I think that we can all agree that it has been a rough two years.
Lockdowns and home-schooling have left us all exhausted and in desperate need of a holiday. With so much uncertainty around state and international borders, I know that a lot of us are nervous to venture too far.
So I started researching the perfect resort…
We had a few criteria:
No flying or crossing any borders (we didn’t want to risk having to cancel)
Not too far from Sydney (we wanted to spend as much time relaxing as possible!)
A kids’ club (after spending so much time together, this was a must for all of us! I wanted to spend time with my husband, knowing that the kids were also having a fun time)
Great food and drinks at the resort, and dining had to be kid-friendly.
And then I found it – a unicorn – The Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley!
Just two hours from Sydney in the beautiful Hunter Valley, with a kids’ club that is open all school holidays and every weekend, it was the perfect destination for us – so perfect that we extended our stay (twice!).
Let’s start with my absolute favourite feature of a resort – the food – and more specifically, the breakfast buffet!
If I could only choose one meal for the rest of my life, it would be a resort buffet breakfast and the Crowne Plaza HV’s was top notch.
As well as all the usual faves, the restaurant kitchen has chefs waiting to cook eggs however you like, and they were perfect every single morning.
I was so impressed with their fresh juice station (which I have never seen before) and everything was spotlessly clean, fresh and refilled regularly, which is so important in a buffet.
The resort has a few options for lunch and dinner and we tried them all: the Redsalt restaurant, the Lovedale Bar + Grill, room service, and eating by the pool (there are QR codes you scan to order online and they bring the food out to you!).
RedSalt is a fine dining restaurant with amazing food – they have been awarded Chef’s Hats for the last two years – and happily it is very family-friendly.
We booked for when they opened (5.30pm) and we were given a table by the window which looks out over the pool and waterpark, and views of an incredible thunder storm we were lucky enough to see.
They have a kids’ menu, and the boys were given colouring-in sheets and crayons, and were made to feel very special by the lovely staff who didn’t bat an eyelid when my 5-year-old asked for his sauce in a separate bowl to his pasta.
They use fresh, seasonal foods with a sustainable, farm-to-plate philosophy, and our meals were incredible.
They do a 5-course degustation menu with paired wines, or 2-and 3-course options. We chose the 3-courses, and every plate that came out was beautiful, fresh and so tasty.
We have taken the kids to fancy restaurants in the past, but this was such a relaxed, fun night out that they will remember it for a long time!
Lovedale Bar + Grill
The Lovedale Bar + Grill is the main eatery in the resort, and its menu covers all your favourite bistro classics. You can order the food to be eaten in their lovely air conditioned restaurant, delivered to your room, or out to your seats by the pool.
They have a kids’ menu, which includes a drink and an ice cream, as well as great snacks, pizzas and burgers, perfect for eating by the pool!
They are also home to the Sydney Brewery, who make a range of craft beers from refreshing lagers to dark porters. You can order their beers in cans to take away, on tap at the bistro, or get a tasting paddle to try a few!
After seeing photos online, we were so excited to head straight to the pool and waterpark!
The pool is huge and very kid-friendly. It’s a metre deep in the shallow end and the deep end goes up to 1.6m, as well as having a very shallow pool for tiny kids.
The waterpark is next level amazing!
It has a selection of waterslides, as well as water cannons, jets and buckets, but the highlight is the giant grape bucket (it is the Hunter Valley, after all!) that fills with water and then dumps it over everyone!
The pool and waterpark are both heated, so fun all year round.
There is also a 25m adults’ only pool, perfect for when the kids are at the…
The Water Dragons Kids’ Club is a big indoor and outdoor centre full of all kinds of activities and the loveliest staff who make sure the kids are well looked after.
Our boys went every day and loved it!
They do all sorts of games and craft, watch movies, eat snacks and have the most amazing time! It is available for kids aged 3 to 12 and costs an additional fee.
The resort also has a little train (the Dragon Express) that my kids loved riding in around the resort every afternoon.
And we loved having some time away from them – we only left the resort to visit wineries once, the rest of the time we stayed and relaxed. It was heaven!
We stayed in a 2-bedroom villa, which was perfect for our family of four. There are also 1- and 3-bedroom options, as well as a kids’ suite with bunks that looks really fun.
Our villa had a kitchen and two bathrooms (one with a bath), as well as a beautiful view of the sunset over the lake from our balcony. It was spacious and had everything that we needed for our stay.
We had the most amazing stay and will definitely be back!
If you want a fun, relaxing family holiday, we definitely recommend the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.
Book your kids into the kids’ club at the concierge – they also give out zooper doopers!
Reserve your table at the Redsalt restaurant online
You don’t need to worry about bringing pool towels as they give them to you at the pool.
You can buy beers from the Lovedale Bar + Grill and take them back to your room – including schooners!
Most of the wineries require you to book your tasting online. We were able to find a couple that we could book on the day, but many were booked out, so make sure you get in early!