Thinking about a mini-break with your family? You don’t need to go far to enjoy a relaxing and fun-filled family getaway at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley that both parents and kids will love.
A Family Mini-Break at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley is easy to get to, just a 45 minute drive from Newcastle or over 2 hours from Sydney but hard to leave. Nestled in the heart of Wine Country, this family-friendly resort offers activities for every member of the family such as the Water Dragons Kids Club, swimming pool, 18-hole golf course, on-site Lovedale Brewery and Ubika Spa.
We’re visiting Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley for a short family break before school starts. It’s our first visit to the resort and we’re keen to check out its family-friendly credentials. As we arrive, we find the resort teeming with families. It’s school holidays and it’s obvious that the resort is a popular spot for vacationing families.
We’re immediately handed a Summer Holiday program guide which lists the many activities and events around the resort. Face painting, card making, water play, handball and putting competitions are just a few of the kids activities on offer. We also receive a What’s On guide which features resort vouchers for Redsalt, Ubika Spa and the Crowne Cinema BBQ Buffet. In fact, to my surprise, every area of the resort is welcoming to families from the golf academy to the spa and even the upscale fine dining restaurant Redsalt. It’s obvious that much thought has gone into making the resort a haven for parents and kids.
We check into our villa accommodation, a short 100 metre walk from the main hotel complex. Within the resort, there’s a range of accommodation options in the resort from hotel guest rooms to two-bedroom and three-bedroom villas available to fit every budget and preference. We’re staying in a two-bedroom villa with views over the scenic resort grounds.
The villa is extremely spacious with ample room to spread out. Each villa features a master bedroom with ensuite, separate lounge and dining and a kitchenette.
Having kitchen facilities are especially important when you’re travelling with babies and children. Guests visiting the resort with small children may request a portacot, high chair, baby bath and baby nappy bins subject to availability.
Both of the bedrooms feature comfortable beds, wardrobe space, a desk and a TV.
My daughter quickly makes herself at home switching on her TV and unpacking some pencils and paper to draw.
I especially appreciate the comfort and convenience that a villa affords. I’m already thinking ahead to our next visit and am planning to get a three-bedroom villa to split with another family or grandparents.
After relaxing, it’s time for my daughter and I to head to Ubika Spa for our Mother-Daughter spa treatment. Conveniently located in the main building, Ubika Spa is a luxurious retreat which includes both hair and beauty services and features an in-house hairdresser. The spa features 16 treatment rooms and offers many different treatments for both men and women to restore and relax. If you’re short on time, choose from express treatments or if you have more time for pampering, choose from some indulgent spa packages.
There’s even specific packages for mothers to be or brand new mums designed to spoil and relax you. One of my favourite areas in the spa is the Sanctuary Suite which features a spa and sauna and is perfect for groups. Girls weekend away anyone?
Our spa treatment today involves a pedicure for me and a kids mani-pedi for Miss 5.
I can’t tell who is enjoying the experience more. My pedicure is a wonderfully relaxing experience and once dry, my toes look fabulous.
While we’ve been in the spa, my hubby has been touring the Lovedale Brewery with Senior Brewer, Ian Weeks.
The onsite 1800 litre brewery is capable of brewing two batches per day for thirsty punters. In fact, there are four dedicated tanks that serve directly to the Lovedale Bar, providing brewery fresh beer.
The Lovedale Brewery brews a range of preservative free beers from lagers to rich oatmeal porters. Some of the beers include Paddo Pale, Surry Hills Pils, Darlo Dark, Pyrmont Rye IPA and Potts Point Porter.
When I question my husband as to his favourite, he nominates the Lovedale Lager which has received a few awards including Best European Lager in Show and 2014 Australian International Beer Award. Intrigued, I have a few sips and agree with his opinion that it’s a worthy brew.
It’s not long until our tummies starts to rumble and it’s time to head to Redsalt, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley’s signature restaurant. Even though it’s fine dining, children are welcomed and my daughter is warmly greeted by the waitstaff on duty. One of them even brings pencils and colouring in sheets to keep her occupied. Looking around the restaurant, I’m pleased to see that there are other families with babies and young children dining in here as well.
Hamish, one of Redsalt Executive Chefs, pops out the kitchen to introduce himself and elaborate more about the menu. He explains that menu ingredients and wine are locally sourced. He takes pride in the many varieties of steak on the menu and advises that they’re extremely tender. He advises that there’s also a special menu for vegetarians as well as one for kids. He points out that the kids menu has a focus on healthy offerings and menu items are smaller and simpler portions of the main menu. For example, my daughter’s fish and chips uses the same fish, snapper as the main on the menu.
With so many delicious dishes on the Redsalt menu, it’s a challenge to choose but we eventually do. My husband opts for a entree of scallops and a main of grilled Wagyu loin, the feature dish of the menu while I choose the snapper fillet. The scallops are divine with a delicious sweetcorn and thyme puree.
It’s without a doubt one of the best meals that we’ve eaten. Beautifully presented, the meals are perfectly cooked and are delicious. The Wagyu is incredibly tender and flavoursome and it’s easy to understand why this is a Feature Dish. The meat just melts in your mouth.
However, the snapper is equally as tasty and I’m glad I chose it. It’s perfectly seasoned and grilled.
My daughter is equally as smitten with the snapper and polishes off her portion of fish and chips.
I manage to find space for dessert after spotting the mandarin chocolate mousse cake on the menu. It’s absolutely divine and worth breaking my New Year’s no-sugar resolution.
Throughout our dinner, the wait staff have been superb. Their service is warm and friendly and they fuss over my child. It’s a lovely treat to be able to enjoy fine dining with children in tow.
As we leave the restaurant, I stop to say thank you to the chefs for an outstanding meal.
Although we were planning a sunset swim or a stroll through the golf course, our plans are dashed due to a summer thunderstorm. Instead, we head to Crowne Cinema in the Conference & Event Centre. (This new building was the venue for the recent Hi-5 concert and there’s more family events planned for the future). During these school holidays, various kids movies (rated PG) have been screening each night and tonight it’s the Australian movie ‘Oddball’. We grab some spare bean bags and join other families watching the movie. On selected nights, a BBQ buffet dinner is set up in conjunction with Crowne Cinema enabling families to enjoy dinner and a movie.
By the time the movie finishes, the rain has stopped and we venture back to our villa for a great night’s sleep.
The next morning, we all rise refreshed to a sunny day. We head to Redsalt again, this time for a sumptuous buffet breakfast. There’s a mind-boggling amount of food to choose from. First up, is the Egg Bar where you can order a variety of eggs made to order from fried to different kinds of omelettes and Eggs Benedict.
For a hearty meal, there are many bain-maries full of sausages, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms. In fact, all the fixings for a big breakfast are there. To wash down all the food, visit the juice bar where you create your own healthy concoction.
For a caffeine fix, the barista bar provides an array of drink choices.
For a lighter breakfast, you can choose from cereals, fruit and an array of delicious pastries.
After breakfast, it’s time for a stroll around the property. Encompassing the resort is an 18-hole championship golf course. It’s a beautiful course with stunning views of the Brokenback Mountain Range. There’s even a resident kangaroo who occasionally appears near the course nicknamed Hercules.
It’s been years since I played golf but seeing the greens and the other golfers, I’m tempted to play some holes. Unfortunately as we’re short on time, that will have to wait until our next visit.
For those who fancy a game, the clubhouse hires out golf equipment and gear and golf carts. If you’re in need of some golf tutoring, check into the Hunter Valley Golf Academy for some lessons. They cater to golfers of all ages (including kids) and all abilities from beginners to advanced.
As we stroll around the resort, the many family-friendly features of this resort become apparent. We discover the Kids Train and the Carousel, amusements which run at regular intervals throughout the school holidays (gold coin donation).
There’s tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts and oversized sets of chess and checkers.
We also spot the Water Dragons Kids Club which my daughter is booked into later in the day.
We hitch a ride on the Kids Train which conveniently drops us off at the pool.
This large outdoor pool is 20 by 25 metres in size and is large enough to handle the large amount of families on holiday.
For parents with babies and toddlers, there’s a shallow section.
Relaxing lounges, beach towels and plenty of shade means it easy to swim and hang out for a few hours poolside and that’s what we do.
It’s conveniently located next door to Lovedale Bar and Restaurant so we wander in for a casual lunch. There’s a variety of bar food available and we select the Club Sandwich and Peri Peri Chicken Burger.
While we wait for our meal, my daughter finds the stash of games and colouring-in pages.
Like us, there are other families coming straight in from the pool area. Some choose to sit inside with views of the pool while others head outside to a bean bag area and relax.
Our buzzer sounds and our food is ready. It tastes delish and is just what we need to refuel after using up energy splashing around in the pool.
After lunch, it’s time to drop my daughter off at the Water Dragons Kids Club. Catering to kids between the ages of 3 and 12, the Water Dragons Kids Club offers a range of games and activities to suit all ages. It’s open all week long for resort guests. However, from Monday to Friday, the kids club is unsupervised and parents / carers will need to supervise.
I recommend visiting on weekends or during school holidays, when the kids club is fully supervised. This enables parents to drop their toilet-trained kids off for a 3 hour session for the very reasonable price of $15 per child per session. I’m impressed as I walk through the Kids Club before dropping my daughter off. There’s a variety of indoor and outdoor activities for kids including craft, board games, building toys, movies and a large outdoor play area.
The staff are friendly and professional and all have Working With Children credentials. My daughter is keen to get playing with her new friends and barely has time to say goodbye before running off. Older kids don’t miss out as there’s a also a Teen Lounge in the resort. This is a place for teens to relax, chill and unwind with friends. This spot features comfy lounges, bean bags and a TV and video games.
While our child is engaged in the Kids Club, my husband and I wander over to Ubika Spa for a couples relaxation massage. We’re greeted by friendly staff who show us to our beautifully appointed spa room set up with two beds. I’m so excited to enjoy some couples time together while knowing that our child is happy in the supervised Kids Club.
The massage is sublime. It’s almost an hour of bliss and I can feel myself melting into the massage table as any tension is just wiped away. It’s a similar experience for my husband who looks dazed and relaxed after the session. We’re keen to keep the relaxed vibe going so we head back to our villa to relax. It’s then time to pick up our child who’s reluctant to leave the Kids Club and the resort. We manage to extract her by promising her we’ll return soon. We’ve had a wonderful stay at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley and we vow to visit again, this time for a longer break.
Next time, we might even leave the resort grounds as there’s loads of fun family activities around the area. Families can visit the animals at Hunter Valley Zoo or The Storybook Garden at Hunter Valley Gardens and hit some balls at Aqua Golf before visiting some vineyards. Those with an adventurous streak can enjoy a hot air balloon ride or helicopter ride over the Hunter Valley.
Newy with Kids stayed as guests of Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. All opinions are my own.
In 2012, Reena founded Newy with Kids to share information about family-friendly Newcastle. Originally from Canada, she had no idea about what to do with her toddler and after searching unsuccessfully for a family guide, decided to start her own. Since that time, both the toddler and Newy with Kids have grown keeping Reena busy. If you see her out and about, say hi.