Swimming with the stars
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.
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