CAST your mind back to childhood camping trips and the feeling of being cocooned inside your sleeping bag out in the bush - then fast forward to Alure at Stanthorpe where the luxury five-star "glamping tent" is just one big cocoon.
I had the good fortune to be invited for a night's stay in Alure's insulated 56sq m African safari tented villa, complete with timber deck and outdoor spa, where the term "roughing it" simply doesn't apply.
I arrived late-ish in the day to be greeted by my friendly host Marion, who directed me to my secluded bush bolthole where I let myself in just as a light shower of rain began to fall.
Seclusion is the key word at Alure, with the villas spaced a generous 40 metres apart. After plonking my bag on the deluxe king size bed - and pouring myself a glass of local sav blanc in the European kitchen - I couldn't help but slide into a deck chair and take in the tranquillity of the hilltop locale and native bushland.
Marion popped in a short time later with my provisions for the night - which included a scrumptious-looking antipasto platter and pasta with prosciutto, Italian vegetables and pesto - and then I was left to wallow in the serenity of my giant cocoon.
My next stop was the private courtyard and heated spa, into which I dipped just as the sun was starting to set, with aforesaid glass of wine within easy reach.
Feeling suitably de-stressed after a big week at work, I alighted the spa feeling a little peckish. After a nibble from the antipasto platter I decided to check out the ensuite, with its spacious shower area, luxury toiletries, hairdryer and GHD hair straightener.
I then ensconced myself in what was possibly the softest, fluffiest bathrobe I have ever donned and headed back out to the deck to listen to a few tunes.
After some more leisurely grazing on local olives and cheeses, cured meats, tapenade and quince paste from the Bramble Patch I heated up my pasta. Then it was off to the leather lounge and chaise where I curled up with my delicious dinner and a re-filled glass of wine and watched a DVD on the 50" plasma TV.
But before too long the allure of the four-poster bed, complete with side curtains, became too much and I slipped between the linen to enjoy the best night's sleep I'd had in months.
Alure offers a breakfast basket with freshly-baked bread, milk, cereal, muesli, yoghurt with berry compote, apple juice, croissants and condiments, of which I partook in my robe and complimentary slippers out on the deck.
Marion will also happily supply you with a gourmet breakfast hamper with all of the above plus bacon, Italian sausages, free-range eggs, mushrooms and vine-ripened tomatoes for only $20. Stanthorpe's restaurants and cafes are only a short drive for dinner and breakfast, but to be honest once you've entered your villa/cocoon it's damn hard to leave.
Marion will also arrange flowers, champagne and any other special requests you may have with a view to making your love interest swoon. Add to that no kids and no pets, and Alure is the perfect retreat for couples either getting to know each other, or simply rekindling the flame with some quiet, quality time. If this is the future of camping, then count me in.
LUXURY CAMPING & COUPLE'S RETREAT
Villas: Alure has two luxury villas and a luxury tented villa. Each accommodates one couple per villa/tent.
Cost: Rates range from $260 to $495 a night.
Included in tariff: Continental breakfast and kitchen essentials. Visit alurestanthorpe.com.au.
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