be splashed with copious amounts of water. Don’t leave without trying the Pipeline Plunge or the crazy Super Tubes Hydro Coaster. One thing’s for sure – you’ll be tired and happy at the end of this day.
Make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes. And don’t forget to carry your swimwear and sunscreen for the adventure.
A post shared by Savi and Vid (@bruisedpassports) on Apr 26, 2019 at 10:29pm PDT
A visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
You can’t come to Australia and leave without seeing kangaroos right? Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place to witness kangaroos and koalas in their habitats. The sprawling sanctuary is a magnet for kids, so we would definitely recommend it if you are travelling with your family. Kids can feed baby kangaroos, watch koalas, and even get photos with them.
It can take quite a few hours to explore the sanctuary. But if you’re not too tired by the end of it, we would recommend stopping at Burleigh Heads Beach or even Currumbin beach on your way back to the hotel. The beach offers stunning views of Surfers Paradise and is the perfect place to spend a relaxed afternoon around Currumbin.
Watch them kangaroos run around That was pretty much our condition mid-day all thanks to jet lag!!
Gorgeous Currumbin beach with the Surfers Paradise skyline in the backdrop
Take a surfing lesson or chill at a secluded beach
It isn’t called the Gold Coast for nothing! The area is home to dozens of powdery beaches. You could enrol yourself for a surfing lesson at Surfers Paradise that is included in your Hilton Honors Experience. And if surfing isn’t your cup of tea, and you just want to relax at the beach or read a book by the water, then we’d suggest heading to one of the many secluded beaches in the area. Tallebudgera Creek, Snapper Rocks, and Greenmount Beach are just a couple of options.
Wrap up the laid-back day by heading to the bustling Miami Marketta. This little food market is inspired by Asian food markets. A number of stalls, boasting of fresh food made from premium ingredients, can be found at close quarters. You’ll find everything from falafel rolls and briskets to pizzas and stews here. But the best part is the live music, which keeps the vibe upbeat. Ideal for a Friday night, Miami Marketta is a wee gem in the area.
GO surfing …or just chill at one of the many stunning beaches close to the hotel
Wrap up the day with scrumptious food and live music at Miami Marketta
Drive the Pacific Highway
If you’d like to extend your holiday, then Surfers Paradise is also the ideal starting point for an iconic drive along the Pacific Highway to Sydney. This is famed to be one of the prettiest roads in the world and makes for a great little road trip. Rent a car in Gold Coast and start driving towards Sydney, before flying out from Sydney. There are a number of stunning stops along the way including Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, and Port Macquarie but it’s the feeling of driving along the water that we enjoyed the most. You could spend anywhere from 2-6 days on this road trip, depending on the time you have on hand. Do note that this drive is not a part of the Hilton Honors Experience.
Tucked away in the Western Ghats, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, boasts of being one of India’s premier eco wellness retreats, paving the way for detox and wellness programs premised on Ayurveda and science.
Over the last few years, we have loved exploring everything that India has to offer. From an adventurous road trip in the North to the gorgeous backwaters in the South, we have had some great experiences. However, this summer we sampled something we have never tried before – a Hilton Honors experience that can only be described as a unique culinary and wellness journey. We flew from Delhi to Pune and kickstarted our time in Maharashtra by spending a couple of nights at the lavish Conrad Pune. The hotel prides itself on its dining options, so we just had to try a couple of restaurants out for ourselves. First on the list – Koji, the Japanese restaurant at Conrad Pune. Sushi is my undoing, so I might have gone overboard. As a result of that, I couldn’t try much else. But Savi testified to the fact that the pumpkin curry at Koji was exceptional – it’s creamy and hits just the right spot. Our day-long culinary feast continued with Conrad’s signature breakfast at The Coriander Kitchen. So many of our readers messaged us about the breakfast spread here and it sure lived up to the hype. There is a large array of continental and Indian specialities, but we really enjoyed the fresh breads that were doing the rounds, straight out of the oven. It’s a small touch but a special one!
Luxurious room at Conrad Pune
THAT sushi platter at Koji was EVERYTHING
A post shared by Savi and Vid (@bruisedpassports) on Apr 13, 2019 at 10:35pm PDT
Even though we weren’t planning on spending too long in Pune, we went out for a couple of hours to check out the gorgeous Aga Khan Palace and Shaniwar Wada (free wifi here so don’t be surprised if you see LOTS of young kids sat outside ;-)). These places can get crowded so we recommend being there as soon as the gates open. As soon as you get back to the hotel, you have all the leisure time in the world – read a book by the pool, snooze in your room, or go for a relaxing massage at the luxurious spa. No prizes for guessing what we chose We enjoyed a languorous Balinese massage and ended the day with some refreshing cocktails at Masu. Now if everyday could be as relaxed as this one!
This gluttony in Pune was followed by something completely unique (and much-needed) – a strict detox program. Tucked away in the Western Ghats, 3 hours away from Pune, Hilton Shillim Estate Resort & Spa, boasts of being one of India’s premier wellness retreats, paving the way for detox and wellness programs premised on Ayurveda and science. As we drove past the entrance, we were greeted by the cheerful staff, who would then go on to welcome us with a soothing foot ritual while the flutist serenaded us with calming tunes. We looked around at the lush green rolling hills and could not believe that this peaceful haven is just a few hours from the busy metropolis. Here’s a little video:
A post shared by Savi and Vid (@bruisedpassports) on Mar 13, 2019 at 5:29am PDT
We’ve been to our fair share of trendy wellness retreats where the concept of wellness is limited to instagrammable smoothie bowls or a scenic session of morning yoga. But this was our first time at a wellness retreat that prides itself on a scientific and result-driven approach. There are plenty of programs to choose from – ranging from easy detoxes to 28 day detoxes with results that range from weight loss and increased metabolism to lowered cholesterol and stress. No wonder it is a favourite with celebrities and film stars in India!
We were at Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa only for 3 nights but we decided to dive into the deep end and sample their holistic Dharana program – a wellness program that starts with a detailed private consultation with a doctor. Expect to spend a couple of hours with the team who’ll run you through the concept of Ayurveda, ask you to answer a detailed questionnaire, and do a thorough physical check-up. This is followed by personalised diet charts, fitness rituals, and daily therapies, all based on the analysis from the detailed consultation. We’re healthy eaters and love exercising on the daily – so I have to admit I was excited at the prospect of devouring nutritious wholesome food and getting some exercise! However the thought of cutting out caffeine (no coffee here!) and sugar (no desserts!) completely seemed a bit daunting but I was willing to give it a go!
We spent our first afternoon walking around the sprawling retreat that spans 320 acres. Yes you heard that right – it is huge! There is a scenic yogshala, gorgeous wellness and healing spaces(more on that later!), a tasteful tea room that offers a range of herbal teas, and plenty of landscaped corners to help you feel like your miles away from the maddening crowds. Villas are dotted at a generous distance from each other. This guarantees complete privacy if you’re travelling as a couple, but it might be something to keep in mind if you are travelling as a family and book more than 1 villa. There are small electric cars to take you around the resort, but we suggest walking – it’s a good way to get some exercise snuck in!
Waking up to this amazing view!
And walking around the gorgeous property in white Each welnness Villa comes with its own pool
My favourite part of the retreat was the calming restaurant dedicated to the wellness wing of the retreat, The Green Table. As the name suggests, the restaurant specialises in organic food made in compliance with the wellness programs at the hotel. All ingredients are sourced from local farms, and it shows! One bite and you can tell the food is top notch. We dined at The Green Table at every meal and really enjoyed our meals. The customised meal plan ensured we got different menus each day but most of our three-course meals comprised of healthy salads, nutritious soups, and wholesome main courses such as rotis (indian flatbread) and a vegetable curry, vegetable cutlets on a bed of quinoa, or a porridge and chickpea stew. I must admit I was still missing my coffee at the end of Day 2 but this simple food left me thoroughly satisfied and I didn’t miss dessert at all! In fact, we dropped by Terazzo Bar for its stunning views over the Western Ghats and while the other guests enjoyed coffee and desserts, we happily sipped on our green juices and turmeric lattes.
Enjoying scrumptious meals by the pond
Well we’d never give up on a view like that
These carefully-planned meals were complimented by daily fitness rituals. There is a bunch of activities to choose from. But I would highly recommend waking up early and attending the morning Yoga sessions . Aqua aerobics is another option, specially alluring because of the hotel’s scenic infinity pool overlooking gorgeous mountain ranges bathing in glimmering rays of the rising sun. If you enjoy walks and hikes, then I would also recommend a stunning sunrise hike to the Shillim Peak. The hotel’s staff will take you on this guided hike and while the scheduled departure is 7 a.m., I’d strongly suggest starting much earlier so that you can witness one of the most spectacular sunrises from the top. It takes around 30 minutes to go up and the climb is quite steep in parts, but nothing too difficult. Once you’re at the top, walk around, take in the 360 degree view and just savour the experience. You could also spend some time doing Yoga at the top. This trekking experience was definitely one of the highlights for us on this trip. If you’re not into trekking or would like to take a morning off heavy exercise, there’s plenty of other experiences to choose from here. You could choose from different types of meditation, pottery, or just reading a book while sipping on some herbal tea at the gorgeous tea house overlooking the rolling hills.
There’s pottery lessons too Oh HOW much I loved this trek
Each day we relaxed those aching muscles with Ayurveda therapies and treatments curated for our individual body types. We sampled everything from leisurely body therapies to detoxifying treatments. But my favourite would have to be the traditional Ayurvedic shiro-dhara therapy. Excuse me for being a bit hyperbolic, but this experience was life changing. A steady stream of warm oil on my forehead, followed by a gentle head massage lasting well over an hour! It was my first time getting this treatment, but I will definitely be opting for it every time I see it on a spa menu in the future.