The Hunter Valley is a destination we thought would need to be relegated to being a (hazy) memory of our hedonistic pre-parental life. But a weekend of booze, banter and ballooning at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort Hunter Valley with kids proves this is one wine region that can be as fun for children as it is for their parents.
Our bright and airy two-bedroom villa feels just like home, only bigger, more modern and delightfully free of the kids’ Lego landmines and piles of neon detritus. So what it really feels like is how I wish our home did.
The bedrooms upstairs, with their made beds, are roomy and offer plenty of storage as do the two spacious bathrooms, where towels are cleverly placed on racks instead of the floor. Downstairs an open plan lounge and dining area offers the kids wads of space to sprawl out and there is a gourmet kitchen for those people who are not me and are seeking to self-cater.
Instead, come meal time, you’ll find me in the resort’s main building at one of two restaurants where people not only serve up sublime food with a smile but wash the dishes afterwards. There is a fabulous fine diner, The Restaurant @ Cypress Lakes where we enjoy perfect steaks, succulent seafood, crispy quail and incredible desserts. And the more casual Cypress Lakes Bar & Bistro is the place a peckish Sugarpuff heads to down a rather good pizza.
In the stunning main lodge there’s also a bar and plenty of lounge areas where could meet my friends to enjoy cocktails and a natter… and enough space for Sugarpuff and her friends could drive her brother like she stole him.
For us, the best thing about Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort is seeing the kids enjoying all that extra space and having the freedom to play in it, both inside and out. Sugarpuff is especially enamored of the huge deck area off our villa, mostly for the visiting kangaroos who she chatters to while we enjoy one of the resort’s excellent cheese boards and a couple of glasses of the Hunter’s finest (which in the kids’ case is local tap water).
When we’re not making the most of our villa or the incredible facilities at the recently refurbished resort, we visit a few of the local cellar doors that prove so family friendly we can taste wine untainted by whining. But there is also plenty of grape-free fun to be found.
Raffles and Sugarpuff are particularly fond of Hunter Valley Gardens, just a two-minute drive from Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort. With its ten feature gardens, including one inspired by storybook characters, plus special events including the magical Snow Time in the Garden, the epic Christmas Lights Spectacular plus fairground attractions and rides during the school holidays, there’s no chance the novelty will wear off anytime soon.
And of course, there’s an epic morning adventure in Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort’s brand new hot air balloon, an extraordinary experience that you can read about here.
But really, there’s no need for us to step foot out of Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort. The kids happily while away hours bashing around tennis balls on the courts, strolling around the fairways of the 18-hole golf course for a spot of kangaroo stalking, and taking a splash in two of the resort’s three sparkling pools.
Then it’s time to kick back for lazing and/or acting like loons on a couple of groovy deck chairs while we relax with a few more wines from the bar.
Yeah, yeah, I know it is becoming a theme, but this is Wine Country, it’d be rude not to.
Disclosure: The Eats World were guests of Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort but all opinions, wine consumption and kangaroo bothering remains our own.