Punished and Pampered… with Extreme Luxury
Contributor Justine Tyerman runs away from home and is subjected to a regime of extreme pampering as a punishment at THIRDHOME’s Wings Hinterland Retreat on the Gold Coast . . .
The Louis Roederer in my glass never seemed to diminish despite my conscientious sipping. The bubbles matched my effervescent mood as I stood by the pool watching the mauve sky catch fire in the sunset. It was so mild here on the winterless Gold Coast of Australia, I was wearing summer attire in the middle of June (that’s mid-winter ‘down under’).
Delectable bite-sized canapes drifted into my line of vision and popped into my mouth, courtesy of guest chefs Gareth and Yves who were busy performing culinary magic in the kitchen. I could hear musician Ondre Davis in the background playing well-loved tunes on his guitar, and the occasional call of a kookaburra from a eucalyptus tree.
Earlier in the day, I was collected from Gold Coast Airport in a gleaming black Rolls Royce and driven in sumptuous comfort to Wings Hinterland Retreat, 30 minutes inland from world-famous Surfers Paradise. Arriving at the ridgetop property set on 10 acres of land with 1,500 square meters of living space, I was astounded at the sheer size and scope of the place which looked more like a resort than a private home. The sprawling two-storey dwelling is now available as a holiday rental property, marketed by THIRDHOME, a US-based ultra-luxury home exchange company which has recently expanded to include five star vacation accommodation and travel adventures.
The name ‘Wings’ relates to the two massive arms that stretch out from the centre of the house, anchored by a magnificent pool that points towards the Gold Coast like bow of a ship. The clever design maximises the breath-taking view of the ocean shimmering in the distance and the surrounding tropical countryside. Wings has eight bedrooms, four with ensuites, which comfortably accommodate up to 26 guests. Bunks in three of the bedrooms make the place ideal for families with young children or teens or wedding parties. All rooms face towards the coast allowing early-waking guests to watch spectacular sunrises. The spacious kitchen with its huge semi-circular marble bench is perfect for both large-scale entertaining and intimate dining.
A Place of Peace and Tranquillity
Wings provides an enviable range of on-site relaxation and recreational activities including a tennis court, cantilevered swimming pool, outside Jacuzzi, 14-person cedar sauna, full-sized billiard table, and yoga on the lawn. It’s a place of peace and tranquillity, far enough from the hustle-bustle of the region’s tourism hotspots to allow guests to enjoy a wilderness experience, yet close enough to the coast to be on the beach at Surfers Paradise within 30 minutes.
As daylight faded, the aromas from the kitchen drew me inside to where the charming, highly-talented Gareth Keenan and his team were busy creating the finest culinary delights. The mouth-watering menu began with hors d’œuvres in the form of a colourful, fresh, ‘edible garden’ with tasty olive tapenade ‘soil’ followed by a variety of entrées including succulent cured pork belly with macadamia nut crumble, carrots, and burnt apple.
The choices of main courses had me in a tizz. What to choose? Sumac-crusted ocean trout with boudin noir crumble, mandarin gel and young radish; grass-fed lamb rump with smoked carrot, baby vegetables, dukkah and labne; pan-fried mushroom and pumpkin with potato and chickpea fritter, spinach and red pepper coulis; or pan-seared chicken breast with boudin blanc, sauce soubise asparagus, and pomme lorette? After much deliberation, I chose the chicken but managed to sneak a bite or two of the lamb thanks to my obliging neighbour. Both were delicious.
After a refreshing amuse bouche of white peach and green tea, Gareth presented a ‘forest-esque’ dessert of rhubarb, meringue, and freeze-dried berries served with stunning visual panache in a haze of dry ice. Even the white chocolate planter pots were edible. Gluten and lactose-free, vegan and pescatarian options were available at each course.
Delightful surprises also awaited us at bedtime – luxurious, silky PJs by Australian fashion brand Homebodii sat on my pillow, and an exquisite gold key pendant by Fairfax & Roberts lay on the bedside table, the full significance of which was revealed the following day.
Up, Up… and Away!
Early next morning, a bright red hot air balloon drifted across a sky painted a kaleidoscope of pinks and golds by the sunrise. After yoga on the lawn led by the inspiring yogi Todd Belot, a delectable breakfast was served with choices that again catered to all dietary needs. I relished all the fresh fruit, homemade bread, juices, yoghurts and muesli.
The morning drifted blissfully by with tennis, swimming, relaxing, lounging in the Jacuzzi, steaming in the sauna, and an artisan coffee-tasting experience by KoKo Coffee Roasters, while Gareth and Yves worked more wonders in the kitchen. Lunch was a series of elegant finger-food platters served cocktail-style outside by the pool and tennis court on a gloriously mild, mid-winter day. The ice-cold Fire Gully rosé from Margaret River was divine and guitarist-vocalist Nick Trovas provided splendid entertainment.
We were blessed with perfect weather, but on the rare occasion that it rains on the Gold Coast, Wings has ample space and facilities to cater inside for large numbers in the grand entrance foyer, three generous living areas, bar and dining room.
A highly sought-after venue for weddings, conferences and corporate catering, Wings is one of thousands of outstanding home exchange properties worldwide that are accessible to members of THIRDHOME, a US-based company established in 2008 by Wade Shealy from Tennessee. It’s also one of a growing number listed in THIRDHOME’s holiday rentals portfolio.
The THIRDHOME Story
The story behind THIRDHOME is a fascinating one. Shealy had spent 28 years in the luxury real estate business, helping clients realise their second-home dreams, when he came up with the concept of using those valuable but sometimes seldom-used assets to gain access to properties of an equal standard all around the world… as holiday homes or ‘third homes’.
“I learned that the main reason people hesitate to buy a second home in a single location is that they love to travel to other places too,” says Shealy. “I knew if I could create a way for second home-owners to leverage the investment they’ve already made, to stay in a variety of desirable destinations, I would really have something,” he says.
His aim was to use a second home as the key to a third home… and a world of travel opportunities. So in 2008 he created an ultra high-end home exchange club entitled THIRDHOME and came up with the term, ‘staying worldly’. Shealy knew the service fulfilled a real need but he had no idea how successful the business would become, how many lives would be changed… or how fast.
“THIRDHOME is unlike any other home exchange or travel club,” he says. “The scale, trust and access it provides are unrivalled.”
Today THIRDHOME’s portfolio of member homes numbers 10,400 luxury residences across the globe with an average value of $US3 million. In addition to private homes, many are located in the 75 world-class resorts and residence clubs that have selected THIRDHOME as a trusted exchange programme for their owners – like The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club.
THIRDHOME’s Key Currency
So how does it work? THIRDHOME has developed its own ‘key’ currency that allows members to manage their vacation plans, hence the golden Fairfax & Roberts key. No direct or simultaneous exchanges are required. Members earn ‘keys’ by depositing available weeks in their second homes into the THIRDHOME ‘bank’ and then go online, browse other properties within the club, choose a home and book their vacation. A service team is on hand around the clock to assist.
In an exciting new development, THIRDHOME has recently added vacation rentals to the mix meaning people without a luxury second home can access the keys to exclusive properties not previously available to the public. There are now over 300 stunning THIRDHOME properties available for rent in spectacular locations in 36 countries around the world. This number is set to rise exponentially as the popularity of using private residences for holiday accommodation gains international momentum.
I am assured the high standards that THIRDHOME is renowned for will be just as evident in the rental program as it has been in the home exchange service. The average value of rental properties is also $3 million, and each home is carefully reviewed for its desirable location and quality furnishings. Guests also undergo a comprehensive screening procedure.
Those wanting to list their homes on THIRDHOME’s rental website can do so without charge and with no commission when also signing up to the home exchange club. In so doing, they will become a member of a prestigious property and travel club that opens doors to thousands of magnificent homes around the world.
A Life of Adventure
Also just launched is THIRDHOME Adventures, carefully curated programs tailored towards guests who want to immerse themselves in their destination and have meaningful, long-lasting memories. Guests can go fly fishing in Patagonia, sail exotic Lamu Island by authentic dhow, become a castaway on the secluded island of Noasy Ankao in the Indian Ocean, sleep under the stars in the Dubai dunes, discover the culinary history of Japan, experience Italian culture, cuisine, and wines at Maestro Andrea Bocelli’s childhood estate and vineyards in Italy, spend time with the Maasai and Kipsigis communities in Kenya, or explore Iceland’s natural and cultural wonders, spectacular array of wildlife, migrating whales and breath-taking scenery. These trips are beyond extraordinary. The choices are mind-boggling.
As Shealy says: “THIRDHOME is determined to stay ahead of the trends and is focused on providing five-star service and unparalleled offerings for those looking to stay and play in luxury style.”
Sounds like me…
After a taste of ‘staying worldly’ and the extreme pampering Wings Hinterland Resort offers guests, we departed for Gold Coast Airport, as we arrived, in a fleet of gleaming Rolls Royce, Mustang and BMW vehicles supplied by Queensland Luxury Car Rentals. The 40-minute drive was all too short in the Roller!
About the Video: THIRDHOME is a US-based ultra-luxury home exchange company established in 2008 by Wade Shealy from Tennessee. The company has recently expanded into luxury holiday rental and travel adventures. Meet Wade in this video and sneak a look at some of the stunning THIRDHOME properties around the world . . .
Contributing Editor Justine Tyerman is an award-winning travel writer, journalist and sub-editor from Gisborne, New Zealand, with 20 years’ experience in newspaper and freelance work. Check out her work at www.just-write.co.nz and Tyerman’s Travels Facebook.