430 Wine Country Drive,
Lovedale, Hunter Valley, NSW
It's hard to know where to start with this lovely place. The minute you leave the main road and weave your way through the manicured golf course and beautiful gardens towards the main building it seems like you're in another world - and a very pleasant world at that!
This place is more than just a place to stay - a lot more than that in fact! It has so much there - luxury accommodation, golf course, sprawling pool, function rooms, volleyball court, several bars and their own brewery even, and of course lovely food in several spots.
Then there's the wineries of the beautiful Hunter Valley right there on your doorstep to wander around by day - sheer bliss!
They seem to have everything here, from giant chess and chequer boards in a lovely outdoor seating area through to comfy lounge areas inside to sip a drink and relax.
They also have a day spa downstairs and if you're looking for something a bit more adventurous there's helicopter rides and segway tours available right there.
Ours was spectacular with plenty of space, light and comfort.
With its own lounge room, dining table and the benefits of a spa bath in the massive bathroom it was almost a pity to leave it to explore!
And lets not forget the view right outside our balcony door.
The grounds here are manicured and simply beautiful.
The lush green lawns are kept so well and there's so much space here - it just seems to stretch into the distance in every direction. Its certainly worth spending a little time exploring - we did.
There's just so much to do here - a weekend is almost a teaser! After exploring the grounds we decided to pop in to the Lovedale Bar and Restaurant for some refreshments - a drink to be more specific!
As they also have the Lovedale Brewery and Distillery next door it seems only right to have one of their drops!
We sat at a table on high bar stools and looked out over the lagoon-like pool and forgot the day to day issues we all have. It's amazing how quickly you can relax when you're in the right place.
Then we felt energised and decided to have a game of table tennis on one of the tables available.
If you prefer pool that's there as well.
As food lovers, a visit to Redsalt, the signature Crowne Plaza restaurant, was a must.
Redsalt is probably best described as fine dining quality in a slightly more relaxed environment. You still get the same quality of service you'd expect but as you'd expect in a holiday setting the overly formal edge isn't there. They have a great reputation for their food and we were keen to sample it!
The caramelised leek and goats cheese tart just sounded so good on the menu.
It came topped with watercress and soft herb salad and a lovely drizzle of balsamic around the pastry tart. The pastry was beautiful - which is always the first test - and the filling lived up to my hopes as well.
It arrived beautifully presented on an elongated slate tile dotted with heirloom tomato, avocado puree and verjus.
This was a more delicate starter than my more substantial one - and it also tasted just as good as it looked.
I fancied something hearty for my main course so grabbed the 500gm dry aged T bone. Dry ageing isn't that common these days and it's nice to see some places still use this more traditional method. In this case, the fact that the meat was 120 day grain fed Certified Angus with a marble score of 2+ didn't hurt either! It was a lovely piece of meat with full flavours that was cooked medium rare as ordered. The hefty potato dauphinoise was lovely as well.
Mlady went again for something a bit lighter - although still substantial. The handmade linguine with basil pesto, zucchini, sun dried tomatoes, rocket and grana padano appealed to her inner vegetarian. It actually turned out to be very filling with plenty of tangy flavours that worked well together.
A decent sized green leaf salad with herbs and dijon mustard vinaigrette went well with both main courses.
It was hard to concentrate on the food at times when we also had the opportunity to gaze out over the pool/lagoon. As the sun set the pool lights came on and it looked even more spectacular.
It was rich, gooey and decadently delicious and came with maraschino cherries and vanilla cocoa nib gelato.
If you want a rich dessert to finish your meal - and many of us do - then this is for you.
It was described as also having textures of raspberry, which confused me a bit until it arrived.
This turned out to be a great mix of different raspberry treats across the plate that went nicely with the lemon tart but were also just as nice on their own.
Breakfast the next morning was again in
Redsalt - gazing out again over the pool. It's busy here at breakfast, really busy, yet everything seems to move seamlessly. They have plenty of staff on board which clearly helps a lot. Whilst it's a buffet you can also order for a list of cooked options and the eggs Benedict was always going to be my choice. The two perfectly cooked eggs on smoked salmon and muffin halves were absolutely delicious!
If you prefer to simply visit (and revisit) the buffet selection you won't be disappointed either. There's a huge selection of both hot and cold food ranging from fruits, cereals, nuts and seeds, juices, pastries, breads and of course all the cooked foods you would expect here.
They also have a dedicated coffee station with its own barista - because we all know how important a good coffee is to start the day.
Of course once you decide to venture outside the luxurious surroundings of the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley you're in, well, the beautiful Hunter Valley. Now it's time to sample wines, olives, chocolates, cheeses and other goodies - and it's all virtually at your doorstep. Around every corner there's another great place to drop in on - don't be shy. We love this place - and clearly many others do too. As it's so close to Sydney its great for a weekend or a fully blown holiday!
It's another world that is really worth experiencing. The room was great and the food was delicious but the most impressive thing is simply the grandeur of the place. Simply amazing. Once tried, you'll be back!
Sir and Mlady were guests of the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. Special thanks to all the lovely people there that looked after us so well - it was impressive. Thanks also to Lea Nguyen of Pulse Communications for arranging our visit so professionally.
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