Natalie Bray dips into one of the best hotel pools in Oz – at Oaks Pacific Blue in Port Stephens, NSW.
Let’s get straight to the point. I judge my accommodation on it’s pool and it’s bedspreads… or lack of bedspreads. I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but let’s be honest, few of us are likely to book a hotel or resort without first having looked at photos of the accommodation. Thank god for the internet in that regard.
My absolute pre-requisite for a relaxing holiday is a nice pool and our recent stay at Oaks Pacific Blue, located in Salamander Bay, Port Stephens, was booked for that very feature. The fact I had chosen a resort based on it’s pool when it was still winter and too cold for swimming tells you just how impressed I was by the pool I saw on it’s website.
When I made the booking i really didn’t think too much about the lack of summer sun, so it wasn’t until I was toe to water with, what turned out to be an even bigger pool than I imagined, that reality sank in. The resort’s 480 metre pristine lagoon pool encircles the entire resort and is nothing short of magnificent. Having saved to stay on Hayman Island for our honeymoon 9 years ago, purely because of Hayman’s famous pool, I can tell you this one gives Hayman a definite run for it’s money and with a much smaller bill at the end.
Surrounded by tropical gardens and offering a range of accommodation including luxurious Studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments or two and three bedroom townhouses with private plunge pools (as if the main resort pool isn’t enough!), there’s also the choice of a premium hotel room.
Magnificent lagoon pool aside, the tropical grounds also house a restaurant, café, Spa Retreat, Hair Salon, gym, Japanese steam room, separate 25m heated outdoor lap pool and floodlit synthetic grass tennis courts.
My husband, two young children and I were on a weekend getaway and being less than 3 hours drive from Sydney it’s the perfect escape from the city madness.
Port Stephens is of course a water wonderland. If you can pull yourself away from the pool at the resort, the surrounding coastline and picturesque towns provide opportunities for such activities as dolphin and whale watching, sand boarding on the Stockton sand dunes, shopping and dining in popular Nelson Bay and visits to local attractions including the Australian Shark and Ray Centre, Oakvale Farm and Fauna World, or Fighter World.
For our young son this ended up being a weekend of firsts – His first attempt at ten pin bowling (SuperStrike bowling alley located directly opposite the resort’s entrance), his first hit of tennis, on one of the resorts two courts and his first time sleeping (though very much dwarfed) in a king size bed, which he did happily in our modern 2 bedroom apartment.
Our accommodation was attractively decorated, with a full size kitchen and beautifully big bathroom. The beds certainly passed my bedding standards and the view from the apartment to that pool was perfect.
Next time, when staying in warmer weather, I will not leave until the pool is circumnavigated (via the water). The resort is not located directly by the ocean or bay, but with a pool like this one you wouldn’t be wanting to swim anywhere else.
// Natalie Bray is a member of our Virtual Internship Program. If you’re a photographer or writer looking to break into travel journalism, we’re here to help you get a leg up. To find out more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org