Bangalay Luxury Villas in Shoalhaven Heads on the NSW South Coast opened in late 2018 but had to close, reopen, close and reopen again thanks to a bumpy baptism of fire, floods and pandemic. But this stylishly serene resort offers no hint of its turbulent birth.
The villas nestle onto the landscape directly across from Seven Mile Beach, a couple of hours south of Sydney. There is no need to shriek their presence near this coastal national park - the low-key stylish design does all the talking.
The resort adjoins a golf course on one side and is across from the beach so it's quiet and private with the villas all radiating off a wooden boardwalk surrounded by native gardens. Prepare to be wowed by the pool area at the end of this walkway with its wooden deck, clear fencing, clean lawns, sun lounges and a cane swing seat suspended from a shade tree that invites you to stay, no matter the weather. A fire pit near the open-sided restaurant is the perfect spot for an evening drink, or grab a table outside in the warmer months. Bikes are on a rack ready to grab if you fancy a pedal into town.
The neutral tones and restful lines that make this resort so sympathetic to its surrounds continue inside. Our one-bedroom villa is spacious yet snug. The lounge has a large TV and an instantly warming gas fire but the sun-trap of a verandah with its comfy chairs and birdsong soundtrack keeps us warm and thoroughly chilled till late afternoon. A flask of iced tea on arrival is a nice touch and we can't resist sampling the breakfast hamper: good bread, croissants, yoghurt, muesli and jams. The galley kitchen is well-equipped if you want to dine in, with oven, dishwasher, microwave, fridge and pod coffee. The bathroom has underfloor heating and Aspar products. There's a king bed with a second TV and free Wi-Fi. If you're intending on an action-packed break bushwalking, kayaking or horseriding, then the full laundry may come in handy – but that toasty sun with a light breeze carrying a hint of the ocean and a glass of wine render us immobile. In spring, beauty brand Minenssey will provide their Clay Mask Exploration Set complimentary to all guests.
There are excellent food options not far away in Gerroa, Gerringong, Berry, Kangaroo Valley and Kiama, but the resort restaurant, Bangalay Dining, which is open to the public as well as to guests, has put Shoalhaven Heads on the food map. A sleek wooden bar runs along one side of the restaurant and sculptural native flower arrangements add drama. Head chef Brent Strong combines fresh local produce with Asian flair and native ingredients. The results are memorable and inventive. Try the six-course tasting menu – highlights? Kangaroo bunya bunya saltbush, and fermented barley black fungi, quince and brush cherry. Bangalay is also inventive when it comes to the way they showcase their food. Dining events include a Friday night oyster experience when prized local oysters are served in different ways with paired wines or spirits.
Seven Mile Beach spreads 12 kilometres north from Shoalhaven Heads to Gerroa. It's dazzling in sunshine, dramatic in the wet, and is right next door. There will be dolphins – look carefully – whales in winter and surfers of all ages. Shoalhaven Heads is quiet outside of the camping/caravan season but there is plenty to keep you active. If you've ever wanted to go horse riding on a beach – now's your chance. Bangalay teams with the nearby Regal Riding School for sessions on the same beach Charles Kingsford Smith used a as a runway for the first commercial flight between Australia and New Zealand in 1933. Once you're beached-out, head to nearby Berry, Gerroa, Gerringong or Kangaroo Valley for a mix of restaurants, cafes, book stores and galleries. Or drop in at the wineries just up the road – including the much awarded Coolangatta Estate which dates back to the 1890s.
Bangalay Luxury Villas allow you to be snug and chilled at the same time. A truly restful or rejuvenating weekend or mid-week escape.
Rates from $410 per night – packages available. There are 16 one-and two-bedroom villas plus a four-bedroom holiday house.
No-contact check-in is available for these COVID-19 times. Plus Bangalay Dining is now offering in-room restaurant meals, gourmet picnic hampers and takeaway options from their bar menu as well as a limited number of seats in the restaurant.
The peace, the quiet – that beach.
Shoalhaven Heads is surrounded by interesting food and shopping options but has few shops or restaurants of its own.
Jane Richards travelled as a guest of Bangalay Luxury Villas