Travel blog on one-of-a-kind travel experiences

Smashing dinner drama at Queensland’s Wings Hinterland Retreat


The chefs lose the plot at a luxury THIRDHOME on the Gold Coast… Justine Tyerman reveals all. ‘Quel drame!’

I was deep in conversation with the lovely LJ (Laura-Jade) and Kellee when the chefs suddenly appeared from the kitchen and started smashing pots on the dining table – literally.

The pots shattered, spilling their contents onto large platters. Not satisfied with causing such mayhem, they then proceeded to envelop the whole table in mist.

Smashing dessert

A ‘smashing’ dessert! The chocolate pot and contents spilled onto the platter

‘Quel drame!’ I exclaimed, incredulous.

Having grabbed our attention, our Irish chef Gareth Keenan then explained the reason for his apparent aberrant behaviour.

The pots were white chocolate and the contents were meringue and freeze-dried berries served in a haze of dry ice. He wanted the dessert to make a lasting impression not just in taste but also presentation.

Dessert served in a haze of dry ice

Dessert was served in a haze of dry ice

Outstanding cuisine

It worked. We were riveted – and as soon as the mist cleared – extraordinarily keen to sample this wonderfully-theatrical, if somewhat unconventionally-served, dessert.

We demolished the lot, despite the fact we had already feasted our way through delectable canapés, hors d’œuvres in the form of a colourful, fresh, edible garden, and an extensive main course comprising 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; pan-seared chicken breast with boudin blanc, sauce soubise asparagus and pomme lorette.

An edible garden created by Gareth and Yves

An edible garden created by Gareth and Yves

Lunch at Wings Hinterland Retreat

Lunch by the pool

Lunch at the Wings Hinterland Retreat

. . . and more dry ice

The cuisine was spectacular… not to mention the superb Louis Roederer champagne that flowed all evening.

Louis Roederer Champagne

My glass was never empty

Wings Hinterland Retreat

The occasion was a ‘sleep-over’ at Wings Hinterland Retreat, marketed by the US-based THIRDHOME luxury home exchange and travel club. Highly sought-after as a venue for weddings, conferences and corporate catering, the retreat is 30 minutes inland from Australia’s famous Gold Coast.

Here’s how it went:

Wings Hinterland Retreat

The ship-shaped bow of Wings Hinterland Retreat on the Gold Coast

The lights of Wings Hinterland Retreat reflected in the pool at dusk

The lights of Wings Hinterland Retreat reflected in the pool at dusk

Wings Hinterland Retreat

The Jacuzzi and swimming pool with the high-rise buildings of the Gold Coast in the distance

The spacious entrance lobby-sitting room with a breath-taking view at Wings Hinterland Retreat

The spacious entrance lobby-sitting room with a breath-taking view at Wings Hinterland Retreat

Sunrise from the entrance lobby

Sunrise from the entrance lobby

Sunrise over the pool at Wings Hinterland Retreat

Sunrise over the pool at Wings Hinterland Retreat

Set on 10 acres of land with two giant wings that radiate from the centre, the house accommodates up to 26 guests with outstanding facilities including a huge kitchen, dining room, lounge, reception areas and balconies for entertaining, and a tennis court, swimming pool, outside Jacuzzi, sauna, full-sized billiard table and yoga on the lawn for recreation.

Wings Hinterland Retreat

Sunrise yoga on the lawn

I was one of a select group of journalists and second home owners invited there to learn about the phenomenal rise in popularity of THIRDHOME, courtesy of Laura-Jade (LJ) Hallion and Kellee Cruse from Monday Agency who represent the company in Australia and New Zealand.

Laura-Jade Hallion from Monday Agency

Laura-Jade (LJ) Hallion fom Monday Agency welcoming journos and second-home owners to Wings

Fascinating back story

The story behind THIRDHOME, established in 2008 by Wade Shealy from Tennessee, 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,

said 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 said.

His aim was to use a second home as the key to third homes… 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’.


Service filled a real need

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. The scale, trust and access it provides are unrivalled,” said Shealy.

Today THIRDHOME’s portfolio of member homes numbers 10,500 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 in Fiji, Matei Taveuni

A THIRDHOME in Fiji – Raiwasa Private Retreat in Matei Taveuni, one of 10,500 properties in the THIRDHOME portfolio. Now available to rent

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 keys on our bedside tables. No direct or simultaneous exchanges are required.

Fairfax and Roberts gold key symbolising access to THIRDHOMES

A Fairfax and Roberts gold key symbolising access to THIRDHOMES around the world

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.

New rental service launched

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 $US3 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.

Beyond extraordinary

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 of adventures are mind-boggling.

As Shealy said “THIRDHOME is determined to stay ahead of the trends and focused on providing five-star service and unparalleled offerings for those looking to stay and play in luxury style.”

The Wings experience, one of THIRDHOME’s 10,500 rental and home exchange properties, was an insight into the unparalleled opportunities and services available to members. We were totally spoilt with a gift of sleepwear from Australian lingerie brand Homebodii and a gold THIRDHOME key from Fairfax&Roberts.

Silky PJs by Homebodii on my pillow

Silky PJs by Homebodii on my pillow

It was such a blissful interlude in an otherwise busy schedule, a tranquil wilderness just half an hour away from the tourism hotspots of the Gold Coast.

As we departed in a fleet of Rolls Royce, Mustang and BMW vehicles supplied by Queensland Luxury Car Rentals, I found myself immersed in a plethora of stunning properties on the THIRDHOME website, planning my next ‘sleepover’…

Wings Hinterland Retreat

Limos at the door

I’ve always wanted to ski at Deer Valley, USA but then again my husband would love a round or two at the Argentario Golf Resort in Italy. I wonder if we could persuade the inimitable Gareth to join us… I’d love my husband to witness a re-enactment of his pot-smashing routine!

Chefs Gareth and Yves

Chefs Gareth and Yves creating magic in the Wings kitchen


Justine Tyerman stayed at Wings Hinterland Retreat courtesy of and Monday Agency.


About Author

Justine Tyerman is an award-winning New Zealand journalist, travel writer and sub-editor with 18 years' experience in newspaper and freelance work. She has worked as a news reporter, feature writer, designer of an award-winning Newspapers in Education programme and sub-editor on local, national, business, education and international desks.

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