How do you create a powerful experience that leaves a mark on your customers? This important question continues to drive brands of all sizes to seminar after seminar. And, sometimes, some brands do get it right, and sometimes, despite substantial investment, they don't. Which is why we loved it when, in 2009, we stumbled on a small, independent Australian resort that had nailed it. In the crowded market of luxury/boutique travel emerges Pretty Beach House, nestled in the escarpment above Pretty Beach on Bouddi Peninsula, on the New South Wales Central Coast just 100 kilometres north of Sydney, Australia.
From the beginning, Pretty Beach House set a new standard not just because of its exquisite location and its exclusive home-like setting of just four private villas, but it also exceeded all expectations in terms of cuisine.
We stayed there every year and consistently kept it on our 10 best places to stay list, together with Castello Di Reschio in Italy , El Palauet in Barcelona land Saffire in Tasmania
But it late 2012, a fire destroyed much of the main pavilion and our favorite resort closed for more than two years for complete restoration.
However, last month, the Pretty Beach House has reopened, and we can now breathe easier knowing exactly where our next vacation will take us!
The main pavilion is elegantly restored with decommissioned railway timbers from 1883 and each of the four pavilions – Treetops, Bayview, Hideaway and The Retreat – are beautifully appointed with works and craftsmanship of local and international artists and artisans.
The resort is run by Brian and Karina Barry, also proprietors of Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, Restaurant & Spa.
The resort continues its tradition as a foodies paradise with its spectacularly cool new kitchen led by distinguished chefs and restaurateurs, Stefano Manfredi and Julie Manfredi Hughes, whose incredible cuisine impresses us every single time.
The interior design of the villas is un-pretentious and beautifully fitting for the environment. Natural fibres, muted colours and restful accents create a perfect setting for the views of the incredible landscape with hundreds of old gum trees standing there like living sculptures.
The villas interiors are luxurious but not over the top and feature raw, natural materials which blend in with the more 'designer' elements. Privacy is paramount which is why, three of the four villas also has its own private swimming pool. The villas have their own old school record player along with a selection of vinyl, iPods with songs already loaded on it, king size beds have linen sheets, bathtubs and wireless internet (for online-junkies) so there's nothing else to do but slide from day bed to pool and back again in a haze of sedation, facilitated by attentive staff who materialise at your every whim.
The setting is beautiful but the real thrill begins when it's time to eat. For us, it really is all about the food and everything else is a bonus. From the continental breakfast to the lunch and degustation dinners - everything is extraordinary.
Manfredi has exported and integrated his sophisticated, big-city fine dining into this laid-back environment. And he often serves guests himself. If anything, the trip to Pretty Beach House is worth it just for this. Where else can you experience one of Sydney's top chefs cooking just for you and a tiny handful of others?
Aside from sleeping, relaxing, eating and drinking, you can wander down to Tallow Beach for a swim, or take one of the charters to go swimming on secluded, secret beaches, or to go fishing or dolphin watching.Aside from sleeping (in extraordinary beds, we must note), lazing, eating and drinking, you can wander down to Tallow Beach for a swim and a dose of dolphin watching. Or if you're in search of a slice of adventure you hop into the Pretty Beach House boat or take out a helicopter ride over the area.
For more information check out the site prettybeachhouse.com.au. Mention The Cool Hunter to receive a free upgrade to the tree house villa. - Bill Tikos