Review: Sebel Resort, Hawkesbury Valley, Australia

The Hawkesbury area of eastern Australia is known as an historic time capsule because of its many buildings dating back to colonial times.

Yet, amidst all this sits the Sebel Resort and Spa, a modern and luxurious accommodation and function centre at Windsor, on the north-western outskirts of Sydney.

We selected the resort as a base for a two-day visit to the Windsor heritage area, the third-oldest colonial settlement in Australia.

Wow factor

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Sebel Resort and Spa certainly makes a big first impression: 105 rooms, two restaurants, a full-service spa, two tennis courts, two golf courses and an indoor swimming pool.

And all this is set in eight hectares of manicured and landscaped gardens.

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Entering the main doors, the feeling was one of quality and luxury without being pretentious.

How quick and efficient was the hotel check-in?

Sign-in was smooth and pleasant and we were given a handy map of the resort, its facilities and extensive gardens.

Did we feel welcomed by staff?

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Certainly. From the moment we entered the resort, we were greeted warmly. Throughout our stay, we found the staff to be polite and helpful.

Were we offered help with our luggage?

No – but we didn’t ask for assistance either. The vast size of the resort means that it can be a considerable walk from the car park.

Did the hotel offer free wifi – and how did it work?

Sebel Resort and Spa has free wifi for guests. On arrival, we were given the password – and signal strength was reasonably good.

This was a huge plus, as we were not forced to seek out wifi at coffee shops, restaurants etc.

The room experience

Our double room was ready when we arrived and was modern, spotlessly clean, comfortable and large. (In fact, the resort’s website says the rooms are an average of 29 square metres)

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There was a comfy, king-sized bed with individual readings lights;  a LCD TV set with cable channels; a roomy ensuite, mini-bar, breakfast bench, writing desk and plenty of wardrobe space.

The cable TV worked perfectly and there were no problems with the en-suite.

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Extra heavy drapes kept out any street light, although the resort is located in a country area close to the foot of Australia’s Blue Mountains.

Free bottled water, hair dryers, and irons/ironing boards were also provided, as well as complimentary cookies, tea and coffee making facilities

The room contained individually-controlled air-conditioning and heating and a telephone. On arrival, the air-conditioning was operating to create an ideal temperature.

Power points

To our delight, there were four power outlets close to the bed for charging our phones, iPad and camera.

This was particularly convenient and appreciated, as we use our phones as morning alarms.

There was also a power point in the ensuite, which we used for an electric razor.

Towels and bathroom accessories

Our Sebel Resort and Spa ensuite was also stocked with quality Appelles luxury bath products.

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There were ample soft and fluffy towels changed daily if you needed them.

Food and drink

Because we had long days touring the heritage attractions of the area, we didn’t dine at either of the on-site restaurants or use the around-the-clock room service.

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It was a similar story with the resort’s bar, which features a full-sized snooker table.

However, we enjoyed a full cooked breakfast, which couldn’t be faulted.

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Where is it?

Located in the historic town of Windsor, the resort is a 45 minutes’ drive from central Sydney and 50 minutes from Sydney Airport.

Would we recommend it?

Yes. Undoubtedly.

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Australian Senior-friendly hotels

Review: Golf View Units, Wellington Caves, Australia

Our last road trip to the Central West of New South Wales, Australia, had a dual purpose.

Firstly, we wanted to take a close look at the east-west road link, the Golden Highway, which is rapidly growing as an important travel route following the opening of the Newcastle Expressway.

But there was also an element of nostalgia, as we took two of our grandchildren back to a section of Australia where we had spent much of our youth.

For accommodation, we detoured about 59 kilometres off the Golden Highway route to newly-updated Golf View Cabins at Wellington Caves.

This was done deliberately to allow us to review the refurbished facilities and also see whether they were feasible for travellers to use as a base while visiting both the Wellington Caves and the Taronga Western Plains Zoo at nearby Dubbo, – two of the biggest attractions in the region.

Obviously, we also wanted to put the units under the microscope to see how the facility ranked in the senior-friendly scale.

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Golf View Units, Wellington Caves

 

Golf View Units, Wellington Caves

Wellington Caves are located in the Central West of New South Wales, about 353 kilometres or four hours and 40 minutes from Sydney on the Mitchell Highway – or 504 kilometres (five hours and 41 minutes) from Sydney via the Golden Highway. They are on the southern outskirts of the town of Wellington.

The attraction offers four levels of accommodation for visitors – sites for caravans and tents; four cabins for four-to-five people each; seven standard units capable of accommodating five; and seven Golf View units for five people.

Although primarily a camping area, the facility markets its units and cabins as self-contained accommodation for families and visitors, as well as overnight stops.

The Golf View units are so named because they offer impressive views across the adjoining Wellington Golf Course toward the nearby Bell River and surrounding hills.

Before arrival, did the holiday park communicate well?

The stay was organised by phone weeks in advance and we followed-up with an email a few days before arrival, to formally introduce ourselves and inform the park operators that we intended to review the accommodation. We didn’t hear from the park.

What was the first impression?

Wellington Caves are in a typical Australian bushland setting.

The Golf View units are in a prime position within a large and level reserve – with easy parking, sealed internal roads and impressive views.

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Although fairly bland-looking from the outside, the first impression is that the units appear solid, well protected from the elements and secure.

At the rear of each unit, there are screened wooden decks, from where we later relaxed and watched kangaroos feeding quietly on the golf course fairways.

How was the check-in?

Arriving in the early afternoon and were warmly greeted. It was just a matter of signing quickly and handing over our credit card.

We were given clear directions to our apartment, its adjacent parking space, and the park’s various facilities – as well as the timing and prices of caves tours.

Were we told about wifi and was there a charge?

At the time of booking, we were told that the park did not offer complimentary wifi – or any wifi at all.  This was disappointing.

Was the overall facility senior-friendly?

The approach to the accommodation is flat and you are able to drive right to the front door of the units.  There are no steps to enter the units.  This continues inside, although the unit we were given had two bunk beds (separate to the main Queen-sized bed) with a ladder to reach the top.  This was not particularly senior-friendly, however the bottom bunk is a double-sized bed which may overcome any accessibility problems.  There is usually scope to switch units if the ladder is an real hassle. The rear exit to the verandah is also flat with no stairs.

Outside recreation areas and the laundry are also on level ground, with easy access.

Although the bed ladder could be a drawback, we gave the units high marks on the senior-friendly score,

The rooms

The Golf View units are modern, in excellent condition, with quality and practical furnishings and decor. Security includes key locks on external doors, as well as security screening.

Our unit contained two bedroom areas separated by a divider/doublesided wardrobe.

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One bedroom area had a comfortable Queen-sized bed, while the other had a bunk with a double bed on the lower section and a single bed above.

Both the Queen-sized bed and the double bed were perfect for seniors.

Pillows, blankets and linen were supplied.

Kitchen

The unit had a well appointed kitchen, containing a fridge, microwave oven, tea and coffee making facilities, crockery and cutlery.

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The dining area had a table and chairs, a large-screen, wall-mounted television set and split-system air conditioning and heating. The unit did not have cable TV channels, another disappointment.

Bedrooms

Firstly, the beds were comfortable.

There weren’t any steps between the bedrooms and the living areas, although use of the top bunk required a ladder which was perhaps not ideal for some seniors.

Each sleeping area had adequate wardrobe space and the main one contained bed-side tables.

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The beds were served by overhead lights which could be switched on and off without leaving the bed (always a great idea) There was a bedside alarm clock.

Importantly, there were adequate power points alongside the beds for charging of phones, which in our case, also serve as wake-up alarms.

Bathroom

The bathroom was modern, clean and adequate, with shower, basin, toilet and hair-dryer.

Taps/water mixers were simple to use and did not require any force – again, ideal for seniors and children.

There was a complimentary toiletries container, with two solitary bars of soap, but adequate amounts of soft, fluffy towels.

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Laundry

Although we didn’t need to use it, our unit also contained an an iron and ironing board.

The park has a separate laundry block, with coin-operated washing machines and dryers.

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Tea and coffee

The kitchen contained adequate tea and coffee making facilities.

Outdoor facilities

Adjacent to the Golf View Cabins is an all-weather outdoor picnic and barbecue area.

The park itself also boasts an amenities block; on-site kiosk; camp kitchen; recreation room; and play equipment for children – all of which we didn’t require.

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It is within walking distance of the Wellington Golf Club and the park says it is pet friendly, although not in cabins or units.

It may be a ‘first’ for many children, but the park also features a public telephone – a rare sight indeed in this day and age.

There is also a swimming pool with shade sail, although this was clearly out of operation during our visit,

Would we recommend The Golf View Units?

In summary, the units are comfortable, spotlessly clean; accessible for seniors; located on the Mitchell Highway route to Sydney and close to the Golden Highway link from Newcastle and the Hunter vineyards.

The units are ideal for families and it is certainly feasible to use them as a base for visiting both the Wellington Caves and the Taronga Western Plains Zoo – as well as other nearby attractions such as the Osawano Japanese Gardens and Burrendong Dam.

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It would, therefore, seem sensible to market this accommodation to travellers from both Sydney and Newcastle – especially with the growing popularity of the Golden Highway link.

The Wellington units are a relatively short detour off the Golden Highway, which increasingly is being used by visitors travelling from Australia’s east coast to the Taronga Western plains Zoo at Dubbo.

By detouring to Wellington, visitors can stay at the units and see the fascinating caves as well as the zoo.

Suggested improvements

From our experience, the Golf View units and other accommodation at Wellington Caves would benefit if the park offered visitors a reduced fee on tours of the caves.

Complimentary wifi is also a must in today’s tourist market, especially if the park is attempting to compete for visitors to the Taronga Western plains Zoo. It’s a similar story with cable TV channels.

There is also a need for microwave cooking bowls etc in the unit kitchens and improved toiletries.

Would we return

Certainly – especially if wifi is provided.  This is a problem that the operators should tackle.

Australian Senior-friendly hotels

Review: The Wellington Hotel, Boscastle, Cornwall, UK

The Wellington Hotel, in the delightful coastal village of Boscastle, Cornwall, is an imposing sight.

Located in a 17th-century coaching inn with a castlesque turret, the hotel is tucked into the hillside overlooking the bridge that crosses Boscastle’s Elizabethan-era harbour.

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Copyright Memorable Destination 2013

 

We booked online before leaving Australia and – with the exception of Trip Advisor reviews – we knew little about the Wellington Hotel at the time.

However, all our research suggested that Boscastle was one of the most beautiful spots on the northern Cornish coast – and a ‘must-see’ destination.

Everything we had heard about Boscastle proved correct.

And the Wellington Hotel proved to be the icing on the cake.

On the way to northern Cornwall, we read that the hotel had counted among its guests Thomas Hardy, who fell in love in Boscastle; Guy Gibson of Dambusters fame; and members of the Royal Family. And we were soon to find out why.

Detailed review
Q: Were there any problems with the booking?

A: None at all. We had booked two months ahead of our arrival, yet when we checked the night before reaching Boscastle, the staff knew who we were and were expecting us.

Q: Was there adequate parking space at the hotel?

A: This is always a concern in southern England, as on-site parking can be difficult to secure at some coastal hotels. However, at the Wellington Hotel, we were able to park our hire car directly outside the front of the building, in a well lit and secure parking area.

Q: Did check-in run smoothly?

A: Like clockwork. the reception staff were friendly and efficient. Check-in took only a few minutes and we were shown to our room.

Q: Was the room as expected?

A: The room was spacious and straightforward, with traditional furnishings, a comfortable bed and an en-suite bathroom. There was a TV and tea and coffee-making facilities. The free Wifi worked well and the room had adequate and well-placed power points.

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Copyright MemorableDestination 2013

Q: Did the room have a view?

A: Yes. there was a pleasant view over the front of the hotel to the heart of the village and harbour walk.

Q: Was breakfast included?

A: Cooked breakfast was included. As usual at English country hotels, the breakfast was hearty and filling.

Q: Did you use the restaurant?

A: Yes, we had dinner on our first night at Boscastle – and the restaurant offered a large range of European cuisine in a stylish dining room.

Q: Would you return to The Wellington Hotel and recommend it?

A: Without hesitation.

Independently owned, the Wellington Hotel has 14 bedrooms, three suites and a public bar.

Senior-friendly hotels UK hotels