romance is alive
Most of the couples I ask about travelling away with kids for a romantic break, basically laugh in my face. You have to be kidding don’t you? You know they will be forever asking to go and do things, that they are hungry, or bored! They will want you to be there at their side continually. There won’t be a minute’s peace! Now hang on there, I do believe it is possible, but it will take some resolve on your part, as you know kids can be manipulative even before they know how to be. Most of you would be familiar with the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales – a comfortable three-hour drive from Wollongong and a slightly shorter trip from Sydney. The Hunter region is often frequented by groups on bucks and hen’s nights, end of season sporting trips, boys on golf weekends or the girls on wine and whine and spa adventures – all great fun and the perfect excuse to get away from those appendages and let you hair down. But what if mum or dad couldn’t help you out? What if Aunty Kellie was busy and couldn’t take the kids off your hands this time. What if the kids had already alienated the next-door neighbours to breaking point after the latest footy through the window incident? What if you had to take ’em? I do believe all is going to be okay and I do believe that you can still have some romance even though you have your time anchors along for the ride. It’s all about balance. Some me time, some you time and some us time. But you have to set the boundaries and you have to be strong! The place I have chosen for you to make this all happen is at The Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens and there are many reasons for this choice. A lot of it has to do with where it is situated. Right in the heart of the Hunter, and within walking distance to many of the wineries, attractions and services that you will want to take advantage of – kids or no kids. The resort sits nicely on the corner of Broke Road and McDonalds Road, Pokolbin and has 172 beautifully appointed rooms of varied styles, with all the mod cons that you’d expect from a Mercure hotel, including cable television, internet access, luxurious bedding, mini-bar and clean spacious bathrooms. The resort sits amongst a lovely garden setting and has an onsite day spa, state-of-the-art gymnasium and a gorgeous Mediterranean pool area that has a nice little undercover spa. It also has a charming lounge and library area that is equipped with games, books and all the daily papers. The resort is home to one of the prime restaurants in the Hunter Valley. With a name like The Hunter Valley Steakhouse, the restaurant obviously features a great range of local grain-fed and pasture-fed beef, but that is not all that master chef Jean Marc Pollet creates. Lovers of pasta and seafood are equally catered for and his desserts are just wicked. There is much to do in the valley besides perusing the many wineries and all within a short stroll of the Mercure you will find The Hunter Valley Village and as sad as the saying goes, it does have “something for everyone”. Mums can peruse the antique stores, artist galleries and specialty clothing stores. Dad can check out the amazing array of beers in the Hunter Valley Cellars, which also stocks a fine range of procured meats and delectable delights…mm...mm! The kids, well they can checkout the Hunter Valley Chocolate or the British Lolly Shop. They can also entertain themselves (god forbid) at the children’s playground that is also in the village. If dad was keen for some one-on-one kid time there is Putt Putt or Aqua Golf on hand as well. Now I wouldn’t say that I was a great lover of gardens, I enjoy sitting in them of course, but it’s not like I would go out of my way to visit one. However, the world-class Hunter Valley Gardens are one that I would and have made an exception for. These gardens are spectacular and depending on what time of year you visit, I think you will find them amazing as well. The Story Book Garden is a treat for the kids as much as you and I guarantee you will be singing some of your favourite nursery rhymes, like it or not! A nice bonus is when you stay at the Mercure you get two for one tickets. When it comes to some you time, you still don’t have to drive anywhere. Enjoy a walking wine wander and experience the delights of some of the region’s best
wineries. McGuigans is literally 30 seconds from your room. Brokenwood is within 500 meters. Tempus Two is also just down the road and not only features fine wines, but has the delightful Goldfish Cocktail Bar and Lounge for that pre or post dinner drink maybe? Throughout summer they also have comedy nights and I really don’t think we laugh enough! There are some fantastic world-class golfing options for those who like to chase the little white ball around, including The Vines and Cypress Lakes. If you are wondering how you are going to be able to juggle the me, you and us time, then don’t fear. The Mercure will organise on-site baby-sitting for you at reasonable prices and due to the fact that everything is within walking distance, you can feel safe that your little cherubs are just around the corner. All righty then, it’s all up to you now. The choice is yours. Oh to help you make an educated decision, I have inserted two itinerary options. The choice is then all up to you … do you Take ’em or Leave ’em?
Heritage Trail, Hunter Valley.
Hunter balloon ride; kangaroos amidst the vineyards and wine-tasting with canapés at the end of the day.