Hands up all the parents who’ve been trying to find holiday accommodation, only to be faced with an alarming number of sub-quality choices out there?
For many couples with young children, it can be frustrating to wistfully reminisce about their array of luxurious getaways pre-kids only to compare it to the distinctively less appetising assortment that’s now on offer.
You can go the family route, which often forgets all about the finer things in life or even the creature comforts of home, or you can go for a stylish holiday, which can lose a bit of its gloss when you have to BYO essentials like portacots, prams and highchairs because it’s not set up for kids.
Thankfully, the travel industry is starting to take notice that there’s a market for young families who still like to be pampered.
One of these places is Meadow Mountain Lodge, a gorgeous architecturally designed holiday home at Berry, on New South Wales’ South Coast, just a two-and-a-half hour drive from Sydney’s CBD.
This is the type of setting where you can have any type of holiday you want – the lodge, which successfully mixes style with a family-friendly environment – is big enough to accommodate a few families if you’re after a social weekend (it has five bedrooms and sleeps up to 18 people), or it’s cosy enough for just one family to shut out the world and get away from it all.
The stunning home was designed by an award-winning architect and boasts gorgeous mountain views, and it overlooks seven acres of park-like gardens that have been shown in the Berry Garden Festival. Green thumbs will be in awe of the imported exotic plants and trees, there are 70 varieties of roses alone, and the kids and gourmands will be equally thrilled with the many fruit trees that are ripe for the picking.
You’ll notice that it feels like a home away from home, and that is exactly how the owners, who have three young children themselves, like it. The idea is that kids, from birth to teenagers, are all properly catered for and occupied so that the adults can use their holiday time to relax.
There’s heaps of fun stuff for them to do indoors – the most popular will probably be the PlayStation 2 that comes with games. Then there’s free wireless Internet access, a flat screen TV, a video and DVD player (with new release DVDs and videos for all ages), toys, games, table tennis and a library of top-selling books.
Even with all this on offer, you probably won’t have too much trouble getting the kids to play outside – there’s a tennis court, bikes and an adventure playground with cubby house, slippery dip, swing and sandpit. And something that will really thrill the kids – especially the city dwellers – a working chook shed where you can collect fresh eggs every day!
For Mum and Dad there’s the more practical but equally thrilling inclusions to get excited about – two cots, two highchairs and two bouncer chairs are provided for any infant visitors, and there’s a laundry with washing machine and dryer.
Not that you’ll be doing too many domestic duties – you get to choose how self-sufficient you want to be. Either cook up a storm in the newly renovated kitchen, that comes complete with a Miele oven, or choose to have catering provided at the house.
Now all you need to do is figure out if you’re going to choose to book the in-house masseur for a visit, have a barbecue on the deck, enjoy the outdoor spa or recline on one of the leather lounges in front of one of the wood fires.
In fact, the house is so well equipped and inviting, there’s really no need to go anywhere once you’ve settled in … however, if you’re after some fun outside distractions there is plenty around.
The lodge is so close to the South Coast’s pristine beaches, and is only about a 10-minute drive from the famous Seven Mile Beach. There’s also the breathtakingly beautiful Kangaroo Valley to explore as well as the quaint historic town of Berry.
For the food and wine enthusiast, there are cafes and restaurants to try, as well as tours and tastings at the local wineries. For the active type, there are golf courses nearby or you can go bushwalking, fishing, rock climbing or horse riding.
But no matter how much fun you’re having, we wouldn’t be surprised if before long you’re wishing you could click your heels three times and be back at Meadow Mountain Lodge. After all, as Dorothy says, “There’s no place like (a luxurious holiday) home.”