Retreats with the X Factor

By Paula Yeoman

The mentors' hideaways were chosen for their privacy and glamour

Daniel Bedingfield, his sister Natasha and The X Factor's girls group were whisked off to the Crown Beach Resort in Rarotonga. Photo / Supplied
Daniel Bedingfield, his sister Natasha and The X Factor's girls group were whisked off to the Crown Beach Resort in Rarotonga. Photo / Supplied

Last week on The X Factor, we discovered which judge will mentor which category - Daniel Bedingfield has the girls, Ruby Frost the boys, Stan Walker the over-25s and Mel Blatt the groups. But who has what it takes to impress their mentors and make it to the live shows when the top 24 acts are whisked off to some of the most exotic locations in the Southern Hemisphere on tonight's show?

With so many amazing destinations to choose from, producers had their work cut out finding perfect retreats and matching them with a judge and their group.

All will become clear at 7pm tonight but Living can reveal exclusively the four hot spots where the top 12 will be selected for the next stage.

Rarotonga

Judge Daniel Bedingfield travels the farthest afield, revealing himself to contestants on beautiful Muri Beach in Rarotonga.

And to the surprise of his group, the girls, he does so by emerging from across the lagoon in an outrigger canoe.

Bedingfield is joined by his pop singer sister, Natasha, who is along to help select his final three in the stunning surrounds of the Cook Island paradise. The cast and crew check into the boutique Crown Beach Resort and Spa on the sunset side of the island in Arorangi.

"I couldn't have come to a more magical retreat," says Bedingfield.

The following day, it's down to the contestants to deliver the goods at Villa Maria, a luxury home nestled in the lush tropical Muri foothills on the western coast. Built across several levels, each floor has wrap-around balconies with million-dollar panoramic views of the crystal-clear turquoise lagoon and its little islands.

Villa Maria boasts three spacious bedrooms, all with king size beds and ensuites, and each with its own unique outlook. Only five minutes from Muri Beach, there is also a private pool built into the upstairs deck.

With so much jaw-dropping scenery producers are promising that this segment of tonight's show will sizzle.

And while fans of The X Factor won't know until the episode airs exactly which parts of the hillside hideaway are used for the girls' performances, promos this week have hinted at poolside antics, similar to those seen in X Factor USA - think back to last year when one of the members of Emblem 3 leapt with joy into Simon Cowell's pool at his palatial pad in Miami.

The final day is when the competition really gets hot and the six contestants fight for their places in the competition. This stage was filmed at the Cabana back at the Crown Beach Resort and Spa.

Here, it's the end of the road for three young singers but there are tears of happiness when the New Zealand-born Bedingfield reveals who has made the grade. He says he couldn't have made his decision in a more idyllic setting.

"The beauty of the Cook Islands is absolutely incredible."

Queenstown

It's a no-brainer that stunning Queenstown should make the retreat shortlist. But with no shortage of stunning locations in and around the city, producers had a tough time picking the ultimate retreat.

It was the $10 million super home, Jagged Edge, which sits majestically high above Glenorchy Rd with a dramatic birds-eye view of Lake Wakatipu and an unparalleled aspect of The Remarkables, that most impressed and was selected to host one judge and their group.

"No property showcases the beauty of Queenstown like Jagged Edge," says Line Producer Hayley Cunningham. "Its massive floor-to-ceiling windows and large infinity pool really showcase the landscape. It gives you an amazing take on the region."

The concept behind Jagged Edge is the work of Wellington structural engineer Warwick Webber, who wanted the futuristic glass mansion to be an extension of the surrounding landscape.

Carmen Hubber Design is responsible for matching the property's interior to its space-age exterior.

Often described as one of the most spectacular homes in New Zealand, we're told it includes three mezzanine bedrooms and bathrooms, 11m glass walls that run from the apex of the roof to the ground floor, and an infinity swimming pool.

It's no wonder the mentor paired with Jagged Edge was so excited on arrival at the mountain-top retreat that they nearly let the cat out of the bag on Twitter.

Sydney

It's just a hop, skip and a jump across the ditch, so Sydney was a must on the list of retreats. One group of contestants and their mentor jetted across the Tasman for a room with a view at the upmarket Shangri-La Hotel.

Although it's one of more than 20 hotels situated in the historic Rocks district of Sydney, producers settled on the Shangri-La for its unobstructed views of two of Australia's most iconic sights, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

It means there was no shortage of spectacular cityscape backdrops to choose from when filming contestants in action. And as a bonus, the hotel is just a stone's throw from some of the best shopping on the planet. It also houses the award-winning Altitude Restaurant on level 36, which offers more stunning views of the city and the harbour.

The restaurant is currently under the charge of Chef de Cuisine Matthew McCool and last year picked up the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide's Chef Hat award.

Shangri-La opened its doors in 1992 and consistently ranks as one of Sydney's most popular hotels.

It's also a hot spot for international celebrities who frequent Australia's entertainment capital, which gives a clue as to which mentor checks in.

Of course, that won't be confirmed until tonight, but Living understands the mentor caused such a stir when they touched down in Sydney they had to be snuck through the back door to avoid waiting fans and media.

Mahurangi

It's being kept under wraps until the big reveal tonight, but one group finds itself just a cool 35 minutes drive north of Auckland city at a privately-owned home perched above the waters of the Hauraki Gulf.

The exclusive seaside home, designed by architect Warwick Lee, was built six years ago aimed at maximising its physical location on the edge of Mahurangi Regional Park with its pohutukawa-lined bays

It has an impressive five bedrooms, five bathrooms, three living areas, a state-of-the-art multimedia entertainment system, swimming pool and spa. But it was the property's sweeping view of the park and the ocean, as well as the flexibility of its indoor and outdoor spaces, that won over The X Factor producers scouting for the ideal filming location.

"Weather in the north can be changeable, so it was important to be able to house contestants in a wet and a dry weather scenario," says Cunningham. "This home was a clear winner because of its amazing panoramic vista and open, wet-weather friendly spaces."

We are told, however, that the arrival of the mentor by helicopter and its rotor blades did cause a few logistical hiccups for the crew.

- Herald on Sunday

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