Camping was never so good
THE wow factor hits the moment we hear that familiar unzipping sound, then peel back the wide cream flaps and step inside.
This is certainly not the camping I know. This is luxe glamping.
We have arrived at The Hideaway Cabarita Beach.
Our Plush Deluxe room (it could never be classified as a "tent") is more like a bohemian boudoir.
And there's more space than most hotel rooms we've stayed in.
A quick glance reveals a king-size bed, bamboo/rattan/cane styling in occasional furniture pieces and a huge funky circular floor rug.
We try to take it all in: the comfy pillows, designer cushions, lounge, director's chairs with casual table, lamps on bedside tables, mini-fridge with glass bottle of water, and towel rack with fluffy towels.
Outside on the grassy front lawn is a rustic scene we've already earmarked for sunset drinks: two squatter chairs beside a sturdy beach umbrella and "stump" table.
We found everything laid out before us on a guided tour of the pet-free and smoke-free resort.
There's not even a set of keys to lose: just walk away (an on-site manager keeps an eye on things during the day and a security guard patrols the resort at night for your peace of mind).
And if you're staying longer than three nights, the room will be serviced every fourth day.
New owners Cath and Adam Smith, born-and-bred Tweed region locals, wanted to create something special they could be proud of that was in keeping with the casual beachside lifestyle and draw people from all over Australia - if not the world - for a no-fuss, restful holiday or mini-break.
The Hideaway Cabarita Beach idea is all about helping guests relax, recharge and rejuvenate.
It's small-scale: capped by the owners at 23 rooms, catering for a maximum of 58 guests on the 4000sq m (one-acre) site.
The rooms come in three sizes: the 6m Plush Deluxe includes a king-size bed; the 6m Bigger/Family Suites have a queen-size bed and a single bed either side; and the 5m Classic has a queen-size bed (the mattresses are made by the company that produces the much-lauded Koala beds - firm but oh-so comfortable, and quality linen is supplied).
They offer everything to love about camping (fresh air, sounds of nature, open spaces, night skies, relaxed living and the novelty of sleeping under canvas) but minimise everything to hate about camping (too uncomfortable, too noisy, too many people, no privacy, too far away from the action, too dirty, too much equipment to pack and lug in then repack and take home).
In fact, The Hideaway is more like a hotel in the great outdoors than an old-style campground, in an idyllic beachside community.
There's plenty of living space within and surrounding the bell structures, which are akin to traditional Himalayan and Mongolian homes and feel like you're sleeping under a circus Big Top. The waterproof cotton canvas is highly soundproof.
Repurposed shipping containers have created a reception area, well-maintained toilets and toilet/showers and laundry, as well as a barbecue/bar area and a kitchen/dining/chill-out zone with children's play area. The communal areas - especially the long dining tables, lounge, barbecue, fire pit and picnic tables - as well as twinkling lights overhead all add to the fun holiday atmosphere.
The owners encourage guests to "enjoy Cabarita" and all the restaurants, cafes and businesses providing meals, snacks, drinks, takeaways and supplies.
What else could you want for a hassle-free break in your own little sanctuary, but still with the joys only camping can offer?
- The writer was a guest of The Hideaway Cabarita Beach.