Posh Sydney houses

How to rent some of Palm Beach's most exclusive holiday homes
Why spend your next holiday crammed in a hotel suite when you can rent a multimillion dollar mansion on SydneyÆs Northern beaches and make yourself at home? Spending a week or two in the lap of luxury and enjoying 180 degree views of the ocean is easier and more affordable than you might think. In fact there are more than 40 beautiful houses available for short-term rental in and around Palm Beach, making it the ideal place for some extended R&R. Where is it? SydneyÆs salubrious northern peninsula is laced with white sandy beaches and rocky headlands. The quintessential playground for the rich and famous, the peninsula begins at Newport and reaches north past Bilgola Beach, Avalon Beach, Whale Beach and finally Palm Beach and the hammer-shaped Barrenjoey headland. The energetic surf beaches on the east side of the peninsula are complemented by the still bays and inlets of Pittwater on the west where the cityÆs yachties play at the weekend. Palm Beach is 45 kilometres from the CBD, a journey which takes about an hour by car. WhatÆs on offer? The small beach cottages that once typified this area have been replaced by large palatial homes that cling to the headlands and border the sandy shores. The majestic homes that have been designed by SydneyÆs top architects capture the views. The wealthy owners of these homes use them occasionally, but for most of the year they are vacant, and are made available for short-term rental. Holidaymakers can choose a property based on a number of criteria such as location, bedroom and bathroom configuration, proximity to the beach, in-ground swimming pool, privacy and screening, or suitability for small children. What you want and when you travel determines the price. Homes on Palm BeachÆs more exclusive streets (Ocean Road, Pacific Road, Florida Road, Iluka Road and Sunrise Road) cost between A$10,000 ($7,400) a week in winter and A$25,000 a week in summer, while homes in other locations cost between A$3,000 and A$15,000 per week depending on the season. The houses are fully self contained so, much like a hotel, all you need to bring is your luggage and your toothbrush. The standard luxuries include ducted air-conditioning and heating, plasma TV screens, satellite television, DVD and VCR players, and surround-sound systems. Most also have broadband internet connection and a PC or laptop for your use. Not all have in-ground pools, but many have a games room complete with exercise equipment, board games and billiard tables. Fresh linen and towels are supplied and the kitchens are fully equipped with crockery and utensils and the latest appliances. But if cooking is not your thing then the agents can help by hiring a chef for the week or organising for meals to be delivered. In fact, almost anything can be arranged, says John Bryant at Northern Beaches Holidays, an agent who specialises in short-term rentals in the area. ôYou tell us what you want and we take care of it. We can arrange maids, nannies and chauffeurs. We can stock your cupboards with essential food items prior to arrival, and we can arrange for the house to be serviced daily or weekly or not at all depending on how much privacy you require.ö Staying in Palm Beach offers privacy and discretion because you are living and holidaying amongst like-minded people. Some of the countryÆs most influential families own properties in the area, including the Packers, the Walkers, the Roberts-Thomsons and Sam Chisolm. And the holidaymakers that are attracted to the area are equally as prominent. Comedian Billy Connolly is a regular visitor, as is human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson. Others who have visited in the last 12 months include BP chief executive Lord Browne, British violinist Nigel Kennedy, and U2 frontman Bono and his family. Name: Sunrise Where: Palm Beach Price: A$6,500 to A$25,000 per week Rooms: 5 beds, 4 baths Is this Palm Beach or Malibu? Sunrise offers a real taste of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Surrounded by palatial homes and sitting just above the beach, the house has a pool, spa baths, ducted heating, two living areas and plenty of artwork adorning the walls. This house would be great for an extended family, or for a couple who like to be seen. Name: Illowra Where: Whale Beach Price: A$3,000 to A$15,000 per week Rooms: 3 beds, 4 baths One of the few houses with a pool, Illowra is a secluded tri-level house at the end of a street and a long private driveway. It captures the north sun overlooking Whale Beach and has an interesting hexagon design. The day Private Capital visited we saw a pod of dolphins frolicking off the beach. John Lord from Deep Purple has stayed at this house. Name: Tranquility Where: Palm Beach Price: A$3,000 to A$15,000 per week Rooms: 3 beds, 3 baths, plus cabana This timber and stone house is perched high over the south end of Palm Beach and looks north. It is quiet and secluded and has been designed with the natural surroundings in mind so that it blends into the trees and rocks. The motorised wooden louver shutters that wrap around the decks open with a flick of a switch. The dTcor has an Asian flavour. Name: Sunsets Over Pittwater Where: Palm Beach Price: A$3,000 to A$12,000 per week Rooms: 5 beds, 4 baths Not as flashy as some of the other houses, but big and well-appointed, Sunsets offers holidaymakers a feel for the other side of the peninsula. The house faces west over Pittwater and has its own boathouse and jetty that can berth a 60-foot boat. The games room has a snooker table and projector screen TV. Name: Amazing Where: Newport Beach Price: A$2,500 to A$10,000 per week Rooms: 4 beds, 4 baths This brand new home is out of the pages of Vogue. Perched on the headland between Newport and Bilgola, the house has been finished with top-of-the-line fittings and furniture. It is a big home covering three levels and offers views over Newport Beach from every room. Being closer to the city, Amazing is sometimes used by company executives to hold offsites and planning sessions. What to do in the area: Holidaymakers are attracted to the area mainly for its beaches. Sydney is a great escape from the winter chills of the northern hemisphere, particularly over the Christmas period. At this time of year, the sea temperature averages about 21 degrees Celsius and the outdoor temperature hovers around 30 degrees Celsius. But if you want a break from lying in the sun, or from soaking up the opulence of your palatial home, then there is a number of other things to do. One essential experience is to take a lunchtime flight on a sea plane from the wharf at Palm Beach. The plane takes the scenic route along the peninsula and then lands on the waters of the Hawkesbury River right outside the Cottage Point Inn restaurant. After a great meal of chilli salted cuttlefish and sugar cured Atlantic salmon the plane drops you back home. There are five golf courses either on the peninsula or within a short drive. The courses at Mona Vale and Bayview offer a challenging 18-hole game, and there is a nine-hole course in Palm Beach. Further away is the world-class championship course at Terry Hills or the Long Reef course that covers the entire headland near Collaroy. Boating types can arrange an offshore fishing expedition through Avalon Deep Sea Fishing Charters or, in winter, can take in some whale watching. Bareboats yachts and power boats are available for hire from Bayview or Akuna Bay, and if youÆre staying at Sunsets Over Pittwater (see above) then you can moor the boat right at the foot of the house. After hours, there are plenty of places to eat out. Fine dining is offered at Barrenjoey House, Beach Road Restaurant and the award-winning JonahÆs overlooking Whale Beach. The nearby suburb of Avalon also has plenty of take-away restaurants and casual street cafes where you can grab a good coffee. How to book: There are three agents located in Palm Beach that can help, and each has a website displaying the properties that they represent. Northern Beaches Holidays specialises in short term rentals (www.nbholidays.com.au), and then there is LJHooker Real Estate (www.ljhooker.com.au/palmbeach) and Raine & Horne Real Estate (www.raineandhorne.com.au/palmbeach). Make sure you pick an agent that is responsive to your enquires, can help with local information and recommendations, and can add special touches like providing tips on golf courses or arranging kids activities. The Christmas period and long weekends like Easter are the busiest periods so early bookings are essential. Likewise, the summer months are busier than the winter months. The basic rules in the rental contracts specify no pets and no weddings or large parties. Clients need to pay a refundable deposit which usually equates to one-weekÆs rental.
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