The lure of a horizon pool, dramatic cliffs and A1 service is all anyone can ask for from a trip to Bannisters Point Lodge on the NSW south coast. By AT Editor Greg Barton.

I’ve quite a few serious criticisms of Bannisters Point Lodge. First of all, its trademark horizon pool is way too enticing. One of those picture-perfect affairs that takes great advantage of the Lodge’s location, it’s perched on a dramatic bluff amid cropped lawns and trees standing around in thick, conspiratorial knots. It also appears to drop right off into the boiling, sparkling Pacific Ocean below the bluff, it’s ringed by padded stretch-lounges, and it’s adjoined by a funky cafe/club that churns out tunes, pizza, Caesar salads, frosty beers and mango daiquiris as fast as you can charge them to your room. All of which makes it nearly impossible to drag your holidaying carcass away from the pool’s seductive lure and into the fantastic swimming, snorkelling, golfing and tennis-playing regions of nearby Mollymook and Ulladulla.

The Penthouse I was interested in was frustratingly booked out by a “mystery celebrity couple”, which turned out to be Richard Wilkins and Collette Dinnigan.

Secondly, the toaster in the restaurant – one of those conveyor belt deals that slides your bread beneath piping hot bars – is way too slow and ineffectual. You have to re-feed your bread into this machine at least three times to get any kind of toasty brown-ness. On the bright side, it means you can stand around with the other guests cracking jokes first thing in the morning – a better start to the day than any cup of coffee.

Thirdly, the Bannisters restaurant itself is off the charts. This doesn’t sound like a criticism, but hear me out: having arrived and checked in on a Thursday afternoon, it was already too late to book a table for either the Friday or Saturday evenings, since it’s apparently the finest dining experience to be had within a good 50 miles, open to guests and the public alike. Luckily, this situation was easily rectified by the quality of the food and drinks produced poolside at the Pizza and Cocktail lounge (and “lounge” is the right word, with dim lights, deep couches and cushions covering every available surface.)

During my recent visit, I stayed in an Ocean Deluxe room at a $230/night off-peak weekend rate (the other choices are Spa Retreat at $270, Luxury Suite at $350 or Penthouse at $525). Not cheap – we’re definitely talking “splurge” territory. The Ocean Deluxe rooms are small but opulent, with views of the crashing cliffs, neat gardens, trees and timid bunny rabbits nosing around at dusk. The Penthouse I was interested in was frustratingly booked out by a “mystery celebrity couple”, which turned out to be Richard Wilkins and Collette Dinnigan, as I saw them stretched out by the pool, at the next table at breakfast and strolling around the grounds. Collette and Richard rekindle old flames blared the next day’s social pages of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. If only I’d thought to break that story – but there’s always next time.

A few extra tips:

1. If you’re in an Ocean Deluxe room, you don’t automatically get gigantic fluffy bathrobes to walk around in at all times like a holidaying rockstar. However, you can request them from the accommodating service personnel who seem always to be on hand, which makes you instantly look and feel as though you’re staying in a Penthouse. It’s the little things.

2. On your way to the wonderful continental breakfast each morning (included in your room rate), be sure to plonk a towel and a book onto your choice of poolside stretch-lounge, as they get snapped up fast – and by people who’ll find themselves unable to move a muscle for the entire day due to all the aforementioned pizzas, Caesars, daiquiris, beers, sunshine and views.

3. The front desk has an expansive library of free DVDs for when you get sick of the pool (ie: never).

4. When you book, don’t forget to mention that you read Australian Traveller (even if you just buy it for the pictures) – because that guarantees you free chocolates and champagne in your room on arrival. Once again, on holidays, it’s the little things that make all the difference.

DETAILS: Bannisters Point Lodge
Style: Modern, slick, tremendous use of restricted space.
Location: Three hour drive south of Sydney, two hour drive east of Canberra. Size: 32 rooms (3 Penthouse, 4 Luxury Suite, Courtyard Suite, 10 Spa Retreat and 14 Ocean Deluxe).
Service: Ever-present, friendly, bordering on familiar (but not overly). Charming. Helpful.
Cuisine: Very popular in the area, top-end Mod-Oz fare, with the chilli slipper lobster and soy lacquered duck the signature dishes.
Room service: Straight from the full restaurant menu, and of course from the Pizza and Cocktail lounge.
Outlook: Ridiculous views of cliffs and headlands all the way back up the coast towards Jervis Bay.
Kids: Sure. I saw heaps. Even pushed a few into the pool.
Disabled facilities: Yes. Even though steep and tucked onto a precarious headland, there are access ramps everywhere.
Inclusions: Free DVDs, continental breakfast.Exclusions: Fluffy bathrobes – unless you ask for them.
Thumbs Up: How difficult do you think it would be to have a horizon pool installed at my house?
Thumbs Down: Waiting patiently for a table to become available at the restaurant is an exercise in futility. Book early.
Fee: Deluxe Ocean room $230/night weekend off-peak.

CONTACT
Bannisters Point Lodge
191 Mitchell Parade, Mollymook NSW
Phone: (02) 4455 3044 Website: www.bannisters.com.au

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