June/July School holidays in Brisbane means shorter days and slightly cooler temperatures. The question on many parents of school aged children minds is what to do? Stay at home with the kids, let them play their Xbox, DSi's, iPod touches and Wii and then battle them to get off the electronics and outside to the park or visit friends. Consider going south for a snow holiday to really get them out and exercising, or look into a quick getaway break close by.
Thanks to some heavy advertising, I looked into a few deals for the close by option: one at Byron Bay, the other at Caloundra.
Polling the kids it was a split decision, two wanting Byron, one wanting Caloundra. So as the deciding adult, I chose Caloundra. Why? Possibly a little influenced by a deal advertised in a the newspaper's travel section, (no doubt to attract custom in the winter months), Rumba Resort in Caloundra offered a package called the Winter Warmer. This included four nights for the price of three in one of their Resort Spa Suites or Ocean Apartment. To sweeten the deal, they threw in a few extras described on the web:
A welcome gift on arrival of red wine & Roses chocolates for you to enjoy.
Complimentary tickets for a morning or afternoon on the water with the renowned Caloundra Cruise boat on the beautiful Pumicestone passage.
Complimentary full days bike hire to explore Caloundra's beaches and coastal pathways.
New Dine in Style VIP Discount Card valid for Rumba's great waterfront restaurants.
If that wasn't enough, all rooms offered free WiFi and car parking.
So the extras sounded enticing, but the sealer of the deal was the additional night thrown in for "free." Not one to be fooled by such a grab - I did my sums and the Rumba Resort Winter Warmer deal was actually an economical one for my family of four. Throw in that Caloundra is a family friendly place and just over an hour's drive from Brisbane and I was quick to book our coastal winter break. (Hoping for good weather - not always a guarantee at this time of year.)
Arriving at Caloundra's Rumba Resort opposite Bulcock Beach, I immediately noticed a couple of things. Pretty much all we would need on holiday, is in walking distance. Personally, I enjoy a holiday place where you can park your car for a few days knowing everywhere is accessible on foot. As the only driver, that aspect on its own, means more of a relaxed holiday.
Below Rumba's pool deck, accessible via stairs down to the street level are a few cafes (Hogs Breath Cafe; Coffee Club; Surfside Bar and a small coffee shop selling ice-creams) These all have fantastic vistas of Bulcock Beach. Sitting at either the Hogs Breath or Coffee Club's outside tables allowed our restless boys to expend excess energy, playing across the road on the beach - all within full parental view. Another of the little things that make a holiday as a single parent more enjoyable.
Add to this Caloundra's main street (Bulcock) is a two minute stroll from Rumba's reception. The street offers much in the way of Retail therapy: including gift shops; sweet shops; IGA supermarke; Night Owl convenience store; Dick Smith; a video store - quite a few of the major shops found in the Westfield centres. One evening, strolling back to Rumba, I discovered a fabulous Massage and Natural Therapies place (A Perfect Blend) literally around the corner from the Resort. The next day I managed to hook a cancellation appointment and indulged in some much-needed muscle releasing treatment via a massage therapist who knew her stuff (Ruth Parish). You know a massage is good, when you don't want it to end!
On the only afternoon of bleak weather and rain, we enjoyed a movie at the Cinemas located at the top of Bulcock Street. A building that has been around for ever, (I recall the cinema being around 20 years ago - when I worked my first ever job in Caloundra.) Boasting 5 cinema theatres showing all the recent releases (also 3D releases), this was the perfect distraction from the weather and one the family enjoyed without breaking mum's bank balance.
About Rumba Resort:
Our apartment was a two bedroom Resort spa suite: The main bedroom with King Bed and ensuite (including spa bathtub), was equipped with flat-screen TV mounted on the wall and sliding door to a large balcony with partially obscured views of the water.
The kitchen and lounge area was large and offered ocean glimpses (between buildings). The lounge displayed a large flat screened TV, desk with wi-fi amenities; small round table to seat four. The apartment provided ample comfort and space for our family.
The unit was tastefully furnished and we could not hear our neighbours (except when they set off the smoke alarms). I have three noisy boys so I always judge a place on whether we can hear next door or not as I am sure they won't want to hear us. The air conditioning challenged us on the first night - but once we were shown how to turn it down (cooler) - we had a much better night's sleep.
The resort boasts a lap pool heated to 26 degrees and a jacuzzi heated to 36 degrees, so despite the cooler temps the kids could swim. The bonus with the lap pool were the glass port holes that allowed adventurous kids to swim down and check out what was happening in the Hog's Breath cafe below.
The funny part about the extra bonuses thrown in - the most excited my kids were was over the good old box of Cadbury Roses chocolates - simple pleasures! As we were on holidays the glass of red helped with the flow of the evening for Mum.
Despite all the whingeing, I made the boys accompany me on a bike ride - which only lasted 2 hours. We headed to the bike path along Golden Beach - flat and easy. It was fun (for me) and I was happy they were out and away from electronics even if it was only a few hours. Given the state of kids these days who seem to like everything laid on and to be "perfect", there was a fair amount of whingeing about the hire bikes having no gears to change. Mum's response: toughen up!
We gave the (complimentary) boat cruise a miss - but I am sure on beautiful day, with the right company, it could be interesting.
One thing I loved about where we stayed was the easy access to walking paths linking the various Caloundra beaches. It was an easy walk from Bulcock to Kings and then on to Moffat for the fitness inclined. The paths were popular and used by many - the view of the coastline and incoming ships make it a very pleasant way to exercise in the fresh air.
A hint given by a relative was to take the boys to the Queensland Air Museum which we stopped in at briefly on the way home to Brisbane. This was a little gem of a find and was boy's heaven - with a F-111 in the hanger and various other planes on display including a DC3 and many Cessnas. The afternoon we arrived an army helicopter landed on the airstrip opposite the museum all part of a special event being held that week-end (Open Cockpit Weekend.)
It was winter and despite the enticing Winter Warmer package, Rumba Resort was relatively quiet and empty - which surprised me considering it was school holidays. Given that the resort is already reaching maximum capacity over Christmas holidays (reception informed me its very busy at that time of the year), I am glad we ventured out over winter and lucked a beautiful few days weather wise. We have now experienced Rumba Resort and give it the thumbs up.