Ring in the Season at Australia's Bells at Killcare
Australia’s Central Coast shelters private resorts, national treasures and spectacular scenery only 90 minutes from Sydney.
While Oprah and her entourage have been busy seeing the local sights, one place they missed out on is this pretty peninsula on the Central Coast of New South Wales; only 90 minutes drive from Sydney. Killcare is located on the tip of the majestic Bouddi Peninsula National Park with seven pristine beaches and many walking trails with stunning views of Broken Bay and the Pacific Ocean beaches. Bouddi is the Aboriginal word for heart and today the park remains a treasure trove of biodiversity and is home to possums, gliders, bandicoots, antechinuses, swamp wallabies and a variety of smaller native mammals, as well as over 150 bird species, including four species of threatened forest owls. The park is a living credit to the people who had the good sense and foresight to save it from development all those years ago, as well as all the National Parks and Wildlife staff and volunteers who work hard to maintain its values for everyone to enjoy.
Off the beaten track, but still within cooee (“shouting distance” for you non-Ozzies) of the city, this coastal haven is well worth exploring, and now thanks to one of Australia’s richest media moguls, John Singleton (aka ‘Singo’), who grew up in the area, there are two enviable boutique hotels to reside in, including his own personal beach house, now available for rent.
This award-winning European-style Manor hotel is the first of the Bells properties and re-opened in 2008 after a complete make-over by designer Chrissie Jeffrey who created a natty signature look using crisp nautical blues, whites and beige alongside elegant antique furniture, chic rattan sofas and sumptuous fabrics and cushions with boldly typed messages such as: Relax, Unwind and Enjoy. The result is spiffy, but without any pretense and reflects the relaxed beach atmosphere that personifies Killcare.
There are 11 tongue and groove coastal-style cottages nestled within the property’s beautifully landscaped gardens with walkways and fishponds interlaced between them. Guests can choose from two-story, deluxe spa villas or single-story, king spa suites. Each cottage is decorated in the Bells signature blue and white style and has its own private veranda, comfortably furnished as another outdoor room with adjustable roller blinds and screens for privacy and shade. Perfect for an afternoon snooze. Rooms are stocked daily with a generous breakfast hamper, which includes homemade bread, granola, jams and sausages from the chef’s kitchen, fresh free-range eggs from Bells own chooks, and selected seasonal fruits. They are also equipped with a self-contained kitchenette and each veranda has a barbeque grill to fry up the bacon and eggs in the morning while reading the morning papers al fresco. Take a morning dip in the 20-meter swimming pool to get the day started before heading out to explore the area.
Rates: Start midweek at AU$350 p/night and weekends $900 for 2 nights in a King Spa Suite or King Suite. Two story cottages go up to $450 and $1100. To book this hotel through our partners, Mr and Mrs Smith, click here and enjoy a complimentary Bellini cocktail at the bar between 5 and 6PM
Stefano Manfredi Restaurant
Dinner at Bells is not to be missed and is filled with passionate foodies. The Bells at Killcare restaurant is headed up by Italian-born Stefano Manfredi – one of Australia’s most celebrated and influential chefs and a leading exponent of Modern Italian cuisine. Using fresh organic products from his chef’s kitchen, ripe red tomatoes burst with flavor and pickled veggies, roasted beetroots and wickedly hot bell chilies filled with eggplant create a symphony of taste. Dishes like crisp pork cheek with mushroom ragu and sweetly buttery spinach and ricotta gnocchi; pan fried scallops with celeriac and roast garlic salsa, and pasta stracci with succulent osso bucco are all fantastically filling and satisfying, but be sure to leave room for desert. Our favorite: raspberry, pistachio and vanilla cassata.
Flooded with daylight, the bright and airy restaurant has a grand 70-seat dining room, which opens onto a massive outdoor dining terrace, along with two private dining rooms – the Wine Room and Garden Room – a cocktail bar overlooking the manicured front lawn (perfect for playing boules and croquet), and a cozy library to sink into after dinner with a good book and nightcap. Delicious bars snacks such as prosciutto with grissini, fish crudo and Moreton Bay Bug fritters are available from 5pm everyday.
Added Bonus! wandermelon subscribers and Mr and Mrs Smith members who stay at the hotel will be given a complimentary signed copy of Stefano Manfredi’s latest Book: Cook for All Seasons, as well as a Bellini cocktail between 5-6PM.
Bells at Killcare Day Spa
The newly completed spa is located in a fully restored, two story, pitched roof barn, located adjacent to the Manor House. Using Aboriginal inspired spa products by Li’tya (pronounced Li’Dya, meaning “of the earth) – made of the highest quality native plants and botanical extracts – guests can choose from a selection of signature treatments such as the Kodo or Gubbera Rocks Massage, the Yirri or Deep Ocean Renewal Facial, as well as special “journey” treatments like the Marri Marli (meaning “Great Man”), specially designed for men. The Dreaming or Ocean Dreaming full body anti-aging and renewing experiences are also notable for leaving you feeling refreshed, re-energized and balanced to the point of bliss.
Recently listed as Australia’s number one hotel in the ‘Hot Hotels of the World’ list compiled by Condé Nast USA, Pretty Beach House is the nearby sister property to Bells at Killcare and is a highly exclusive and secluded (adults only) guesthouse retreat set high up on the escarpment above Pretty Beach in a magical forest of twisted gum trees and native bush. Guests are welcomed as if in a private home, where all meals, snacks and drinks, including wines and champagnes, are included as part of the round-the-clock hospitality with VIP butler service.
With only three, one-bedroom pavilions surrounding the main house on the seven and a half-acre property, guests are able to disappear behind closed doors or should they desire, enjoy the company of other guests in an intimate house party setting. The hidden guest pavilions named Treetops, Bayview and Hideaway have discreet views through a mass of ancient angophoras and native eucalyptus down onto the sparkling Brisbane Waters. The pavilions have king bedrooms with separate dressing rooms, open-plan sitting areas oriented to take advantage of the views, as well as fully stocked bars and combustion log fireplaces for the cooler season.
The dining and lounging areas and bathrooms lead onto private decks with day beds and heated plunge pools. The main house, situated in the heart of the property, has an atrium-style dining and lounging area, intimate cocktail bar, wine cellar, open fireplace plus infinity pool and deck. Interiors complement the distinctly Australian bushland surroundings, featuring local sandstone and recycled timbers. The décor is simple and strong, with tub chairs in vintage leather, 1930’s travel trunks, hand crafted tables and fine Belgium linen. Local artists have taken advantage of the fallen angophora branches and created wooden sculptures featured throughout the property, adding more organic design elements.
Mealtimes at the house are a relaxed affair and can be enjoyed pretty much anywhere on the property – in the atrium dining room, privately within their own pavilion, in the wine cellar or al fresco on one of the terraces. The seasonal Italian-style cuisine is prepared by Stefano Manfredi’s staff and is available all day, ‘casalinga style.’ His chefs make all the sausages, bread, pastries, jams and granola in-house for breakfast, when you can savor traditional bacon too, which Stefano sources from his Italian butcher Pino Tomini-Foresti, as well as honey from local hives and home-made clotted cream served with fresh seasonal fruits.
Lunch may offer a selection of antipasti that includes salami, vegetables, sweet and sour peppers, eggplant caponata and local crayfish with garlic mayonnaise. In summer there is chilled soup such as tomato with saffron and asparagus with spring peas, while picnic hampers contain a delicious array of traditional Italian style panini plus fruits and tarts. Dinner is a more formal affair served in the atrium dining room with choices in first and second courses and a dessert changing on a daily basis. (Should guests decide on a tasting menu, this can be easily arranged.) There is also an extensive range of premium wines and spirits to choose from to complete the gastronomic experience. The underground wine cellar is stocked with rare old and new world wines that the sommelier is happy to open for you.
Rates: Range from AU$1700 to $2750 per night and include all meals, a selection of premium wines, champagne, spirits and daily-guided bushwalks. To book through Mr and Mrs Smith, click here.
THE JOHN SINGLETON BEACH HOUSE
This was the shack that Singo regularly summered at as a kid, before pulling it down and building his own million dollar dream beach house, right next to the Killcare Surf Life Saving Club featuring front row views of the spectacular Pacific ocean and the golden sands of Killcare beach. This mod-Aussie beach shack can sleep four couples, plus five children in bunk beds, as well as a separate shack for the teens or help. The house has several lounging areas and terraces and is cleverly designed to be able to split into two separate apartments should you need some privacy or peace and quiet from your beloved friends and family. For the more social types, there is an alfresco Tiki bar to get the party started, two kitchens, bathrooms galore, two laundries and even a lookout point, complete with a mini bar fridge for the cold beers after you’ve climbed the hill to check out the view. Manfredi and his team are also on hand should you need any help in the kitchen.
Rates: Start from AU$1000 a night midweek; $1500 a night weekends (minimum two-night stay), plus compulsory cleaning fee of $500. Daily housekeeping $250 a day. Linen and loads of towels included. Sleeps up to 12. For more information, phone: (02) 4360 2411 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CENTRAL COAST GUIDE:
Read our comprehensive Central Coast guide by clicking here to get insider info on activities ranging from bush treks to farmers markets!
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