Stepping onto the balcony of our room at Victoria’s at Ewingsdale I can’t wipe the smile off my face. Beyond the hotel’s lush tropical gardens, I can spy the Byron Bay coastline and its iconic lighthouse glinting at me. Ambient rainforest sounds play on the CD. I need somebody to pinch me – it’s just too good.
Only a few hours before, tempers had been fraught. Blame a dodgy undercarriage, a few choice expletives and having to summon a motor mechanic before we could even begin our journey. As we turned off the Pacific Highway onto the tree-lined country road that led to Victoria’s at Ewingsdale, however, our moods lifted.
Victoria met us in the driveway and showed us through the elegant lounge, the country-style kitchen where we were invited to sample her daughter’s home-baked cookies (who could resist?), out into the courtyard and into our luxury Executive Spa Suite, delivering handy pieces of information along the way.
Delighted with our Provençal-style pad, Mr Smith flops onto the king-size bed and sinks into the piles of soft, white damask cushions. I set my sights on the spa bath, which is plenty big enough for two. From my bubbling oasis, I look across the room and out onto the palm trees waving in the breeze. And relax…
Our rumbling stomachs force us out of our haven and into Byron Bay, a 10-minute drive away. There, we stumble upon Thai Lucy. Mr Smith’s green chicken curry is everything it should be – fragrant, creamy and packed with succulent chicken and vegies. I’m swayed by the recommended seafood special – grilled king prawns in an ‘ethnic Thai sauce’. It’s so tasty that I try to extract the recipe from the chef but, like Colonel Sanders, she keeps schtum.
Waking up the next morning, our plan for Saturday is to be active. Mr Smith has macho notions of surf lessons, kayaking and mountain biking, but the storm clouds overhead mean that isn’t going to happen. The offer of champagne with breakfast at the hotel totally lays to rest any activity fantasy. We tuck into the buffet and then the day’s special – Victoria’s ethereal cheese soufflé. It’s light, airy and utterly delicious.
Dodging heavy rain (just my British luck), we potter around Byron’s boutiques. It isn’t all tie-dye and New Age wind chimes as I remember from a previous visit; Byron Bay’s a tad smarter these days, but it still has a distinct hippy-chic charm.
By lunchtime we’ve bought enough surfer gear to look the part, even though we went nowhere near a board. Instead, we nab a table at the Beach Hotel and take in the view of the hardier, all-weather surfers. My pumpkin soup is laced with just enough pepper to provide a warming kick on a damp day; Mr Smith says the same about the shiraz.
Suitably sated, we head back to Victoria’s to chill out. Finally the sun appears, so we pop to the pool for a bout of exercise at last – well for me anyway. I power up and down the salt-water swimming pool, while Mr Smith reclines on a sunlounger with the papers. When I finally come up for air, I find him chatting to a couple of fellow guests and enjoying a sauvignon blanc. They’re discussing whether Victoria’s would make a good venue to celebrate a ‘significant birthday’. The verdict? Yes, it would – and can we have an invite please?
Tempted as I am to join them, I have a better option – a massage. Victoria has phoned 10 local therapists to ensure I get a treatment at the time that suits me. Therapist Kim works wonders, and I float back downstairs to join Mr Smith an hour later.
It’s back to Byron for the evening, kicking off with bubbly at the Balcony Bar & Restaurant – a brilliant vantage point for people-watching. Mr Smith finally has to tear me away as we have a dinner reservation at Fishheads. Good job we’ve booked, too, as it’s buzzing (thanks for that tip, Victoria). We’re glad we take the waitress’ advice, too, to sample the new seafood tasting menu. It’s a gourmet fish feast. Mr Smith has slight food envy when the mixed seafood grill with lobster and Moreton Bay bugs wafts past, but I’m enthralled by the oysters with soy and wakame seaweed dressing, barbecued tiger prawns, salmon with chilli salsa and the decadent chocolate espresso torte for dessert.
Retracing our steps to Victoria’s, we bliss out on our balcony with thoughtfully provided glasses of port, and gaze out at the lighthouse sparkling in the distance. The moon is full and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. It’s a shame the weather didn’t clear earlier, but Mr Smith points out that we’re better at eating and drinking than surfing anyway.
Victoria’s at Ewingsdale really is a special place. It’s romantic, peaceful, cosy and relaxed, and Victoria runs this and nearby sister property Victoria’s at Wategos
with charm and efficiency. On top of that, she paints breath-taking watercolours and even flies planes. The only thing missing is her Wonder Woman outfit. How does she do it? And what is the secret to her sensational cheese soufflé? I shall have to return to find out…