THE GREAT ES­CAPE

An ICONIC RESORT with a fresh new look; does THE BY­RON at By­ron still tick all the boxes? ME­GAN ARKINSTALL finds out.

Australian Traveller - - Weekends -

DE­SPITE ITS OB­VI­OUS NAME, while on a re­cent hol­i­day to The By­ron at By­ron in By­ron Bay, I wake in the mid­dle of the night and for­get where I am. Not un­usual for some­one who trav­els a lot, but this fleet­ing mo­ment of am­ne­sia oc­curs more than once. We visit By­ron Bay reg­u­larly so it’s not com­pletely for­eign ground, but on this trip we ex­pe­ri­ence this free-spir­ited beach town from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. Lo­cated just south of town, The By­ron at By­ron is de­scribed as the per­fect place to get away from it all, set on 18 hectares of rain­for­est with the Tal­low Creek run­ning through it. I im­me­di­ately note a feel­ing of calm when we ar­rive. The re­cep­tion­ist, wear­ing a colour­ful and re­laxed en­sem­ble by Aus­tralian de­signer Mis­ter Zimi, pro­vides friendly and swift ser­vice. The re­cep­tion space and ad­join­ing restau­rant have un­der­gone a re­cent makeover by in­te­rior de­signer Luchetti Krelle. It is chic and el­e­gant yet un­pre­ten­tious. Helmed by chef Matthew Kemp, for­merly of Syd­ney’s Banc and his own Restau­rant Balzac, the restau­rant boasts a large al fresco deck with views out into the rain­for­est. The strik­ing copper bar is com­ple­mented by an eclec­tic col­lec­tion of Ital­ian fur­ni­ture in muted tones, with splashes of steel blue and red ochre. A se­ries of still life paint­ings of Aus­tralian na­tive botan­i­cals from 2015 Archibald Prize win­ner Ju­lian Meagher adorns the walls while fresh flow­ers sit pretty around the space. The new look can­not be faulted, nor can the food, which is so­phis­ti­cated and full of flavour, made from plen­ti­ful lo­cal pro­duce. The suites were left un­touched as they were given a re­fresh in 2016. Our lower-floor Stan­dard Suite is ac­cessed via tim­ber board­walks that weave through leafy green rain­for­est and over creek beds. It has ev­ery­thing we need – a kitch­enette, small liv­ing area and bath, how­ever it’s slightly lack­lus­tre com­pared to the new spa­ces, and the fully en­closed bal­conies leave our suite feel­ing a lit­tle dark. Ven­tur­ing in search of some sand and sea, we fol­low the ‘di­rect beach ac­cess’ to Tal­low Beach. It takes us 15 min­utes through rain­for­est and bush, and across a res­i­den­tial street to get there; it’s a lot of ef­fort with a child in tow. Bet­ter to join the groups lazing around the resort’s bliss­ful pool, with the tran­quil­ity of the rain­for­est as a back­drop. Walk­ing back to our suite along the rain­for­est path, we spot a huge python curled up in the sun by the creekbed. (Those en­closed bal­conies now seem like a very good idea.) It’s clear we’re a world away from the By­ron Bay we know – the sun-seek­ing back­pack­ers, tie-dyewear­ing hip­pies and boho-chic hip­sters; the mish-mash of up­scale bou­tiques and side­walk stalls of hand­made sun­dries; a hub­bub of cheap eats be­tween se­ri­ously cool bars and restau­rants. It’s no won­der I feel some des­ti­na­tion dis­ori­en­ta­tion… The By­ron at By­ron is truly an es­cape from it all and a beau­ti­ful one at that.

All AT re­views are con­ducted anony­mously and our writ­ers pay their own way – so we ex­pe­ri­ence ex­actly what you would.

WEEK­ENDS | Re­views

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The By­ron at By­ron’s restau­rant has been given a Luchetti Krelle makeover; It ex­tends to an out­door deck with rain­for­est views; The menu is helmed by ex-Banc chef Matthew Kemp; Spend your days re­lax­ing at the resort’s bliss­ful pool.

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