Swim­ming with the stars

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - One Perfect Day - AT THE INN

IT says some­thing about the pedi­gree of a place that the first car we come across in the drive­way is a Fer­rari. In­deed, we haven’t even made it past the in­ter­com pro­tect­ing the au­to­matic gates to Ter­ri­gal’s Star of the Sea Lux­ury Apart­ments when one such beast — red, nat­u­rally — purrs along be­side us. Its im­mac­u­lately coiffed driver af­fords us a cur­sory glance be­fore gun­ning his en­gines to­wards the coast road.

So we’re al­ready mildly im­pressed when, two sec­onds later, as we’re park­ing our non-Fer­rari, we spot an in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nis­able sports star ap­proach­ing us in his sil­ver four-wheel-drive. Isn’t that . . .?’’ we won­der and, as he gives us a lit­tle wave, we re­alise with a shock that yes, it is. So this is where the fab­u­lous peo­ple come for their week­ends.

‘‘ Yep,’’ says Bob the Boss (as cheer­ful uber-man­ager Bob Lloyd de­scribes him­self) when we check in, we have a whole team and their fam­i­lies stay­ing here at the mo­ment. You know, ev­ery­body stays here.’’ Then, qui­etly, in case any­body else is lis­ten­ing, he drops the N word. Ni­cole, that is. I’m sure whether he’s ex­ag­ger­at­ing but it seems likely La Kid­man has called by for a spot of NSW cen­tral coast re­lax­ation dur­ing one of her Syd­ney so­journs. Ter­ri­gal is only a short drive up the high­way, af­ter all.

Ni­cole would prob­a­bly feel right at home here, given that Star of the Sea, with its glitzy gar­dens, mock-Tus­can ar­chi­tec­ture, ten­nis courts, mul­ti­ple pools and very LA palm trees, has a cer­tain Bel Air am­bi­ence. Ac­tu­ally, it’s the sort of place she might bring her par­ents, Keith, the kids, sis­ter An­to­nia and her tribe. For the Star of the Sea, as well as be­ing lux­u­ri­ous, is built for fam­i­lies, big fam­i­lies at that.

Which is lucky for us, given we’ve ar­rived with chil­dren in tow, a moun­tain of beach para­pher­na­lia, clothes, books, toys, DVDs, CDs and wash­ing. We’ve rented a three­bed­room apart­ment with a view of the Pa­cific (four-bed­room apart­ments are also avail­able) and it’s huge: the apart­ment as well as the view. Only re­cently com­pleted, the com­plex com­prises in­di­vid­u­ally owned units with ac­cess to fa­cil­i­ties that in­clude three pools, a sauna, spa, gym, pool­side cafe, squash court, li­brary, bar­be­cue and kids’ play­ground.

Each unit is in­di­vid­u­ally dec­o­rated but there are cer­tain re­cur­ring themes: plenty of mar­ble, qual­ity ap­point­ments (Miele white­goods and the like) and mas­terbed­room spas, for starters. The lo­ca­tion, just up the hill from Ter­ri­gal Beach, is ter­rific.

We find the place mas­sive by city stan­dards. Un­like be­ing stuffed into a tiny ho­tel room, the ben­e­fit of stay­ing in an apart­ment is the house-like pro­por­tions. At night, when the chil­dren are asleep, we turn the mu­sic up and dine on the bal­cony with the ocean breeze in our faces.

And, as with any good re­sort, the pools are the stars. Here, the main one has a la­goon theme, with bridges and wa­ter­falls, a large gold­fish pond and a magic slide for chil­dren. For par­ents, there’s a swim-up bar and a cafe that serves food day-round. There’s a deck with sun­lounges, too, but — pre­dictably — it rains. Hap­pily, there’s a con­tin­gency: a won­der­ful in­door heated pool un­der a black ceil­ing spot­ted with hun­dreds of starry lights. A le­gion of comfy sun­lounges line the pool, so we while away many hours here keep­ing an eye on the army of small folk, in­clud­ing our own, who de­scend to this in­door oa­sis for some much-an­tic­i­pated wa­ter ac­tion.

We don’t see Mr Fer­rari again dur­ing our stay. Per­haps he is busy driv­ing to Syd­ney to col­lect some fa­mous film star for a week of beach­side op­u­lence. You never know.

Check­list

Star of the Sea Lux­ury Apart­ments, 8 The Es­planade, Ter­ri­gal, NSW. (02) 3485 7979; www.starofthe­seater­ri­gal.com. Tar­iff: From $450 a night; weekly rates from $2100. Get­ting there: Ter­ri­gal is about a 90-minute drive north from Syd­ney, de­pend­ing on traf­fic. The com­plex is two min­utes south of Ter­ri­gal Beach and shops. Check­ing in: Sport­ing iden­ti­ties, ex­ec­u­tives with kids, fam­ily groups shar­ing apart­ments. Wheel­chair ac­cess: Apart­ments are sin­glelevel and ac­cessed via lifts from the base­ment carpark. The re­sort gar­den is flat, with wide paths. Bed­time read­ing: TheBody­surfers by Robert Drewe is ideal for get­ting in the mood for a small-town coastal ex­pe­ri­ence. Step­ping out: There are sev­eral good din­ing op­tions nearby, in­clud­ing Onda, an award-win­ning Ital­ian restau­rant with ocean views. For great break­fasts and the best cof­fee in the area, drive a few min­utes north to Wam­beral where i-bar es­presso bar & deli (127 Ocean View Dr; www.ibar-au.com) does ex­cel­lent cof­fee. The veg­e­tar­ian hot brekkie (eggs, toast, potato with spicy rel­ish, English spinach, beans and more) is rec­om­mended. Brick­bats: I would have ap­pre­ci­ated a daily room ser­vice, and we have to ask for fresh tow­els; the television in our mas­ter bed­room is bro­ken; the pool­side cafe is op­er­ated dur­ing our stay by staff ap­par­ently un­in­ter­ested in pro­vid­ing ser­vice. Bou­quets: Lux­ury ap­point­ments; plenty of space; great view; ex­cel­lent pools.

Style cen­tral: Ter­ri­gal’s Star of the Sea apart­ments over­look a la­goon-like pool

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