Holiday in Gold Coast

During the long Easter weekend a few months back, our little family had a short getaway to one of Australia’s most popular holiday destination – Gold Coast! I have been meaning to blog about the trip much sooner but there was always something that got in the way. Anyway, as they say, better late than never. :) We only went for a 4-day trip, and being our first domestic vacation that required a flight, we, especially Little J, were particularly excited! Everything was pre-booked, from our airport car park, accommodation, car rental, travel insurance and of course, flights. Yes, even though it’s just a short domestic trip, there are lots of things to arrange!

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Grumpy face at the airport

There were plenty of flights from Sydney to Gold Coast daily, and I chose the 11+am flight allowing us enough time to drive to the airport, park, and take the shuttle to the departure gate. We left home at around 8.30am, thinking there should be plenty of time for us to get there since we only needed to be there about an hour before departure time. However, as luck would have it, Saucer missed a turn into the tunnel when we were about 10km away, and we were stuck in terrible traffic then! The traffic was so slow and clock was ticking (we found a stalled car in the middle of the road after ages!!), so needless to say, I was getting really worried about missing our flight! Also, because we wanted to save on the expensive car park fare, we had pre-booked to park at the Blu Emu car park which was a few kms away from the airport. We were also meant to take the shuttle from there to the airport, which meant extra time that would eat into our buffer. I think we eventually parked with about 45 minutes left to departure! We quickly removed all our luggage and a stroller from our car and ran to the shuttle, which was thankfully making its rounds just then, and just prayed for the best. By the time we reached the check in counter, we saw a message saying flight delayed for 30 minutes! Never was I so happy to see a flight delayed in my life! :) At that point, we heaved a sigh of relief and just continued queuing in our line.

After about 5 minutes or so, there was a ground staff walking up and down the line, asking if anyone was going to Gold Coast on a specific flight. It turned out to be our flight! So she asked us to move straight to the front of the counter and allowed us to check in straightaway. I love how the Australian airports operate – when it’s near the gate closing time, they would just give priority to whoever was still in the line queuing and allow them to check in first. I’d say I’d rather they do this than to keep everyone in the plane waiting!

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Much better :)

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Daddy and Little J

Once we’re at the gate, Little J was curious with everything and sat on various seats just for fun. Thankfully, the flight itself was short, about 1 hour plus, so it wasn’t too tough to handle the toddler. We kept him occupied with iPad and snacks most of the time. Once we reached the Gold Coast airport, we had to call our car rental company for them to come and pick us up to their depot. It only took 5-10 minutes for them to arrive and their depot was less than 5 minutes drive away. So it wasn’t that much of an inconvenience for almost 1/3 of the price compared to rentals at the airport!

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Waiting for our rental car pickup

We stayed at the Meriton in Broadbeach, which was rated #1 in TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, our check-in experience was far from #1. We arrived at around 1.40pm and were told that our room would take about 20 minutes to be ready. That was fair enough because the standard check-in time according to their website is 2pm. I was hoping to get the room by then so that Little J could have his nap. However, more than 20 minutes had past and still no one came to inform us that our room was ready yet. I got a little annoyed and asked Saucer to check with the counter again. He was told that the room was being made up so we just needed to wait for another 5 minutes or so. Needless to say, 10 minutes passed and still no word. Worse, we saw people who arrived after us getting their room keys! At about 2.30pm I was getting quite frustrated because we had already waited almost an hour and still no room. The guy at the front counter told me that it’s going to need another 20 minutes (!!!) and apologised for the delay because we requested for a baby cot so that needed extra setup time. By then, we were hungry and tired and Little J was getting cranky too. Finally, at about 2.50pm, we got our room keys! Once we got in our room, what do you know? The cot was not even there!!! I was furious to be kept waiting for more than an hour, to be told that our room needed more time due to the cot, only to find that the cot wasn’t even there in the end. Anyway, no point getting angry at the start of the vacation, so I just quickly let Little J nap on the king size bed. The cot eventually only arrived when we were out for dinner, and only because I reminded them again by then.

Chilling at the lobby

Chilling at the hotel lobby

Making himself very comfortable :P

“I can slide down this!”

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Selfie!

Other than the sour check-in experience, the stay at Meriton was pretty pleasant to be honest. I loved how the rooms were kept tidy and modern, how the kitchen was so completely equipped with lots of utensils, gas cook top, range hood, microwave, oven, full-size fridge, toaster and dish washer! Basically, everything you need is there. The living room floor was still damp when we arrived, which meant that it had just been mopped minutes before we entered. The room’s bed was as big as a King-sized one, but it was really 2 king single beds joined together (a shame). Otherwise, the pillows and sheets were plush and comfortable. There was also a fully-equipped laundry room with a washing machine, dryer, laundry basket and detergent provided. It was so convenient because we were sweating every day from going to theme parks, so I could do all my smelly laundry before heading home!

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Kitchen and dining area

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Living area (floor still damp)

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Bedroom

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View from the balcony 1

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View from the balcony 2 – Jupiter Casino

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Balcony

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Toilet and bath

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Shower too!

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Laundry area

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Utensils

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Cooking utensils

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More utensils!

Our room was situated on the 20th floor and boy, was it windy at the balcony! Saucer and I used to live in high-rise apartments back in KL and we never had problems with height. However, after a few years of living in a landed property here, suddenly we were terrified when we were standing at the balcony! LOL! We also made sure Little J never stepped out to the balcony because it just felt so open and insecured with the strong wind.

Another plus point with the Meriton was the proximity of the beach. It was merely a few minutes walk to the famous Broadbeach and we took a walk there before our dinner on the first night. The weather was nice and cool but not freezing in autumn. Little J was so happy to be walking on the super fine sand on the beach that he didn’t want to leave. Our only regret was not allocating more time to go to the beach during the day time because we spent most days at the famous theme parks in Gold Coast. Will write about them in the next few posts!

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Chilling at the beach before dinner

When The Lights Go Out

This happened more than a year ago, before Little J was born. Saucer and I were in the middle of our nightly TV date (something we do after dinner until now, just to have some adult couple time) and suddenly, the TV flickered and went off, followed by the lights. Within seconds, the whole street was dark! At least, we found comfort in knowing that we were not the only ones affected. It was rare that we would have power outage without any warnings but it happened and we were frantically looking for candles, torch light, lighter, matches, anything!

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Multi-coloured candles

We ended up using our trusty torch light to guide us through the house. We had no idea how long the outage was going to take and our torch light was slowly fading since we had not been charging the batteries. Obviously the torch light was not going to be able to last through the night, so we switched to candles. Thinking back, I wish we had these pretty Air Wick multicolour scented candles then. I just got these candles recently and they’re pretty cool. Not only do they emit a nice scent, they actually illuminate in rainbow colours! It was the first time I saw candles like this and I was literally mesmerized by them. Imagine how romantic it would be to have candlelit dinner with these candles that keep changing colours? In fact, I don’t need to wait until there’s power outage to use them anymore. I’m thinking of using them during dinner tonight just for fun. :)

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Air Wick multicolour silhouette candles

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Rainbow colours on the candle

Apart from these cool candles, I also got the Air Wick Filter & Fresh air freshener, except that it’s not just an air freshener. It is also an air filter! How good is that? We’re all used to the conventional air freshener that masks bad odours, but Filter & Fresh actually removes smells, delivering a cleaner, fresher fragrance . It’s like having 2 devices in 1 – I really love this product! Think about it, even when the fragrance oil is used up, this device will still be useful as an air filter to trap odours. :)

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Air Wick Filter & Fresh and Multicolour silhouette candle

This is how the Filter & Fresh works:

  1. Filter & Fresh breathes in bad odours via a powered fan
  2. The Odourtrap™ charcoal filter traps the bad odours
  3. The Filter & Fresh fan breathes out a signature Air Wick fragrance
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Inserting the fragrance oil

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Different intensity settings

Needless to say, our Air Wick Filter & Fresh now claims a permanent spot in our home, right next to the telephone. I now love coming home to a great-smelling sanctuary, and knowing that the air that my family breathes is also free from bad odours gives me a peace of mind.

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Air Wick in our home

CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!!!

airwick

WIN these goodies!

Since this is the season of giving, why not try your luck at winning the Air Wick Filter & Fresh and Air Wick Silhouette Candles? Entering is easy. Just sign in with your name and email address and follow the instructions on Rafflecopter below. If you do both actions listed, you will get 2 entries! Entries close 19/12/2014.

*Note: Contest is open to Australia and New Zealand residents only.

 

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Our Baby Moon

Some of you may already have known this – the reason that I have been blogging a lot less for the past few months is that I was pregnant. Yes, I used the past tense, because I have recently given birth to a beautiful baby boy. :) The feeling is indescribable to say the least. I am currently still under the Asian practice of confinement for a month, and at the same time getting used to waking up every 3 hours to feed the baby. It’s definitely not easy and it’s taking a toll on me by making me a constant zombie. But I’m sure things will only get better. :) In the mean time, I would like to just quickly blog about our mini baby moon that we had about 2 months before baby was due. We went for a weekend trip to Tea Gardens near Port Stephens, about 3 hours from Sydney.

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About 36 weeks 

Port Stephens is known for its many gorgeous beaches, but the ones we were closest to were located at Hawks Nest. During our visit, the weather was mostly windy and cloudy, making it extremely cold to stay out for long. The good thing about it was that the beaches were deserted and it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

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Beach at Hawks Nest

Before heading out to the beach, we checked in to our accommodation at Tea Gardens Club Inn Motel. We paid for a double room but found out that there was an extra bed given on the side. I thought this was convenient for families.

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Our beds

Tea Gardens

Queen size bed

Tea Gardens

Sliding door entrance

The room was nothing to shout about – everything provided was basic and practical. There was complimentary breakfast provided but only in the form of cereals, milk, some bread and jam.

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Complimentary breakfast

The bathroom was huge, with a spa bath included! We didn’t use the spa bath though, since we thought it would waste quite a lot of hot water. Such environmental-friendly of us. *LOL* The toiletries provided were very basic, there wasn’t even toothbrush or toothpaste in the set.

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Bathroom with spa bath

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Basic toiletries

Once we checked ourselves in and freshened up, we headed to the nearest beach which was about 5 minutes drive away – Bennett’s Beach. Due to the cloudy and windy weather, the pictures did not turn up to be as nice as they should be. Also, it was so windy and cold that we only managed to stay there for around half an hour before we decided to head back.

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Bennett’s Beach

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We had the whole beach to ourselves!

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A beer in hand to keep Saucer warm :)

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Us at Bennett’s Beach

Couldn’t even keep my hair in place for a picture! :) Despite the cold weather and the wind, standing there facing the deserted beach listening to the sound of strong waves lapping did make us forget the world. It was a nice ending to whatever was left of the short daylight time that we had. Tea Gardens is such a small and quaint town that it took barely a couple of minutes to finish exploring the town centre. It was also filled with friendly people with smiles, so we felt right at ease. Our next task was to find a place for dinner!

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Bennett’s Beach in the evening

Tea Gardens Club Inn Motel
2 Yalinbah Street
Tea Gardens, NSW Australia.
Phone: 02 4997 0911
Email: clubinn@bigpond.com.au
Website: www.teagardensclubinn.com.au

Heavenly Bed at Westin

During our short trip to Malaysia last month, we managed to squeeze out a night to stay at the Westin Kuala Lumpur Hotel, courtesy of our Starwood Privilege card. Since we could choose out of 3 different hotels, namely Le Meridien, Sheraton Imperial or Westin, we decided to go with Westin because of the famed Heavenly Bed. Booking was a breeze through our Starwood agent and we reached at around 12pm and were surprisingly granted check-in earlier than usual. Staying in Westin also meant easy access to various malls in KL such as Pavilion, Starhill and Fahrenheit88, all within walking distance!

Heavenly bed

Our room

Heavenly bed

Heavenly Bed

The first thing I did, after taking pictures, was to check out the Heavenly Bed. According to the information booklet, there are 10 layers on the bed, including a custom-designed pillowtop mattress, three 400 thread count sheets and a down blanket, a comforter, white duvet, five pillows, two king sized goose feather pillows, two standard non-allergenic pillows and a decorative boudoir pillow. Interestingly, you can also buy the said mattress at abour RM4k+ for king size. With all these layers, I have to admit I found it quite inconvenient to pull up the various sheets for cover at night. I had to make sure I got everything – the down blanket, the top sheet, the comforter and the duvet in one go. Of course, it helped that the bed was indeed plush and luxurious, and the goose feather pillows allowed me to sink into my sweet dreams at night. Once I was tucked in, I didn’t want to leave the bed! It was heavenly!

Day bed

The couch by the window

Flat screen LCD TV

Flat screen LCD TV and DVD player

The room was also fitted with a 40 inch TV with cable, so we were able to keep ourselves entertained in the evening while lazing back on the comfortable bed.

Bathroom

Towards the bathroom

The bathroom and toilet were spacious and clean, with a bathtub and a shower stall to boot. I also liked that their toiletries by White Tea smelled really pleasant and comforting. We were provided with 4 bottles of complimentary Spritzer mineral water, which I thought was a nice gesture. Most hotels usually provide just 2 bottles of their house-brand drinking water.

Bathtub

Bathtub

Bathroom

Bathroom sink and toiletries

Complimentary water

Complimentary Spritzer mineral water

Bathrobes and slippers were provided, together with ironing board, an iron and an electronic safe. The slippers were handy especially at night because part of the room was made from floor boards, which could get chilly to the feet.

Bathrobe

Bathrobe and slippers

Coffee and tea

Coffee and tea making facilities

The minibar was well stocked but they were, as with all hotels, charged with an exorbitant price. There really was no need to use anything from the bar because Pavilion is just right opposite the hotel, and you could get basically any drinks you want there.

Westin Minibar

Minibar

Snacks

Snacks

In the morning, we were greeted with a gorgeous view of clear and blue sky surrounding the KL city from our room. We could see the huge swimming pool at the Pavilion Residences, as well as the KL Tower in the distance.

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View of Pavilion Residences from the room

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View of KL Tower from the room

What can I say? I could only wish I was staying there a few more nights longer. But I did have one gripe though, there was no free internet in the room! At this day and age, I didn’t expect hotels to still charge (a high price too) for internet access. I wish this would be changed in the future, or there will always be something not quite perfect with the hotel.

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Westin Heavenly Bed in our Deluxe City View room

The Westin Kuala Lumpur Hotel
199, Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur 55100
Malaysia
Phone: (60)(3) 2731 833
Website: www.thewestinkualalumpur.com

Escape to the Mountains

Last week, Saucer and I had the chance to go for a little escape to the Blue Mountains for the weekend. We were there with several of his colleagues, and we stayed at the Fairmont Resort in Leura. Arriving there on a Friday afternoon, we were greeted with a blanket of white fog surrounding the resort, not to mention the freezing cold temperature. It certainly didn’t look like a good start to our getaway. Brr..

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Fairmont Room

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Lobby area

The Fairmont Resort lobby was huge and inviting, with solid timber floors and comfortable leather couches. The first thing I wanted to do was to sink myself into the couches! But we had more important stuffs to do – checking in!

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Newly refurbished recently

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Lobby couches

Apparently the resort was recently refurbished, which revitalized the over-sized rooms and suites with a contemporary makeover that pairs distinctive pitched ceilings, designer armchairs, distinctive hound cushions, luxurious woolen throw rugs, gourmet mini bars, and high-end amenities from the Gardenia and De Luxe Spa ranges, with large, modern ensuites, flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi internet access in all rooms.

Fairmont

Spacious room with King size bed

Fairmont

Plush and comfortable couch

Indeed, Fairmont kept its promise of spacious rooms and refurbished furniture, because we were really pleased with how new everything was. The bed was big and comfortable, the couches were new and spotless and the toilet was generously sized. I loved that they provided hair dryer in every room, because it is a big concern for us girls with long hair, especially in cold climate places like the Blue Mountains. The availability of an iron is useful for those attending conferences and meetings too, so that they could still look smart with nicely pressed shirts.

Fairmont

Toilet and sink

Fairmont

Bathtub

Fairmont

Toilet amenities

Fairmont

Digital safe, iron, kettle and hair dryer

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Comfortable living area

If there was one thing that I could pick on, it was the fact that we found the pillows provided too high and firm for us. We had a hard time adjusting our heads comfortably for a good night’s sleep at first, but later on got used to it. There were some alternative pillows available in the cabinet as well, so we found those to be slightly better than the ones on the bed.

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Generous amount of pillows

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Coffee and tea

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Mini bar

As usual, the coffee and tea area were well-stocked, so was the mini bar. But it goes without saying that items in the mini bar are usually sold at a premium. After checking in, we got around to explore the hotel facilities. There was an outdoor pool and jacuzzi available but they were off limits during that weekend due to maintenance. Fortunately, they have a similar pool and jacuzzi indoors, with heated water. So that was perfect! We spent quite some time swimming in the indoor heated pool and jacuzzi, perfect in the cold weather.

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Outdoor pool and jacuzzi

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 Billiards room

During our first evening, we spent most of our time indoors since the weather was not very accommodating outside. Most of the guys had some beer while enjoying a game of pool or snooker in the Billiards room. There was also a mini library next to the Billiards room, if you prefer some quiet time to yourself. Overall, I would say that Fairmont Resort met most of our expectations and even surpassed some of them, for a great resort located in a great location. We would be happy to recommend this to any travelers interested to visit the Blue Mountains in the future.

Fairmont

Fairmont Resort, Leura Blue Mountains

Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains
1 Sublime Point Road,
Leura NSW 2780
Australia
Tel: +61 2 4785 0000
Fax: +61 2 4785 0001
Email: reservations@fairmontresort.com.au
Website: www.fairmontresort.com.au

Escapade to Hunter Valley Wine Region

Moving to Australia was a big change for us, and one that did not come cheap too. Apart from the clear blue skies, we have to, unfortunately, live with the high cost of living here. Food costs 2 to 3 times more than back home, even before conversion. And for us new starters, we have to be even more prudent with our spending, at least for now. Therefore, traveling overseas is a luxury that we have to postpone, and cheap holidays are be our alternative. Thankfully, within New South Wales alone, there are tonnes of interesting places to visit. Aside from the many beaches within 30 minutes from the city, there are also plenty of farms, lakes and wineries within hours from the city.

Hunter Valley vineyard

Hunter Valley wine region

After our brief stay at Lake Macquarie, we drove further up north towards the world reknowned Hunter Valley in search of good wines and gorgeous scenery. First things first though, since we were planning on drinking, we had to make sure we’d have a place to bunk overnight.

Wine Country Motor Inn Queen bed

Queen Deluxe room

Finding a room in the middle of a long weekend is never an easy task, so I was pleasantly surprised when I managed to book a Deluxe Queen room at the 4-star rated Best Western Wine Country Motor Inn in Cessnock, just 10-15 minutes drive from the wineries.

Wine Country Motor Inn Queen bed

Queen size bed

Wine Country Motor Inn room

Dining table and LCD TV

The inn looked well-maintained and conveniently located, which was perfect for travellers. Woolworths and Coles supermarkets are literally steps away from the hotel, as well as some restaurants and fast food joints. We loved the idea of walking to Woolworths in the evening to get cheap and nice roast chicken for our dinner.

Wine Country Motor Inn bathroom

Shower stall

Wine Country Motor Inn toiletries

Towels and toiletries

Aside from the location of the hotel which we can’t stop raving about, it also had a big and comfortable queen size bed. There was a flat panel LCD TV in front, with a small dining table and chairs beside. The dining table proved to be extremely useful for our little meals during dinner and breakfast. There were also coffee/tea making facilities available next to the mini bar. Needless to say, that mini bar was filled with our bottles of wine by the end of the day! :)

Wine Country Motor Inn coffee making facilities

Coffee/Tea-making facilities and mini bar

Wine Country Motor Inn standard room

Looking from the entrance of the room

The toilet was spacious and clean with a decent shower stall. Toiletries were basic, which only included shower gel, shampoo, soap and shower cap without toothbrush or paste. Overall, we were pretty satisfied with our stay at Wine Country Motor Inn. For the price of $130, we had a clean and comfortable room with central location, not to mention during a long weekend. I’d say it’s a pretty good deal.

Wine Country Motor Inn Queen bed

Comfortable bed

Wine Country Motor Inn Cessnock

Best Western Wine Country Motor Inn, Cessnock Hunter Valley

Wine Country Motor Inn
5 Darwin Street
Cessnock NSW 2325 Australia
Tel No.: +61 (02) 4993 2999
Fax: +61 (02) 4993 2998
Email: stay@winecountrymotorinn.com.au
Website: www.winecountrymotorinn.com.au