Two hours’ drive south of the Sydney CBD and just five kilometres north of the pretty town of Berry, the exquisite family-owned and operated Mt Hay Retreat is set on a working farm in the foothills below an escarpment with panoramic views across rolling green hills all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
With six expansive suites, this luxury South Coast hideaway is made for a romantic getaway – complete with indoor pool and spa set above mature gardens, surrounded by 360 acres of farmland framed by native bush.
Enjoy night skies uninterrupted by light pollution.
Mt Hay Retreat is much more than the sum of its remarkable facilities. It also emanates an indelible sense of calm and tranquillity, making it a lifestyle destination of rare distinction – it’s a two-time Gold Award winner (2021 and 2022) at the NSW Tourism Awards for Five-Star Luxury Accommodation for a reason.
The history and design of Mt Hay Retreat
In 1987, Sydney-based Wayne and Christine bought the farm with a 1960s fibro house as a weekend and holiday retreat for themselves and their five children. Family friend and retired Sydney architect Alex Gencur designed the main house and pool, which was completed in 2008. It was always the family’s dream to build a retreat which provided a sustainable income to ensure the property would remain largely untouched.
Dive into Mt Hay Retreat’s 33-metre heated indoor pool.
After a career in finance and sales in London, Anthony (one of original owner’s children) and his partner Louise decided to make the project a reality and spent four years working with the council, the architect and local builders to complete the retreat and gardens, which opened in July 2016. Today it is home to two generations of the family, a beef cattle herd, a few pet goats, two ever-eager welcome dogs (Griffy and Dougal) and lots of native wildlife.
Romantic rooms with endless views
The six open-plan, 80 square-metre suites fan out around the top of the hill to ensure that each has spectacular views while also ensuring privacy. Each has soaring ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto expansive decks.
No matter where you are in the room – spending a lazy day in bed, relaxing on the sofa or sitting at the glass dining table – they’ve been designed to ensure guests can enjoy remarkable views at almost all times.
Enjoy sweeping vistas, no matter where you are in your room.
The bathrooms have large rain-head showers (perfect for two people) with windows overlooking private gardens. All rooms feature decadent baths; some are located out on the deck so you can drink in the view (and maybe a wine or two) in a beautiful private alfresco setting. Other rooms keep the bath inside its own stunning bathroom so that you can soak away your cares at any time.
If you do decide to lock yourself away for an intimate weekend, the rooms have everything you need to never have to leave. Kitchenettes have kettles, toasters, microwaves, refrigerators and capsule coffee makers. Large flat-screen televisions are connected to the internet for easy streaming service.
Watch the sunset from your al fresco bath.
Each suite each has its own distinctive view and is individually designed with different colourways from sky blue, yellow and pale green accents to red, orange and mossy green tones. Two suites are wheelchair accessible with wider doorways, lower vanities, roll-in and out showers and easily moveable furniture.
Wander Mt Hay Retreat’s gardens, orchards and wildlife
Streams and dams dot the eight acres of gardens, which are planted with a fragrant mix of native and exotic flowers and bushes designed to attract the local wildlife.
Brush-tailed rock wallabies, eastern grey kangaroos, and wombats are regularly sighted, as are kookaburras, king parrots, rosellas, lyrebirds, eastern spinebills, and a pair of breeding wedge-tailed eagles. Not to mention regular sightings of superb fairy wrens, skinks, frogs and blue-tongued lizards.
Look for wildlife visiting the gardens.
There are also vegetable gardens and an orchard chock-a-block with orange trees, pink grapefruit, mandarin, lemon, kaffir lime and finger lime trees, whose fruit guests are encouraged to pick.
Enjoy Mt Hay Retreat’s unique offerings
One of the most popular offerings at Mt Hay Retreat is the huge hot tub and 33-metre heated indoor pool, which are enclosed in a beautiful glass house with more exquisite views across the landscape.
Enjoy a shaded wharf deck by the dam – perfect for a romantic picnic or glass of wine – while you feed the koi with retreat-provided food.
Take a picnic under the shaded wharf by the dam.
In addition, there’s a giant chess set in the gardens to while away an afternoon on and an enormous ‘cloud swing’ that offers some of the best views on the property.
Guests can order special champagne and local cheese and fruit platters, complete with handmade chocolate-dipped strawberries, while owners Anthony and Louise can also arrange for a local masseuse to perform in-room or on-deck massages.
Swing outdoors while you soak in the views.
What to do in Berry
Anthony and Louise are the ultimate hosts living on-site. They are always around to offer advice and touring tips, as well as deliver some extra ice or anything else you might need to make your getaway complete.
If you’re looking to explore the local area, some of their top suggestions will always start in the vibrant town of Berry, a ten-minute drive down the road. There, guests will find terrific shopping and a fabulous array of restaurants and cafes.
Stop in Berry for coffee and donuts at the Famous Berry Donut Van.
They particularly recommend dining at South on Albany and Queen Street Eatery, cafes such as The Garden Berry, The Hungry Monkey, and the famous Berry Donut Van.
If you’re looking for some takeaway to enjoy back at Mt Hay, they recommend trying the prepared dishes from Pickled Ink, The Emporium and Flavours Shoalhaven (don’t worry, it’s still located in Berry).
Drive 15-minuts to spend the day at beautiful Seven Mile Beach. (Image: Destination NSW)
Seven Mile Beach, just a 15-minute drive away, is their favourite local beach while the Drawing Room Rocks bushwalk offers a fabulous hike up the escarpment where you get vistas of Kangaroo Valley to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Speaking of Kangaroo Valley, it’s well worth a drive along quaint country roads to explore it further.
Bring back your locally sourced wine and enjoy it on your deck.
What’s a romantic escape without a little wine? Luckily Anthony and Louise can suggest several of their favourite local wineries, like Mountain Ridge Wines, Silos Estate, Two Figs Winery and Cambewarra Estate.
To start planning your romantic Berry getaway, visit the Mt Hay Retreat website.