Moon Gazing at Mollymook: the New Bannisters Pavilion
Bannisters Pavilion, Mollymook Beach
My husband, Peter, is a natural cynic. Whenever a “special offer” comes our way, he does the maths and more often than not gives me reasons why it’s less than a genuine one. Occasionally, however, we come across a genuine deal and book it without delay. Case in point our 2-night stay at the new Bannisters Pavilion on Mollymook, promoted by Luxury Escapes.
With normal hotel rates ranging from $250 - 600 per night, the Luxury Escapes Bannisters Pavilion package included a 2-night stay for $199 per night. Also included in the deal was buffet breakfast on both mornings, a complementary bottle of bubbles in the room on arrival, and assorted drinks/ meal/ spa discounts in tow. Having previously enjoyed our stay at Bannisters by the Sea, its sister hotel, we booked for a Sunday and Monday night at Bannisters Pavilion.
The scenic drive along New South Wales’ south coast is one that we have done countless times before but enjoy each time like it’s our first. Called the Grand Pacific Drive, the 140 kilometre coastal route starts from the Royal National Park in Audley (Sutherland Shire) and goes through rainforests, over the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge, and through the coastal cities and townships of Wollongong, Shellharbour, and the rolling hills of Kiama. As we drive from the coastline to hinterland, we make the obligatory pit stop at Berry. With her enchanting gardens and small town loveliness drawing us in like a beacon, a short coffee break and snack sustains us until we get to Milton.
Pilgrims Vegetarian Cafe, Milton
Within the City of Shoalhaven, the pocket-sized town of Milton is only an hour’s drive from Berry and signals that we’re just a stone’s throw away from the seaside town of Mollymook. Having blossomed into a holiday destination in its own right, the Saturday night lantern-lit walking tours give visitors an accurate notion of what the historic town would have looked like in the 1800s. As for us, there is nothing we’d rather do than meander through heritage buildings filled with bookshops, boutiques, galleries, and a thriving cafe scene. Home to our favourite vegetarian cafe, Pilgrims, their Bliss Burger - mixed grain pattie, fried onion, avocado, cheese, tabouli, sprouts, special sauce & peanut sauce on a toasted wholemeal roll - never fails to put a smile on my face and leaves me hankering for another visit.
Rooftop Bar & Grill and Foyer of Bannisters Pavilion
At last, we arrive at Bannisters Pavilion. A sleeker, more stylish “beach chic” version of its “By the Sea” sister, it’s a mere 80 metres from the fine sands and surf of Mollymook Beach. Airy and light filled, the hotel design features a wall of glass framing a landscape of eucalyptus forest on one side and private balconies on the other. All 32 well-appointed suites include high ceilings, adjustable lighting, on-trend designer touches , and sleek and modern designer bathrooms with loads of room to move. All the wining and dining takes place on the top level by the pool, at the stunning cantilevered Rooftop Bar and Grill. A courtesy vehicle is available for guests to and from the sister hotels, ideal for those who wish to dine at Rick Stein’s or enjoy a treatment at the Day Spa.
Our Sunday evening began exquisitely with drinks at the Rooftop Bar & Grill as we watched a glorious rainbow frame the horizon. However, our much anticipated dinner at Rick Stein afterwards (at Bannisters by the Sea) proved disappointing. With two out of the ten seafood mains a curry (I love my curries but prefer to taste my seafood), two lobster dishes (too rich), and the Whole Snapper sold out, I didn’t have much of a choice left. I reluctantly settled on an underwhelming plate of Fillets of Mirror Dory with a Warm Mediterranean Salad while Peter fared much better with a fuller flavoured Bannisters Fish Pie. While the separate starters of scallops and zucchini flowers were enjoyable and the service was efficient and gracious the entire evening, one expects a culinary symphony from start to finish at those prices.
Supermoon 2016, on Mollymook Beach (NSW)
Our second night’s stay at Bannisters Pavilion was rather special as it coincided with the rise of the Supermoon, which occurs when a Full Moon coincides with the Moon's closest approach to Earth - also called perigee. As t his would be the closest a Full Moon has been to Earth since 1948, we braved the gusty winds and cooler temperatures to watch the spectacle of nature on Mollymook Beach. Positioning ourselves just beyond the surf club by 6:45 pm, we gazed on in wonder as the 2016 Supermoon ascended in all its glory at 7:10.
Having just witnessed a natural wonder in such picturesque surroundings, we floated back to Bannisters Pavilion on a high. Heading straight for the Rooftop Bar & Grill, we shared a starter of fried calamari with chili and lime over our favourite tipple. Dinner consisted of a Lebanese Grilled Chicken for Peter and a mussel dish with rice for me. While the dining experience at the Rooftop Bar & Grill was a more casual affair than at Rick Stein, we found it more satisfying (and far easier on the pocket, I might add).
Check out the following morning was at 10 am, which we managed easily and seamlessly after breakfast. Settling our account and saying our goodbyes to Ali at the front desk, we were presented with a 10% discount card (with a 12 month validity) for our next stay. Feeling refreshed and energised after our 2-night break, we decided to add Bannisters Pavilion to our favourite “Nearcation” destination list. We will definitely be back.