We really didn’t think we’d get a chance to travel again before the end of the year, but not only have we managed to fit a trip just before Christmas, it’s also my birthday!
So as well as all the lovely gifts Jim and the rest of the family organised for my special day, I get to spend it in one of the most magnificent parts of New South Wales in a very special hotel.
We’re in the Fairmont Resort and Spa in Leura, the hotel with the auspicious address of Sublime Point Road. And I can see what they mean.
The Fairmont (formally Fairmont Resort and Spa Blue Mountains, MGallery by Sofitel) is an enormous alpine lodge style hotel with these incredible pitched ceilings and a balcony in the main reception that looks down on Embers – one of the three restaurants.
The grounds are just as expansive.
Aside from the pristine 18-hole course, there’s a huge lagoon-style pool as well as an olympic sized heated indoor pool.
In this part of the resort there’s also a games arcade, a mirror maze and a 500m² ice rink, which is due to open early next year! There’s also a horse-riding stable, a high-wire course in the trees and a beautiful wellness spa… we’re quite overwhelmed at how much there is to do here.
And that’s before you start looking at all the bush walks and hiking trails on your doorstep.
We’re in the equally impressive Megalong Suite tonight – an enormous room with a spa bath and long balcony. On our dining room table is a lovely cheese plate and bottle of local wine to welcome us.
Jim pretends to take credit for it, but doesn’t try very hard. The hospitality of this resort is wonderful.
This evening, we’re dining at the newly opened Misty’s Restaurant. Views out over the Jamison Valley from this fine-dining eatery are spectacular… but then we see the food, which eclipses anything we see out the window.
Misty’s serves a three-course menu to the lucky 20 tables they accept a night. You can opt for matching wines or order from the smartly curated wine list.
We trust our server Marco, who recommends the matching wines and he’s absolutely right.
This stunning garden seascape is my entree of Hamachi crudo. With it are two types of caviar (the bright blue one is scampi eggs), sea succulents and yuzu foam. I’m thrilled to see they’ve used sea grapes here too – something I haven’t had since our trip to Okinawa.
Oh, and the wine is a surprisingly good sparkling from Greece!
The wine list here really is extraordinary. Mercifully, it’s not as long as a lot of restaurants, where the book lands at your table with a shuddering thud. Instead, it has a considered cast that fits with the artworks that come from the kitchen.
This red from the Margaret River for example matches my duo lamb dish perfectly.
The food here is honestly astonishing. And when Marco tells us there are just two chefs in the kitchen doing it all, we’re even more confounded.
Jim’s main of poached marron with a crab congee and beurre blanc sauce is rich and opulent, while my perfectly frenched lamb lollipops and also a slow-cooked piece of lamb belly is a filling forceful dish – truly satisfying.
Also the side of white asparagus with the freshest, richest hollandaise deserves a mention.
Quite possibly the most humble head chef we’ve ever met, Emilio is nothing short of a genius. You can’t tell, but he really didn’t enjoy this photo op, but the legend still agreed to it.
And when we tried to compliment him on the food, he just blushed and hurried back to the helm. To be fair, he was probably quite busy too.
After dinner, we take a slow walk to the main entrance of the resort to the newly opened Two Doctors Whiskey Tavern.
Surprisingly big, this subterranean bar has a wonderfully whimsical feel somewhere between a rather grand speakeasy and a medical museum.
It’s so called because the owner of the hotel is Dr Jerry Schwartz, indeed a surgeon. With his friend Professor John Rasko, Jerry has had a distillery in the wings for some time now making Australian single malt fittingly called Two Doctors Whiskey.
Finally able to release their whiskey, the two doctors have also launched this very fine bar of the same name.
Around the dark walls above comfy Chesterfields and cosy nooks, shelves of Jerry’s old medical equipment and books give the bar a notion of precision as well as old-world charm.
We relax into the sofas and enjoy a couple of the house cocktails. Jim seems very at peace here!
Guiding us through the impressively stocked whisky cabinet is the equally impressive Dwayne Ninnis. His knowledge of single malts – indeed all whisky and whiskey – is singular.
He promises us a tour of the cabinet when things have quietened down a little. In the meantime, we sit down to another exquisite cocktail.
Unfortunately the Two Doctors Whiskey is still in its final stages of production, though Jim enjoyed a boulevardier at Misty’s which used a Two Doctors Whiskey.
We’re really impressed with the cocktails here at the Two Doctors Whiskey Tavern. Not only are they perfectly prepared and stunningly presented in keeping with the aesthetic of this unique bar, they remind us yet again that hotel bars have changed forever.
No longer are they overpriced and lacking atmosphere. This bar is a destination in itself.
The cherry on the cake is the live music. A beautiful voice and a guitar of incredible skill, these musicians brought to light once again the elegant speakeasy vibe of the Two Doctors Whiskey Tavern.
Watch this space for more info and reviews on all these elements of the Fairmont Resort.
All too soon our stay at the Fairmont is over. But we linger in Leura a little longer, enjoying the shops and delightful main street of this charming mountain town.
It’s been a long time since we were in Leura last, but it was also one of the last places we went to before Jim’s visa ran out when he was living here in 2000 – when we first met.
Before we leave, we visit Mills and Beans – a remarkable homewares and gift shop just off the high street in Leura. Set in a turn-of-the-century mountain cottage, each room of this shop is filled with beautiful collections, local art and books.
In fact we find a few of our friends’ products in here, like Alexx Stuart’s Low Tox Life book.
Of course, we couldn’t come all the way to the Blue Mountains and not come and see the Three Sisters.
This striking rock formation represents the local Indigenous legend featuring three sisters Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo of the Katoomba tribe. They fell in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, but their tryst was forbidden.
It caused a tribal war that put the sisters’ lives in danger, so a local witchdoctor turned them to stone to protect them only to die himself in the battle. So the sisters remain to this day, forever doomed to watch over the valley and the mountains.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this special Weekly Edition in the Blue Mountains and we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and new year. This is the penultimate story from us for 2021, but we’ll see you again in 2022.
Take care – Christina and Jim xx