Highlands retreat suits to a tee
I AM sitting on my balcony with the bushy profile of Bowral’s Mt Gibraltar dead ahead. In the foreground, early-morning golfers hit balls into a small lake, which ducks dive to investigate. It’s a green and peaceful scene, typical of the NSW southern highlands.
I step back into the guestroom, which is definitely not typical. It’s very large, for a start, with a pair of super-king beds fit for a beginner Biggest Loser couple. I’ve j ust spent a cosy night under crisp white linen after a soporific soak in the spa tub (also big enough for two would-be weight losers, though perhaps some episodes later) listening to soothing jazz from my docked mobile phone.
Accommodation at the new Gibraltar Hotel Bowral is indeed grand in scale, reflecting every aspect of this contemporary establishment. It boasts the only lift in a local hotel. Just as well, because the building is long and there’s walking enough without stairs.
The corridors are showcases for an eclectic mix of international artefacts and art, so there’s reason to pause along the route. I’m headed for the heated indoor pool and a pre-booked Pilates session, although I could have chosen yoga, Zumba, or (horrors) boot camp. Afterwards, in the Grooming Lounge, I’m trimmed and tousled by Glenn O’Reilly, whose Paris credentials make him a star catch for the hotel. He’s very green, too, taming my mop with Prive botanicals.
O’Reilly also has charge of the adjoining day spa: five ritzy treatment rooms and a multiheaded Vichy shower that rinses treatment residues from my stillprone body. Even so, the Australian native plant-based Li’tya spa products engender sensations of emerging from a secret bush billabong.
For golfers, a round on the 18-hole, par 69 course is readily available and not expensive. Bookings are made through the hotel and lessons can be arranged. Membership costs about $700, a good investment perhaps for players happy to swap log-jam city tee-off times for a drive of about an hour from Sydney’s southern suburbs.
For non-golfers and families, free guided bushwalks in the adjoining Gibbergunyah Reserve, rich with native flora and fauna, are a good option.
Pre-dinner drinks in Harvey’s Bar, named for musician and local resident Geoff Harvey, swing along nicely to the Friday and Saturday night pianist, sometimes the maestro himself. The bar menu includes steak sandwiches, tapas and desserts but, as Harvey’s is open from 11am until whenever, it suits perfectly. Happy hour is from 4pm to 6pm on Fridays.
Dinner in the Gibraltar Grill is an extended repast in need of some tweaking. The promise of a perfectly cooked steak is delivered but the long wait could have been leavened by a view of the mountain instead of the reflection of diners. However, I’m assured outdoor lighting is soon to be installed. Buffet breakfast is also served here and choices are satisfying. Order your eggs any which way, and there’s proper barista-made coffee.
Gibraltar’s 76 guestrooms and flexible spaces will encourage wedding and conference guests. But special nuptial drawcards — the Italian Ahlborn-Galante electronic pipeless organ and grand piano — are already attracting leading musicians and recitals are in the wind. Gail Heathwood was a guest of Gibraltar Hotel Bowral.
The new Gibraltar Hotel Bowral features an 18-hole golf course