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5 of the Best Luxury Family Resorts in NSW


5 of the Best Luxury Family Resorts in NSW

Five resorts we love which are great to go to with kids, and better yet, are within 2 hours’ drive from Sydney.

There’s a saying among mums that a holiday with kids is just more of the same old stuff in a different location. (That’s a PG way of saying it, but you get the drift.)

And while that can be true, there are some family resorts in NSW that nail the kid-friendly holiday. These establishments work hard to cater to both you and your kids, so you can actually feel like you get a break.

So we’re sharing five resorts we love which are great to go to with kids, and better yet, are within 2 hours’ drive from Sydney. Who said you have to spend another minute among piles of washing, toy explosions and bickering rugrats?

Instead, decamp with your tribe to one of these beauties and relax in 3… 2… 1…


Wildlife Retreat at Taronga Zoo

This family-friendly eco-retreat on the fringes of the famous Taronga Zoo adds a whole new layer of Zen to ‘seeing the animals’. Checking in at the Retreat lobby – complete with its epic fishtank

and bar/café overlooking the harbour – sets the scene: you’re in for some serious luxury. Only Retreat guests have access to this area, so it never feels too crowded.

There are a range of rooms to choose from (Animal View rooms are the most popular for obvious reasons). The rooms are gorgeously decked out with rustic hues and comfy beds – and they go the extra mile to make kids feel welcome (the hotel wrote a personalised note for our kid and added a mini kangaroo soft toy to wish him a happy birthday, after I mentioned it when booking). 

Zoo entry is included in the price (and entry is via a sneaky side gate off the Retreat so you can avoid the queues!). There are guided night wanders through the Zoo itself (about $25 per person and so worth it), and exclusive access to the Sanctuary. This private area is just for retreat guests and it’s a kid paradise: roly-poly echidnas tumble around your feet, elegant peacocks strut past, you’ll see lizards and sweet tammar wallabies, and koalas snoozing right above your head. 

Me-Gal, the fine dining restaurant within the Retreat, does beautiful food (and caters to kids too).

Animal view room Taronga Retreat

Wildlife Retreat at Taronga Zoo

Crowne Plaza Terrigal

Crowne Plaza, Terrigal


Crowne Plaza Terrigal 

Terrigal on NSW’s Central Coast is about a 90 minute drive from Sydney and has such a blissed-out family vibe. The strip is full of eateries and boutiques; there are great coastal walks and the beach includes Terrigal Rock Pool, which isn’t good for laps but perfect for littlies who love a paddle.

The big pink art deco drawcard is of course Crowne Plaza Terrigal, which faces the beach and features an iconic scalloped pool, giant jacuzzi and panoramic views. There’s a gym, day spa and ‘family zone’ during school holidays, with giant chess, putt-putt golf, bean bag throw and more. But if the beach is calling, the hotel happily supplies buckets and spades – ask at the front desk.

Rooms are a decent size but the suites (with terraces) are far more spacious and perfect for families, even though the décor in places is a bit tired. If you don’t want to brave the strip, food options within the hotel abound, from buffet brekkie at the Lord Ashley Bar and Lounge, to cocktails and nibblies during the day from The Deck by the pool, and high tea every afternoon. Generous pub grub is on offer at the Terrigal Beach House on the hotel terrace (be aware there is live music on weekends and you can ask for a quieter room if you think you’ll need one).


Headlands Hotel, Austinmer Beach

The sleepy coastal town of Austinmer, 60 minutes south of Sydney and 20 minutes from Wollongong, is full of old school charm. It’s also home to the shiny, new-ish Headlands Hotel, a resort plonked on top of a cliff with breathtaking beach views, comfy outdoor areas, a decent-sized pool and grassy slopes for the kids to work off a bit of steam.

All ages are catered for with the eating options – the Brasserie and Bar is open for all meals, the Sundowner Terrace is good for a tipple and a snack, and on weekends the shiny 1968 Airstream comes to life, serving up an assortment of delicious dumplings and woodfired pizza. If you want to work off your lunch, take a wander on Little Austinmer Beach below the hotel, or head further afield for a walk and a dip in the twin rock pools of Austinmer Baths, not far away.

The hotel’s 50 self-contained apartments are airy and spacious, with contemporary décor and leafy beach views (beware of the cheeky cockatoos who like to visit your balcony in hopes of a snack!). Our apartment was a little dark, so ask when you book which apartments would be best for natural light – the apartments higher up or the penthouses are probably a good bet.

Fairmont Resort, Leura, Blue Mountains

Posh hotels are plentiful in NSW’s Blue Mountains, but none scream kid-friendly holiday quite like the Fairmont Resort just out of Leura (and a 90 minute drive from Sydney).

Best bits? No kid can possibly be bored here. There’s so much to do, whether you go ice skating (yep, there’s a rink), catch a flick at the cinema, play games on the lawn, hit the arcade, or take a dip in the indoor or outdoor pools. There’s a merry-go-round for little ones, the Fairmont Express mini train, play centres for under 5s, Magic Kingdom for over 5s, and even a mini ten-pin bowling alley. Worst bits? It can be noisy because – you’ll be holidaying with lots of other families!

For the parents? There’s a day spa (yay). A quirky whisky bar squirrelled away in the hotel basement, complete with chesterfield lounges, plush velvet chairs and live music on weekends. Multiple food options include a steak house, a casual Italian eatery, a lounge where you can get a cuppa or a cocktail – and the family-friendly Jamison’s Restaurant. The breakfast buffet is also fab.

Choose from a heap of different room types, including family suites –  but there are only two of these so our hot tip is to book two interconnecting courtyard rooms instead. 

Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains

Fairmont Resort, Leura, Blue Mountains

Rydges Resort Hunter Valley

Rydges Resort, Hunter Valley

Rydges Resort Hunter Valley

When you think of the Hunter Valley… you might conjure up images of roaring fires, wine, cosy couples weekends… but what about the kids? Well, the good news is, you can have your Hunter Valley getaway and keep the youngsters happy, too, at the Rydges Resort in Lovedale.

The resort has a great range of accommodation to choose from (including Kids Suites, pool access rooms, and 1, 2 or 3-bedroom villas). Facilities for kids are also top-notch, including a fully-supervised Water Dragons Kids Club (for ages between 3-12). It’s run by a team of childcare professionals almost as a mini resort for your children, ensuring you can get some much-needed downtime at the spa, on the golf course or going for a wine tasting tour.

There’s also a mini electric train here, an on-site water park and teen lounge and games room for older kids. On the food front you’re spoilt for choice – choose from the Lovedale Café, Lovedale Bar + Grill, Vista Lounge or in-room dining. 

Beyond the resort, our picks would be the Hunter Valley Gardens (great for kids), and a cheeky visit to the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company – both in Pokolbin.

By Rachel Smith