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Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, NSW

By:
Joanna Hall
 

Where Is It: Lovedale, Hunter Valley, NSW.

Why Go: It’s an all-encompassing, wine country resort which has it all. 

Best For: Stylish couples seeking a romantic escape, or friends looking to get away for a pampering or sporting weekend.

Three Things We Loved: The spacious villas, the spa sanctuary, the swimming pool.

The Ultimate Factor: Everything you need is on site including fine food - you don’t have to leave, except to go wine tasting.

Overview:

Although I’m usually looking for places to escape to with a romantic edge, more recently I’ve found myself being asked about, and going away on, girls’ weekend getaways. They’re times to celebrate big birthdays or engagements, other major life events, or just for friends to meet up somewhere special to kick back - without our boys in tow. This is exactly what my friend and I wanted to do recently; she’s a mum who hasn’t had a break since her boy was born two years ago, and living in different parts of NSW these days we don’t get to catch up as often as we used to, or we’d like to. So I went on the hunt for a resort in the Hunter Valley where we could enjoy some quality time together, but not have to venture far, for some indulgent pampering and fine dining. During my hunt, the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley was mentioned to me.

The property was ideal. It’s nestled in Lovedale, in the heart of the Lower Hunter wine country, near Cessnock and plenty of quality wineries, and just a leisurely two-and-a-half hour drive from Sydney. It also has two-bedroom, two bathroom villas, or three-bedroom options ideal for friends, and as for facilities it has it all; a fine dining venue, a large, full-service spa with a hairdressing salon, a casual eatery which doubles up as a craft beer pub, and a huge pool with plenty of sun loungers. And if you’re in the mood to be more active, there’s also world class golf, a gym and tennis courts. The property has undergone ongoing renovations in recent years, and now sports a purpose-built brewery and an expanded kids’ club. 

The Accommodation:

There is a great selection of rooms to choose from, depending on who you are travelling with, and your budget. Deluxe rooms are ideal for couples for a short escape, with each room featuring a private balcony or courtyard with picturesque views of the sparkling onsite pool, undulating hills or the manicured golf course. Standard amenities include spacious bathrooms with a full-sized bath and separate walk-in shower, a large TV, air conditioning, broadband Wi-Fi Internet access, a laptop-sized safe, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities and more. Moving up the list of options, resort suites are oversized and ideal for longer stays or for special occasions, with all the features of deluxe rooms, and the bonus of a separate lounge and dining area. And there are resort villas, huge two-bedroom accommodations catering for up to four guests, or coming with three-bedrooms and catering for up to six. Features include a fully furnished lounge and dining area, modern bathrooms with full-sized baths and separate walk-in showers, and well-appointed kitchenettes equipped with a microwave, stove, dishwasher and refrigerator.

Where We Stayed:

Our home for the night was a ground floor two-bedroom resort villa, which had a lovely bright and contemporary design, and a courtyard enjoying a leafy outlook. On entry there was a long hallway with a door to the master bedroom on the right, with its own generously sized en-suite bathroom. Continuing down the hallway you turned right with a choice of entering the open plan kitchenette-dining-living area, which swept down towards sliding doors and the courtyard, or heading left into the second bedroom, or the separate second bathroom. The lovely decor was uniform throughout the villa, with a contemporary edge, and featuring soft greyish coloured carpeting, a maroon and grey striped couch with easy chairs, and splashes of soft green by way of the plush, soft fabric cushions. There was a large blonde wood coffee table, and a blonde wood dining table with six soft covered chairs, and more splashes of colour with some lovely artworks dotted around the walls. The kitchenette had a well-disguised fridge, a microwave and there was plenty of space with more than enough utensils should you wish to cook for yourself. The master bathroom also had a lovely, full sized tub and a walk-in shower, while the second bathroom had just the shower; the design was simple and elegant with biscuit coloured tiles, and plenty of light. Both bedrooms had lovely lime coloured heavy drapes, and top notch beds when it came to comfort, complete with crisp white linens. This type of accommodation is ideal for "hanging out" which we did before and after dinner with a glass of bubbly, and with the second bathroom it suits girls or guys on a getaway, or two couples.

What Else Is There:

A big plus for anyone who doesn’t wish to venture far, whether you're travelling with friends or your significant other, is that the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley has literally everything you could want on site. The Lovedale Brewery is a relatively recent addition to the lineup of attractions at the property, a working facility brewing small batches of craft beer by hand. It’s also next door to the Lovedale Bar and Restaurant, a vibrant spot on the ground floor of the main building, with views of the golf course, and where you can sample Lovedale’s range of beer in a casual and relaxed environment. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily, with a wide range of food options to suit all tastes, from pulled pork sandwiches and other burgers, to pizzas, salads including a chicken caesar, plates for larger appetites from lamb shanks to pasta. For fine dining, however, you can head upstairs to the Redsalt Restaurant, which also has views of the golf course, swimming pool and surrounds, and is famous for use of fresh, local produce, top notch wines and creative cuisine. Redsalt is also open for breakfast daily. Check out our separate review of Redsalt Restaurant. 

Another major drawcard of the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley is a full-service, Ubika Spa, which has an indulgent menu of treatments from massage and facials to beauty services including a hair and nail salon, as well as the bonus of a Spa Sanctuary and VIP Suites ideals for couples or friends. I’ll be writing a separate review of Ubika Spa so check back here soon. Other resort facilities include a huge swimming pool with plenty of sun loungers, and a lineup appealing to fitness lovers, with a well-appointed gym and floodlit tennis courts, as well as a basketball court and a volleyball court. If you fancy hiring a bike and exploring the resort and surrounding wine country, you can do that too. Ask the team and they’ll even arrange a BBQ picnic for you to enjoy. The Kidzone children's club has been expanded to include trains and carousels, and if you fancy a spot of shopping you can visit Amber’s of Lovedale for essentials, clothing, wine, groceries and more. And finally there’s golf, thanks to an 18-hole championship course surrounded by hills, lakes, and views of the Brokeback Mountain Range. Here you can play golf, buy the latest golf gear, or learn how to play. Golf packages are available to combine with your stay.

The Verdict:

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley proved to be an ideal choice for our girls’ getaway for many reasons. For one, our two-bedroom villa enabled us to enjoy quality time together yet have our own space when needed. And with everything on site, including the spa and fine dining, we didn’t have to venture anywhere else. As a result, we were able to pack much into our overnight stay. Next time we will have to stretch ourselves a bit further and add some wine tasting to our lineup of activities. If you're planning a stay here any time of year, or for the annual Hunter Valley Wine Festival in June, you won’t be disappointed.

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley is located at 430 Wine Country Drive, Lovedale, NSW, 2325, 02 4991 0000, www.crowneplazahuntervalley.com.au. The hotel is part of IHG, with packages ranging from a spa day with lunch, to golf packages which can be added to your accommodation.

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