Santai Retreat, Casuarina, NSW

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Where Is It: Casuarina (near Kingscliff), Northern NSW.

Why Go: It’s a full service, Balinese-inspired apartment resort, with luxury self-contained accommodations.

Best For: Couples, or groups of friends, seeking a relaxed-yet-elegant getaway or a romantic escape.

Three Things We Loved: The lush pools, the spacious accommodations with open air verandas, the cuisine at Spice Den.

The Ultimate Factor: It’s a resort which has it all.


Managing Director of the Casuarina-based Santai Retreat, Carl Taranto, is heralding self-contained apartments as the future of luxury accommodation in Australia, and I have to agree that he’s on to something. This lovely, self-contained holiday resort is set back from the beach on the picturesque Tweed Coast, boasting a Balinese-inspired decor, quality service, an on-site Day Spa, and one of the best restaurants in this part of the world. This is holidaying at its best, as well as at its most convenient, combining the indulgent luxury and facilities of a five-star resort, with the convenience of your own self-contained apartment. Want a massage? You can have one in the spa, or by the pool if the weather permits. Want a fine dining Thai-fusion experience? Then book a table at the Spice Den. Want to enjoy a leisurely spa bath with a bottle of bubbly, or crank up the barbecue to watch sports? Well, you can do all of that too, and without a 'break-the-bank' price tag. The Indonesian word Santai means 'relaxed', and from the moment you arrive at the resort, the staff make it obvious that’s their aim for your stay. The traditional Balinese design also means that its spacious suites and terraces are built around gorgeous palm-fringed pools and lush gardens, offering an intimate environment in which to relax and unwind.

The Accommodation:

Santai Retreat has a six types of accommodations arranged across three floors around the pools. There are three types of King Studio Apartments, one of which has a ground level courtyard, another with an upper level veranda, and one with direct access to the pool areas. A fourth King Studio Apartment has an extra bedroom, and a flexible layout, ideal for two couples or families. Also in the lineup is two types of Two Bedroom Apartments. The standard offering is perfect for a family of four, or two couples, with features including a living room and an enclosed balcony. The Deluxe version is the largest accommodation in the resort, however, with two ensuite bedrooms, a spacious living and dining area, and a fully fitted kitchen making it ideal for entertaining, or anyone who simply wants more space and privacy. The decor fuses contemporary modern with Balinese touches, featuring plenty of marble tiling and glossy white furniture, with splashes of colour through artwork and cushions. Conveniently, parking is strictly allocated to your accommodation, and beneath the building close by, so you don’t have to trek far with luggage or shopping.

Where We Stayed:

Our home for a two-night stay was a spacious King Studio Apartment located on an upper floor towards the end of the pool area. The open plan style allowed for plenty of light, with one area seamlessly flowing into another; the kitchenette into the sitting area, and the sitting area into the sleeping area, yet with plenty of space in between. The kitchenette was well equipped with enough plates, glassware and cutlery for four people, and equipment including a bar fridge, plenty of pots and pans, a half-dishwasher, a two-ring stove top, a microwave, an electric kettle and toaster, and an Italian coffee machine with a starter kit of three complimentary pods. The comfortable king size bed was dressed with crisp, white linens, and the sitting area had a dark brown, comfy couch with one end comprising a day bed, nicely positioned opposite a large plasma TV complete with Foxtel/Austar channels. There was a small table in the corner with two chairs for eating inside if you wished, and outside, an outdoor setting with four chairs, two easy chairs, and an electric Weber barbecue. The open plan marble bathroom had a decent sized spa bath separating the bathroom from the rest of the studio, a double vanity unit, and double mirrored closets, one of which is home to a laundry facilities including a washer-dryer. At the far end of the area, nicely tucked away for privacy, is a toilet and large walk-in shower with a rainforest shower head. The studio comes equipped with fluffy towels, bathrobes on request, beach towels, a range of L’Occitane toiletries and a hair dryer, with a safe for all your valuables. 

What Else Is There:

Santai Retreat draws heavily on Balinese styling with a main draw card being its Grand Pool, which is surrounded by leafy cabanas, and a Balinese Garden Pool and an outdoor spa. There’s also a lovely Lanai where you can enjoy morning yoga, as well as an open air Guest Lounge overlooking the pools, ideal for reading a book or a magazine, or using your laptop to check your email using the resort’s complimentary WiFi access. A full-service resort in its own right, another highlight is the on site restaurant, Spice Den. It’s located at one end of the main pool adjacent to the main entrance, and is operated separately. Here you can enjoy lunch or dinner inside or al fresco by the pool; adding another tick for convenience, room service is available at no extra charge during normal restaurant hours. Check back for our full review of Spice Den soon. There's a small, full service day spa with three treatment rooms including two which open up to facilitate two people having treatments at the same time, and on the menu is a range of treatments and LaGaia skincare products. Read our full review of the Santai Retreat Spa. Beyond the walls of the retreat there’s Casuarina Beach, and the new Village At Casuarina Beach, which is literally a stone’s throw away. It’s the place to grab a coffee, something to eat, or stock up on supplies from the supermarket to enjoy in the privacy of your accommodation. The beachfront town of Kingscliff is a short drive away, with shops, cafes and restaurants and a little further afield is Byron Bay.

The Verdict

Santai Retreat is a gem of a resort which really ticks all the boxes. Its beach side location is just 15 minutes south of Gold Coast Airport or 30 minutes north of Byron Bay, and it has all the facilities you could want for a relaxing holiday, coupled with inspired decor and exceptional service which affords guests a touch of Balinese luxury without leaving Australia.

Santai Retreat is located at 9 Dianella Drive, Casuarina, NSW 2487,

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Joanna Hall