Feel loved: a magical Blue Mountains getaway with AccorHotels
It’s 5:30am, and first light is just beginning to break over the Sublime Point lookout.
There’s a thin band of crimson on the horizon, and it bathes the sea of clouds in the valley below with amber. Soon, the ancient sandstone escarpments will be ablaze with light, and the clouds will burn away until only the iconic Eucalyptus oil blue haze that gives the Blue Mountains their name will remain. Birdsong will fill the air, and the first enthusiastic tourists will begin to flock to the iconic Three Sisters lookout to our right.
For now though, all is calm.
I close my eyes and breathe the fresh air in deep; the lemony tang of Eucalyptus trees and sweetness of fluffy Myrtle wattle. Of all the many things we miss about our home country when we’re on the road, it’s the smell and unique landscape of the Australian bush that makes us the most homesick.
We’d arrived to the Blue Mountains the previous evening, a place that had been calling to us for a long time, and the perfect location to enjoy an early Valentine’s Day adventure at the Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains with AccorHotels.
We’d spent the evening lakeside, in the shade of a Willow tree on the Fairmont’s grounds, celebrating with a beautiful surprise picnic that the team helped me organise for Mark. As the sun had set, we’d popped a bottle of Veuve and settled in to watch the grounds turn a beautiful shade of pink.
Now, with a glorious sunrise, a ‘Balance & Calm’ couple’s massage treatment on our itinerary for later that day, and the promise of mountain adventures, we were already well and truly falling in love with the magic of the Blue Mountains.
Feel loved: our Valentine’s Day escape to the Blue Mountains
The Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains – Mgallery by Sofitel
Turning down the long, leafy driveway of the Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains for the first time, we knew we were in for a grand adventure.
The resort, nestled right next to the cute little country town of Leura, looks like a secluded country club or chalet, and exudes the charm of a luxury wellness retreat. With incredible views over the Jamison Valley from every corner, it really is just a gorgeous little slice of mountain paradise.
There’s so much to do here that you could almost come here and never leave the grounds of the hotel, except of course, for the fact that the glory of the UNESCO World Heritage Blue Mountains National Park is right on your doorstep.
From tennis courts and a golf course to the in-house cinema, games room, small shopping boutique, and inviting indoor/outdoor pool, spa, and sauna area - there’s plenty to keep the adults well and truly entertained! It’s also a true playground for kids, with weekend pony rides, a special kid’s zone, a mini bowling alley, and a special train ride that takes in a tour of the property.
As is often the way with places like these, it was the staff who made our experience so memorable. We were greeted by warm smiles and genuine hospitality each day, and we often saw staff taking the time to really get to know the guests staying there - a rare sight to see in hotels today!
THE DALAI LAMA SUITE
After collecting our room keys from the smiling receptionist, we were halfway down the Megalong wing when we spotted a gold plaque at the very end of the hall declaring the Dalai Lama Suite.
‘Oh, how the other half lives,’ we laughed, trying to hold back our envy over the lucky few who would get to see the inside of room.
That envy was short-lived though, when we counted down the numbers on the doors and realised that the #452 written on our door key was, in fact, the Dalai Lama Suite itself.
As we swung open the door, we were greeted with another plaque that confirmed that this room was first used by ‘His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso the 14th Dalai Lama’ - which we took to mean that by default, we’re now enlightened via osmosis. That, and we were about to spend the next two nights living like true royalty.
This suite is huge - probably double the size of the first apartment we lived in together in Melbourne! With a spacious living room and fireplace, insanely comfortable bedroom and ensuite with spa bath, and a coffee machine to keep me happy. The two sun-drenched balconies looking over the resort grounds and the undulating Jamison Valley were the perfect spot to pull up a chair and lose ourselves in the view, or curl up on the couch and watch a storm roll in across the valley outside!
After a busy day of exploring in the mountains, we were treated to a fab dinner in the Resort's cosy Embers Restaurant. With its iconic floor to ceiling stone fireplace and windows looking out over the beautiful Jamison Valley - the restaurant is the perfect spot to enjoy some comfort food and totally lose yourself in the views.
Being vegetarian was no trouble for the super helpful staff (shoutout to Sandeep and his team!), who whipped up a delicious chargrilled watermelon, miso, tofu entree, grilled veggie gnocchi (for Mark), and a tasty smoked cauliflower main (for Mim), topped off with a drool-worthy coconut couscous pudding.
THE SURPRISE picnic
When Mark and I first met nearly nine years ago, our first date was a picnic.
We grabbed a couple of burgers and a few snacks, sat in the grass in one of Melbourne’s lovely parks, and chatted for hours. It was the perfect combination of our joint love of the outdoors and my love of snacks, and to this day, the humble picnic is still one of our favourite ways to spend time together.
With Valentine’s Day quickly creeping around the corner, spoiling Mark with a surprise picnic was the obvious choice, but the trickiest part about working, travelling, and living together 24/7 is that it’s basically impossible to pull off any kind of surprise without the other getting wind of it almost immediately. I knew I was going to need some outside help. Enter: the wonderful Fairmont team!
From scouting out the most perfect lakeside picnic spot under the shade of a willow tree on the property, to putting together a magical little picnic basket full of delicious treats and Australian gin from Twenty Third Street Distillery, the team outdid themselves in helping me pull something really special together to surprise Mark with.
I’d managed to sneakily grab a few of his favourite foods, and while he relaxed in the room after the long drive, I ‘went for a walk’ and ran down to set up the surprise. One cryptic text with instructions to get to the lake later, and watching his confusion turn to delight when he realised what was going on was utterly priceless!
As the sky turned golden overhead, we popped some bubbly, feasted on treats, and had a good laugh as a few bold ducks attempted a sneaky (unsuccessful) gatecrash of our picnic blanket and food. It was a magical evening, and one we’ll remember for a long, long time.
What many of you guys probably don’t know, is that Mark is the real driving force of this blog, our Instagram, and our overall business. He’s constantly going at a million miles an hour, and his passion and talent is second to none. Plus he’s also the best human I’ve met, so to be able to spoil him in such a perfect way was a really special, memorable experience for us both.
A huge, huge thanks to the wonderful bunch of humans at the Fairmont for all their help!
the day spa
What’s a romantic weekend away in the mountains without the chance to zen out in a day spa?!
Part two of Mark’s surprise was a morning spent at the Fairmont's Ubika Day Spa, enjoying a ‘Balance and Calm’ couples massage treatment - the perfect way to ease the tension out of our ‘laptop shoulders’ (as we call them!). After choosing our iKOU aromatherapy oil blends (Lemon Myrtle ‘wellness’ for Mark, and Geranium ‘de-stress’ for me), we relaxed in the private spa, before beginning the 60-min massage treatment.
It was total zen from start to finish, and we definitely left feeling relaxed and re-balanced (something we don’t often get to feel!).
2 days in the Blue Mountains: what to see
We’d been dreaming of adventures in the Blue Mountains for years, so to finally be there, exploring its sprawling rainforests and blue-hazed valleys really was a dream come true.
The beauty of the Blue Mountains national park, especially for those on a time budget, is that all of the most spectacular places can be seen within about 15 minutes of pulling your car up in the carpark.
Two days definitely wasn’t enough time for us to explore the region to our heart’s content (just an excuse to come back again soon!), but it was an absolutely perfect introduction to this unique, stunning part of Australia. If, like us, you're only in the Blue Mountains for a short stay, we recommend seeing the following attractions:
Leura is a picturesque country town and starting point for many Blue Mountain adventures. Located just a short drive from the Fairmont Resort, the quaint main street mall is gorgeous and houses many cafes, deli's, galleries and antique stores.
A short 30 minute drive from the Fairmont Resort is Pulpit Rock lookout, one of the most dramatic viewpoints in the Blue Mountains.
The multi-tiered lookout juts out to a dramatic blade of rock, where you're greeted with some of the best views overlooking the Grose Valley. A word of warning - if you're afraid of heights, don't look down; it's a sheer drop to the valley floor below!
It's only a short walk from the parking lot to the lookout point, however it's still one of the least visited viewpoints in the National Park, meaning you'll have it all to yourself, like we did.
SUBLIME POINT LOOKOUT
A short five-minute drive from Fairmont Resort lies the aptly named Sublime Point, offering some incredible views over the vast Jamison Valley.
The best to visit is sunrise, when the skies explode into a kaleidoscopic array of colours as the sun peeks over the distant mountains. Take it from us, a sunrise from here is worth the early morning wake up.
Sublime Point lookout also offers an alternative view of the Three Sisters, without the crowds.
Located near Wentworth Falls, around a 15 minute drive from the Fairmont Resort, Lincoln's rock has become something of an Instagram sensation, with people flocking from all over the world to get 'the' shot - sitting on the edge of the sandstone cliff overlooking the vast Jamison Valley below.
While getting 'the' shot is great, for us, enjoying the amazing views was far more enjoyable, especially so at sunrise, when the orange glow of the sun hits the mountains in the distance, or at sunset, when the sky lights up the valley right in front of you.
There's also a cave under the cliff face that you're able to walk to and get a completely unique perspective of the surrounding valley.
There are a number of incredible waterfalls in the Blue Mountains, with the most accessible being Wentworth Falls.
Plunging 100m to valley floor below, Wentworth Falls is spectacular, especially when the Jamison creek is in full flow. The views overlooking the Jamison Valley are equally impressive, which can be seen from multiple viewpoints around the area.
If you're keen for a short hike, follow the short but steep path from the picnic area down towards the cliffs edge to Fletchers lookout. From here you'll get the best views of Wentworth Falls.
UNDERCLIFF TRACK AT WENTWORTH FALLS
We were recommended the Undercliff track, near Wentworth Falls by Scott, the General Manager at the Fairmont Resort. Scott insisted it was and easy and exhilarating way to experience the Wentworth Falls area, and he was right.
This scenic walk that takes you through typical Australian bush before snaking its way underneath the dramatically exposed cliff faces and overhangs. Along the way, there are a number of incredible viewpoints overlooking the Jamison Valley below. At times it's a little scary, but extremely beautiful.
The hike also passes Princess Rock lookout, which gives great views over the Wentworth Falls and the surrounding cliff faces.
How to get to the Blue Mountains
Just 90 minutes from the heart of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are so easily accessible that they’re often affectionately referred to by locals as just ‘the mountains’, as though they were just on the outskirts of the CBD itself.
GETTING THERE BY CAR
The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is best explored by car, which will give you the flexibility to move between the various sightseeing spots with ease. We rented a car at Sydney Airport, and found ourselves at the mountain’s doorstep in next to no time at all. This is obviously also the easiest way to get around while you’re in the National Park, as the sites are pretty spaced out and you’ll be able to explore them all at your own pace.
GETTING THERE BY TRAIN
The Blue Mountains are also super easy to get to via train, with comfortable double-decker trains departing every hour or so from Central Station in Sydney’s CBD. Trains stop at all stations in the Blue Mountains, and the journey to Katoomba is about 2 hours.
For the current departure times and stop information, visit the official Transport NSW website.
GETTING THERE BY BUS
There are plenty of tour companies that run day trips to the Blue Mountains from Circular Quay and surrounds, Personally we think the area deserves far more than a day, but if your travel time is tight, this could be a good option.
Visiting the Blue Mountains means visiting Aboriginal land, home to the Darug, Gundungurra, Wiradjuri, Wanaruah, Darkinjung, and Dharawal people. We’d like to acknowledge them as the traditional owners of the land and pay our respects to their elders, past, present & future.
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While this was a sponsored campaign with Accor Hotels, as always all opinions, musings, and reviews, are very much our own!