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Stylish Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is the only 4.5-star hotel in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is the only 4.5-star hotel in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region


By Ellen Hill for The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa             Photos: David Hill

It could be the tinkling water features dotted around the property. Maybe it’s the sweeping lawns of the golf course or the subtle fragrance from the day spa floating on the breeze.

Location is part of the appeal

Location is part of the appeal

It’s probably all that combined and then some which makes The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa a perfect getaway venue.

The location is an instant winner: on the edge of the historic town of Windsor at the foothills of the world-famous Blue Mountains.

Just an easy 45 minutes’ drive from Sydney CBD and 60 minutes from Sydney airport, its close enough for a spontaneous romantic rendezvous, girls getaway, corporate retreat or wedding party. Book a mid-week stay for total tranquillity.

Enter the driveway of the only 4.5-star hotel in the Hawkesbury and Nepean region and nestle into the embrace of luxury.

With white leather lounges, the pristine lobby sets the tone: light, bright and airy with an ever-present sense of quiet and serenity.

Clean white spaces and archways everywhere

Clean white spaces and archways everywhere

Actually, there’s white everywhere. Goodness knows how they manage it but everything is spotless, from the crisp bed linen in the 105 rooms and suites to the highest corners of the numerous arched corridors indoors and out, which is just as well given the number of bridal gowns which sweep through them.

Set within 8ha of manicured, landscaped gardens, The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa has been built around the historic barracks and is now a series of buildings connected by indoor and outdoor covered corridors.

The Sebel offers several dining options

The Sebel offers several dining options

It has eight formal and five informal meeting spaces, a kiddies playground, an indoor heated pool and several dining options including the light-filled Gazebo Restaurant with huge breakfast buffet, the formal Harvest Restaurant and Barracks Bar for casual drinks, light lunch or snack and a game of snooker.

For those seeking to stay on top of their physical game, there is a gym with spa/sauna and aerobic and weights exercise equipment; two floodlit tennis courts; an on-site 9-hole golf course and 18-hole championship course next door.

Wander the rose-lined paths and come across the quaint 100-seat chapel, a perfect place for heavenly nuptials.

The Villa Thalgo day spa is a tranquil oasis

The Villa Thalgo day spa is a tranquil oasis

The ultimate bliss is a visit to the Villa Thalgo Day Spa. With 16 treatment rooms, an indoor heated pool, six-lap hydrotherapy exercise station, steam room, two hydrotherapy spa rooms, a couples room, blitz shower, a Vichy shower room, indoor and outdoor relaxation area and a host of half-day, full-day and even multi-day programs using the famous French Thalgo marine product line, it is a holiday destination in itself.

The only Village Thalgo Day Spa in Australia, it is the largest day spa in Western Sydney yet feels comfortingly intimate.

A visit to The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is luxury travelling at its best – without the hassle of a long-haul flight.

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is on Hawkesbury Valley Way (Richmond Rd), Windsor. Bookings and details: (02) 4577 4222, email  or go to

The on-site chapel seats

The on-site chapel seats 100 people


Fiji: postcard perfect getaway

Postcard perfect Fiji

Postcard perfect Fiji

By Ellen Hill                                     Photos: David Hill

“Bula Mrs Hill. Bula Mr Hill. Bula Master Hill.

“Bula scruffy dog.

“Bula sun.

“Naughty dog – you should be at home.

“Bula dog.’’

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The cheery sing-song chant continued for the entire 90 minute journey from Nandi airport to the front door of Fiji Hideaway Resort & Spa, annoying yet uplifting and amusing at the same time.

It set the tone for the whole seven-day visit to Fiji’s Coral Coast.


Fiji 08From the palm tree-lined beaches, the thatched huts, azure waters dotted with quaint fishing boats, sapphire-coloured skies, and strapping young men in sarongs, all the clichés were there in glorious real life. It was as if we had been engulfed by the pages of a tourist brochure.

After a tough previous few months, it was just what we needed, right down to being handed a coconut on the promenade by the grinning man who scampered up to cut it down.

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The Fiji Hideaway Resort was perfect: not too posh so we felt uncomfortable but nice enough to feel like a treat.

Our white bure (villa) was spacious, cool and clean, surrounded by tropical plants and with high ceilings, a queen size bed, an indoor shower (and a pretty spiffy outdoor one) and a front verandah.

Unheard of for us, we embraced the opportunity to “fly and flop’’ and didn’t leave the resort for three days.

With jobs that require us to be positive, polite and almost servile, it was a welcome relief to laze by the pool while resort staff scurried around at our beck and call.


Fiji 31We enjoyed the theatrical nightly kava ceremony, the lighting of the torches, the cultural stage performance each evening and got a buzz from the “personal’’ invitation to attend drinks with the resort general manager the afternoon we arrived.
Our tweenage son preferred our company, although the resort does have a kids club where resort crew look after the children with non-stop activities from treasure hunts to snorkelling and Fijian fishing lessons.


Fiji 14The resort website encourages visitors to meet the real Fiji’’ by visiting thefriendly locals’’ in nearby villages, although we suspect the many locals who work there feel obliged to welcome tourists into their personal spaces after serving their every need all day.

After three days of soaking in the cloistered embrace of the resort, we tentatively ventured beyond the protective gates and wandered down the narrow potholed road towards town.

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Just a few hundred metres down the road we were confronted by a man holding a machete.

He eyed us suspiciously.

We eyed him anxiously.

“Where are you going?’’ he asked.

“Just for a walk,’’ my husband said, aiming for a casual tone but achieving a warbled defence.

Why?’’ the man asked in amazement.Why you leave the resort?’’

Fiji 04He invited us to see his home. Well we had no choice, did we?

Sitting cross-legged on the bare earthen floor of the hut, a tiny naked child peeped around the doorframe as the man told us his hard luck story and asked for money.

The next day it was slightly disconcerting to see him elevated as an elder at the local Methodist church service, where we were amused by the spotlessly dressed children in their Sabbath whites, singing psalms like angels and squabbling like seagulls during the sermon.


Fiji 26While it is tempting to remain within the safe confines of the resort, it is worthwhile to stretch the boundaries and explore further afield.

We took an organised full-day tour to Robinson Caruso Island (arranged by the resort staff), where tourists can enjoy a bountiful lunch, educational tour and entertainment. There is also a bar, children’s water activities and basic hut accommodation.


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The resort shops are stocked with a range of items, from toiletries to clothing along with traditional novelties and snacks – all carrying a generous mark-up price.

The Hideaway has a full gym but we steered clear of physical torture, preferring a massage at the day spa and a lounge by the pool.



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Apart from the raw sausage served at the “traditional Aussie BBQ’’, the only real downer was the lack of an ATM (we had to order a taxi and travel to the 5-star hotel down the road).

After building a sandcastle on the beach, going on numerous romantic sunset strolls along the sun-soaked shores of the majestic ocean lagoon with year-round warm tropical waters’’ andpristine coral beaches’’, collecting shells and sipping rich cocktails by the pool, we truly felt refreshed.


Sometimes you just need a postcard.


Fiji 03Getting there

Several international airlines have flights into Fij, including Qantas, Air New Zealand, Korean Air, Pacific Blue, and V Australia. Air Pacific is the national carrier and has direct flights from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Christchurch, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Japan. The Fiji International Airport is located in Nadi.

The Coral Coast and the Fiji Hideaway Resort & Spa are a 90 minute transfer away. The resort’s reservations staff can organise a transfer at the time of reservation via private car, taxi, or coach (fees apply).


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Getting around

Sightseeing around the Coral Coast is a must, with beautiful beaches and coral lagoons to explore. Taxis are available from the resort to visit Sigatoka for duty free shopping or the tour desk can organise a rental.

We rode the public bus into Sigatoka, which cost only a few dollars.



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