Sunday Herald Sun - Escape
At the cutting edges
This week is a tale of two contrasts, which seems to be what travel through Covid has been about. On the one hand, the Escape team was busy shooting Nick Cummins, aka the Honey Badger, hiking in Queensland’s Lamington National Park. Cummins has a unique travel business, the Rogue Gentlemen’s Club, which specialises in curating group tours for men who want to rediscover off-grid adventure. That could mean fishing, golfing or even the more gruelling boot camp, and journalist Craig Tansley writes that it’s become a mind, body and soul experience for gents.
On the other hand, I was busy on a completely different assignment: checking into the buzzy new Crown Sydney for an overnight stay as a media guest. With 14 bars and restaurants, lavishly appointed rooms with generous views from Barangaroo to the Harbour Bridge, and a day spa designed by Blainey North, it’s certainly not the experience for those looking to go off-grid.
Four years in the making, with 349 rooms tucked neatly into a glimmering 275m-high tower, the hotel is the final piece in the Barangaroo puzzle (unless you count the new train station and Westfield next door, yet to finish). On completion of the path along the Sydney foreshore, you’ll be able to walk from the hotel to the Botanic Gardens, one of the best vistas in the world.
Like Crown Melbourne, the dining precinct is unparalleled – from Nobu to Ross Lusted’s Woodcut, Alessandro Pavoni’s a’Mare, and Teahouse with adultsized birdcages to sit in – and the breakfast buffet exceptional, with five stations and a chocolate fountain, all Covid-safe. Add the 50 types of marble used throughout the building, an indulgent infinity pool, and the largest chandelier in the southern hemisphere, which wraps around a spiral staircase, and it’s an opulence Sydney has not yet seen. The service is top-notch, too.
It’s not cheap (upwards of $800 a night), but you don’t have to stay at Crown to experience the café, restaurants and waterfront bars. The foreshore walk will be free, and the area the jewel in Sydney’s crown. While luxury may not be in everyone’s budget, the opening brings positivity and energy to a city and an industry deeply affected by the pandemic. The casino hasn’t yet opened; however, it’s not a public area and is only to be accessible to high rollers, so it’s not something I glimpsed.
Whether you’re the off-grid type of traveller or the on-grid kind, I’ve realised it’s perfectly okay to enjoy a bit of both.