Whether you want to slip between 1,000-thread count sheets or sleep under the stars, Australia’s ruggedly beautiful Blue Mountains promises the perfect family escape, with wildlife encounters and breath-snatching scenery on tap, less than three hours’ drive from Sydney (or request a chauffeured transfer and sit back and enjoy the views).
Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
Style Outback ultra-luxe
Setting No expanse spared
Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa takes luxury lodging by the scruff of its antipodean neck and transports it to a canyon-sized Jurassic Park of sun-blessed escarpments, creature comforts and sumptuous styling. With access to more than 4,000 acres of pristine wilderness, a world-class spa and private villas where in-room swimming pools come as standard, this is one special playground for kids and adults alike.
Sleeping A modern take on Australian heritage-style bungalows (with stained-glass door panels teamed with natural stone, timber and fabrics), all Wolgan’s suites sit demurely in a long non-view-hogging line. Pick of the bunch for families are the secluded two-bedroom Wollemi Suites, which have twin-bed-convertible second bedrooms and rollaways adding extra flexibility. The three-bedroom Wolgan Suite – where Smith reviewers Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton stayed with their three kids – also has its own kitchen and a third bedroom.
Activities Each suite has a private pool, plus there’s a curvaceous communal swimming pool for lapping and splashing. With a whole valley at their disposal, kids can run wild here, with bush craft and cooking, pony rides, mountain biking and stunt kite flying all on the dancing card. They can even have archery lessons. Wildlife safaris, including night adventures, give kids the chance to spot native animals, such as the rare albino wallaroos (think cute, white mini kangaroos).
Feasting Flaunting panoramic views, the Wolgan Dining Room is an impressive affair, with cuisine showcasing seasonal local organic produce, such as delicious venison, and a regional and international wine list as expansive as the vistas. It takes centre stage in the large barn-like homestead, with the more relaxed Country Kitchen, a provedores-style eatery with communal tables, downstairs. The resort encourages kids to adjust to an adult environment, out of respect for the privacy and enjoyment of all other guests. There’s no special children’s menu but no restrictions on when the smalls can eat in the restaurant, but there is flexibility to arrange early meals and room service.
Luxury Swag Camp
Style Intimate upscale bush-camp
Setting Scenic river valley
Experience a remote tranquil side of the Blue Mountains wilderness by sleeping alfresco at Luxury Swag Camp, the ultimate in glamping (glam camping). Far from the tourist herds, you and your brood will slumber on wooden decks in your own cosy swag (bedding roll) under an open-air canopy, with a personal guide-come-cook to cater to your every need.
Sleeping Three timber swag decks are scattered throughout the bush, each sleeping two adults or three children (aged four and up). Cosy swags (the bedrolls of choice for bushmen) are laid out on sleek king-size timber platforms with sheets, soft pillows and duvets for added luxe, but just a diagonal canopy for cover (you can roll it back to star-gaze or pull it over on chillier nights). There’s an old-fashioned fireplace beside it and pretty hanging hurricane lights to guide you to bed at night. Backing onto each deck is an ‘en suite’ hand basin and mirror, plus an open-air bush shower, chemical toilet and changing area, divided by screens. You’ll feel at one with nature here, but maybe a little exposed (luckily, with only whole-group bookings allowed, you should know your fellow campers).
Activities Kayaking, walking, fishing, watching platypus feeding, donut rides on the nearby river – the camp is heaven for kids, although you’ll need to keep an eye on them while swimming.
Feasting There’s no restaurant here – this is camping, albeit of the luxe variety – but there is a main lodge/dining area, shaded by a canopy on poles, with great views out to the mountains and river beyond. Chill out at the dining table while guide Mark knocks you up a full Continental or cooked breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tasty wholesome fare on offer includes barbecued steak, grilled salmon, lamb roasted in the camp oven and gourmet salads, as well as canapés and copious drinks and local wine.
To book a child-friendly Smith stay visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326. What’s more, BlackSmith membership is now free for life, so book through Smith to receive life-enhancing extras and exclusive offers at more than 850 hotels and holiday houses around the world.