March 17, 2023
5 mins Read
A ‘Watermelon Blush’ or a walk in the bush? It’s seconds past midday, so choosing between stretching my legs or an afternoon cocktail by a crackling fire is a tough decision.
The bartender muddles my drink as I watch hikers leave for Sublime Point Lookout. It’s an easy walk from Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains, MGallery by Sofitel, my retreat for the night. I want to tell the walkers that my cocktail is also sublime.
I’ve gifted myself a mid-week break at this luxurious resort, and, like a sugar-fuelled kid at a carnival, don’t know which treat to choose first.
I almost want to get back in my car and keep driving, as I’ve hired a Signature Series luxury car from Avis, a BMW X5 with only 557 kilometres on the odometer.
Car hire has come a long way; I downloaded the Avis app, and instead of enduring long queues and pages of paperwork, I was in, out and on the road from the Avis office in minutes. (Avis Preferred members can bypass the check-in counter completely to go straight to their car at major Australian locations.)
Sydney to the Blue Mountains is such an easy drive. From the airport to Leura it takes only an hour and a half, and what a difference 100 kilometres makes; the clutter of suburbia quickly yields to the grey-green bush of the mountains.
Passing through Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth Falls, the town names remind drivers of the explorers who bush-bashed these ridges with pack horses to discover what lay beyond back in 1813.
As the temperature drops, I turn up my seat warmer. What a difference 209 years make.
Fairmont Resort & Spa, MGallery by Sofitel stands proud in the Jamison Valley. Sitting in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park, it’s an expansive property with stunning views, and is part of the boutique MGallery by Sofitel Collection.
At the front desk, Lu treats me like a dear friend. She wears a trainee badge but her welcome speaks of extensive hotel and local knowledge.
There are 224 rooms on the grounds, and guests can enjoy the indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a gym, stables, six restaurants and bars, and the Ubika Day Spa. The 18-hole Leura Golf Course sits adjacent to the hotel.
If all that wasn’t enough to lure me to Leura, the resort is an Accor property, so my ALL reward points get a nice boost.
Membership to the ALL loyalty program (ALL stands for ‘Accor Live Limitless’) is free and the benefits are extensive, such as a special members’ rate at hotels, resorts and apartments worldwide.
Accor’s new partnership with Avis also means I get 125 reward points for every day of my Avis car hire. These are travel partners that really are working together to give me more!
It’s not just trips away that let me reap reward benefits, though: I also earn points when dining at restaurants and bars, and can use them to buy tickets to see Ed Sheeran in concert, or to cheer on my favourite footy team at Accor Stadium.
Leura Mall is a streetscape of boutiques and cute cafes, and I can’t resist the pretty pastels and fabulously retro look of The Wayzgoose Diner.
A polkadot tablecloth covers my booth table, the music’s great, and after my first spoonful of spicy tomato soup I know I’ve picked a winner. (Lu later tells me the building was once a printers’ shop, and that ‘wayzgoose’ is the old word for the entertainment the master printers put on for their workers.)
Next, it’s time to shop. Lyttleton Stores Cooperative in Lawson bursts with organic food, local art and pottery, while Mr Pickwick’s Fine Old Books in Katoomba has antique curios and rare publications for sale.
Leura’s Bygone Beauties has the world’s largest collection of tea wares and serves high tea on the finest bone china, and in Blackheath, the Victory Theatre Antique Centre houses two floors of treasures.
One last mandatory Blue Mountains activity? A selfie at the Three Sisters from Echo Point. Then I dash for my appointment at Ubika Day Spa.
I’m served a calming cup of peppermint tea in the Zen Room, then Toni settles me on a heated treatment bed for a Nourishing & Calming Facial.
It’s 60 minutes of bliss, leaving enough time for another fireside cocktail before dinner at Embers Grill Restaurant, the new signature dining option at Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains, MGallery by Sofitel.
Executive chef Patrick Morris helps me choose my meal, and though I’m tempted by the premium steakhouse cuts I take three entrees – beef tartare, tuna ceviche and grilled Yamba prawns – then the s’mores tart to finish.
Thanks to my Accor ALL membership I’ve got a late check-out, and with my extra hours I join the Sublime Point Lookout hikers and tell them about my cocktail.
I’ll come again soon, next time with friends. But leaving, I feel I’ve been surrounded by them.
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