We joined the Accor Vacation Club (AVC) in 2009 and soon discovered it was a great way to holiday in luxury accommodation at exciting destinations in the Pacific region. Then if we desired to cross more places off our bucket list and venture further afield, we found our Interval membership a great option to travel the world
Our first holiday was to the Gold Coast in February 2010 where we attended a “Summer Party” for Accor members at the Sofitel Hotel, Broadbeach. During the evening we were pleasantly surprised to be presented with a trip to Fiji by CEO Craig Wood for winning the early bird competition. So after 40 years of marriage we took this opportunity to celebrate our ruby anniversary at the Sofitel Resort & Spa, Fiji located on beautiful Denarau Island.
Here we discovered a private beach, huge swimming pool, three restaurants, four bars, international health spa, wedding chapel and large ballroom within the resort. Everywhere in the resort we were greeted by a very warm welcoming ‘Bula’ from smiling, generous & relaxed Fijians who were more than willing to share their culture and way of life with us
We enjoyed a range of culture experiences everyday at the resort such as wood carving, sarong tying, palm weaving, coconut orientation, pottery lessons, basket weaving & watermelon cracking in conjunction with storytelling sessions on local history, legends and traditional medicines. Other sessions included learning to speak the Fijian language, singing Fijian songs and joining in traditional Fijian dances including a Kava brewing & tasting session.
Each night we watched the famous torch lighting ceremony as the local warriors ran around the resort lighting up all the torches to the beat of the Lali drum. And the restaurants served up lots of culinary delights by offering a different theme each night including a traditional Fijian feast night which had been cooked underground in the “Lovo” burial and unearthing ceremony earlier in the day. Then we were serenaded each day by the local musicians who would sing both Fijian & western songs.
After being treated to a champagne breakfast buffet each day we were more than willing to work on our waistlines and participate in many of the resort activities like pool aerobics & volleyball, motorised & non-motorised water sports, beach rugby & soccer and leisurely walks. Then there were the exotic spa & massage treatments at the Health Spa to rejuvenate the body & soul. In fact there was so much to see and do that we only ventured into Nadi on one occasion to do some shopping and enjoy the local bargaining
Renowned for its warm hospitality, this Fiji beach resort certainly made our stay unlike anything we had ever experienced and is highly recommended to all Accor travellers
Our next overseas adventure was a trip to Bali when we stayed at Novotel Nusa Dua, AVC Apartments where our Balinese holiday was similar in many ways to Fiji, but with a lot more emphasis on their cultural heritage and spiritual traditions. On this occasion we combined a holiday at Accor’s Freshwater Point, Coolangatta with an extension to Bali before returning to Sydney. We found Stacy Loxton from the Club’s Flight Centre very helpful in booking all our flights and organizing orderly connections
After touching down at Ngurah Rai international airport we were soon on our way by hotel shuttle to the Novotel where we observed that the humble motor scooter was king of the road, out numbering motor vehicles by about 9:1 with riders wearing colorful helmets darting in and out of the traffic. It appeared a bit chaotic but the traffic flowed and everyone exercised patience, showing respect for each other with no noticeable accidents.
We soon discovered why Bali is called the “Island of the Gods” with breathtaking scenery; lush vegetation, rice terraces & barren volcanic hillsides; palm-fringed sandy beaches & rugged coastlines; colorful gardens and Balinese architecture. We quickly found the Novotel was a 5 ⃰ resort with a sense of exclusivity, set in tranquil tropical gardens with a 1500 sqm infinity edge pool as the focal point to inspire everyone to relax and enjoy themselves at Nusa Dua, which means “Two Islands”.
The resort provided a similar range of leisure, recreational and cultural facilities we had experienced in Fiji and being Advantage Plus (Le Plus) members, again there was no reason to leave the resort for meals, as delicious Indonesian & international cuisine was served in “The Square” open-air restaurant featuring daily themed a la carte & buffet menus, including a Balinese Cultural Night. The ambiance was enhanced by local musicians who would serenade the diners with local & western songs.
Then there was another exclusive restaurant at the private Beach Club where candlelight dining on the beach surrounded by torches was so serene with the waves gently breaking in the background.
We again spent time in their wellness centre with the highlight being a 2 hour Chocolate Indulgence where our bodies were pampered with ancient and modern massages, spas, scrubs and lotions. We didn’t want to leave the resort but felt compelled to venture into Kuta, the favorite holiday destination renowned for party animals drawn to the beach culture and 100’s of bars & nightclubs on offer. After a walk on the main beach and lunch in a waterside restaurant, we hit the local shops where there was an abundance of local artifacts & mass produced souvenirs or “genuine designer imitations” and bargaining was the norm.
Then it was onto the Uluwatu Monkey Temple, a spectacular set of Balinese monasteries perched along the rugged coastline/west face of the south peninsula, where the temple was inhabited by large number of cute, but cheeky monkeys, who were very adept at snatching visitors’ belongings including bags, cameras, hats, eye glasses, watches & jewellery. We bought some bananas and banana chips but once the monkeys knew we had food they were not satisfied until they had consumed it all and would then tug on our sarongs for more. Sarongs were mandatory to visit this site and the locals were making a bit of money hustling the tourists to rent a sarong.
We watched for awhile as the monkeys relieved some of the tourists of their valuables. Some persuaded the monkeys to exchange their possessions for some fruit, while others had to pay a tip to the locals or the temple priests to get their items back. This appeared to encourage the monkeys to steal more for additional rewards, but most of the tourists, after recovering their property, enjoyed the entertainment and most took photos to record their experience.
We left the monkeys behind to explore the Uluwatu site which means “the temple at the top of the rock” with nearly all the buildings in need of refurbishment and repair, especially a pagoda like temple at the top of the Uluwatu cliffs.
The views of the Indian Ocean were great at the summit where the locals were praying to Vayu, the Hindu God of the Winds, to keep the clouds away so there would be a spectacular sunset to enhance the Balinese Kecak Dance (monkey fire dance) held each day at sunset. Under Bali’s Hindu culture, traditional dances, plays & ceremonies are held almost every day to celebrate the cycles of the moon, holidays, birth, marriage, coming of age, passing away & spiritual offerings to their Gods and demons.
We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday in Bali and left this beautiful country so much more culturally enriched for the experience. It was so much more than just young people partying on a broad scale which attracted adverse publicity from time to time. Initially we were a little apprehensive about holidaying here and probably wouldn’t have come if we weren’t Club members.
Our next adventure was a holiday to Melbourne to cross the Australian Open Tennis off our bucket list where we stayed at the Grand Mercure AVC Apartments, Flinders Lane. We stayed there shortly after the refurbishments had been completed and felt we were back in Europe again with all the superb Parisian décor. This luxury accommodation is very centrally located and everything is only a hop, step and jump from the front door. Most days we walked to the tennis and/or caught a tram which was complimentary with a pre purchased tennis ticket.
In our younger days we played a bit of tennis and grew up in the era where Australia dominated the world stage with the pocket rocket, Rod Laver being our favorite player. So it was a great experience to watch the finals of the women’s & men’s singles, doubles & mixed doubles with some junior finals thrown in as well at the Rod Laver Arena.
The Gold Coast is another of our favourite holiday destinations where we spent our honeymoon many years ago. We have been regular visitors over a period of 40 years, staying in most of the 4 & 5 star hotels and resorts on the coast, with many of our holidays at the Sofitel in Broadbeach, formerly called the Grand Mercure, Pan Pacific & inaugural Broadbeach International
Since joining AVC our past 3 holidays on the coast have been spent at a more peaceful waterfront location at Freshwater Point Resort, AVC Apartments located on the riverbank, adjacent to the Convention Centre & Jupiters Casino. Here we can sit back and admire the magnificent views over the Gold Coast while enjoying a relaxing tranquil environment with all the restaurants, shops and beach only a short few minutes away.
Our latest holiday was a one week stay in an idyllic bush resort in the Hunter Valley where we had a very relaxing and enjoyable holiday at the Grand Mercure, The Vintage AVC Apartments. What we liked most about the resort was the freedom to do as much or as little as we liked during our stay
We were surprised that the resort was set in an almost secluded location next to The Vintage Golf Course, which proved an ideal venue to wile all our troubles away, recharge the batteries while enjoying a better quality of life as we experienced the Hunter Valley through our taste buds.
We went wine & food tasting each day but with some 166 cellar doors and 65 eating establishments it was impossible to visit them all, especially with additional cheese, chocolate & boutique beer tasting. Then there were the Farmers/craft markets for extra tastings and purchases, plus the Legends restaurant & café at the adjoining Vintage Golf Club
But there was a lot more than fine food & wine and by far the biggest attraction was the Hunter Valley Gardens set on 25 landscaped hectares with lots of themed and featured gardens to display all the seasonal colors, scents, lookouts, water features and natural wildlife. We couldn’t help but admire the smiles on everyone’s faces (Big Kids & Little Kids) as they stepped back in time in the Storybook Garden. Very similar atmosphere to Disneyland
Back in the early 1970’s Rhonda & I lived in Cessnock for a few years but then there were only 3 cellar doors (Draytons, Tullochs & Tyrrells) and commercialization was only a pipe dream. We also managed to catch up colleagues we hadn’t seen for the past 40 years and it was great to reminisce old times and dream about what the Hunter could look like in another 40 years if the current rate of development continued unabated
So after a relatively short time with AVC we have been able to experience some very special times and enjoy holiday in destinations which may still be on our bucket list if we didn’t join Accor in 2009. We are certainly receiving great value for money and are always keeping an eye out for new properties and destinations to experience as Accor continues to expand
Rhonda & Bob – Bathurst NSW