I am a Spa Rat from way back.
This is not news to anyone who’s been a regular around here.
For new SY readers, a Spa Rat is someone who will purposefully book a holiday around its location in relation to a day spa.
A Spa Rat will spend hours scrolling through websites and social media to determine the standing and quality of the spa she has in her rat-ish sights.
Once the spa meets her expectations, she does not hesitate.
See, the most important quality a Spa Rat possesses is her understanding that booking before you arrive at your destination is not only recommended, it’s essential.
For nothing disappoints a Spa Rat more than being in close proximity to a spa and not being able to secure an appointment.
Weekends or during peak holiday periods require forward planning. A Spa Rat knows this and will even be known to book her spa appointments months ahead.
Now, this Spa Rat didn’t book months ahead but when our holiday hosts, the BabyMac clan, sent me in the direction of the Bells at Killcare Day Spa (and restaurant and accommodation) website then I knew I’d found my summer holiday target.
Bells at Killcare on the New South Wales Central Coast offers boutique-style overnight or holiday accommodation. Yes, it would be AMAZING to stay there. So fresh, all that East Coast Hamptons’ blue and white.
But as day guests what called us up the hill and away from our beachside locale was the Stefano Manfredi restaurant and the aforementioned day spa.
Bells at Killcare Day Spa
Let’s talk about the day spa first, shall we?
I booked our massage treatments for mid week. Something to look forward to. Long enough into our week away to already be relaxed; enough time left on the holiday to really enjoy.
Bells at Killcare Day Spa is housed in a separate, small building adjacent to the hotel’s main reception and restaurant building. The gorgeous decor style of the whole hotel follows through to the spa.
It’s not a huge spa – there were two or three treatment rooms and a small reception and lounge/locker/powder room area downstairs and one couples’ treatment room (which we shared) in the attic space upstairs.
The spa uses Australian-created product range LI’TYA. You can read the full philosophy behind these indigenous Aboriginal-inspired products here but in a nutshell they use “only the purest grade essential oils and only the highest quality native plants, flowers, fruits and muds … in conjunction with unique Australian Aboriginal healing techniques”.
The aim is to create a spa experience that will be relaxing but will also connect those on the receiving end to the heart of Australia.
I can very much vouch for that relaxation and connection factor.
I booked myself in for Gubbera Rocks massage (60 mins $175). Think hot stone massage but with hand-carved stones from northern Western Australia. The stones are massaged using LI’TYA’s Kodo massage method.
Native essential oils are used – I had a choice of three blends and chose the Detox (it “spoke” to me … go figure, ’tis the season and all that 😉 ) – and the therapist worked the stones using rhythmic movements and pressure point massage.
The drool/snore factor was extremely high (a very important by product of a Spa Rat experience), so much so, I was unconvinced my front side had even been touched. It was, of course. The oil and my blissed-out state at the conclusion were testimony to that.
Beth had not had a massage since before she was pregnant and Bells offers the Mama Kodo pregnancy massage (60min, $140) so I booked her into that toot suite.
A form of the Kodo massage is used but without using pressure points. Essential oils are also omitted – a macadamia and camellia oil blend is used instead.
Instead of being on your front first and back second; Beth was massaged on her side – half the session on each side.
Beth said she was so grateful to be lying down and spending an hour away from her kids she was happy to be anywhere but felt the therapist was under the time pressure of a busy spa schedule.
To be honest, this was a feeling I had – not during – but after the treatment. There was a small bench seat downstairs for us to sit in in our robes and enjoy a herbal tea while we waited for the locker room to be free to change into our clothes but because there wasn’t a dedicated receptionist we were made to feel we needed to leave straight away (and “close the door behind you please”).
I really like a spa to offer the whole post-treatment relaxation experience. I think they could develop the courtyard area at the back of the spa and open it as a place to sit a while, encased in your white robe enjoying and extending the whole escape.
But maybe this wouldn’t be such a thing if you were staying at the hotel … you’d just float back to your room.
Manfredi at Bells
Bells at Killcare is also home to Manfredi at Bells – think Italian-inspired cuisine with an Australian urban flavour in a coastal setting.
Much of the produce used at the restaurant is grown or sourced locally. The restaurant itself is in the main manor house at Bells. Inside it’s a sea of blue and white and quite formal.
On the verandah overlooking the beautifully manicured gardens, there is a more relaxed feel and that’s where we found ourselves (wise move on the restaurant’s part considering our kids in tow) for the weekly Sunday Family Feast (adults $70 each; kids 3-13 years $35).
Four adults and three kids sitting down like an Italian family would to enjoy breads, antipasto, pasta, the most amazing roast rib fillet I’ve ever tasted and dessert.
All is served at your table, family-feast style. I loved this. It meant that the kids were happy to try foods they otherwise would not.
Every dish lived up to the Manfredi reputation and the whole experience was one I’d love to repeat. Soon.
New South Wales Central Coast
It may seem an unusual holiday destination for a Queensland family but we are damn lucky to be friends with two families with beach houses in this area.
I’ve written before about the New South Wales Central Coast – an Easter destination for us for the past two years with the Woogsworld – and this year has proved a beautiful summer delight.
Early beach mornings in crystal clear turquoise water, bacon and egg rolls for late brekky and slow afternoons on the deck cooking up a storm.
Here are some visuals …
(we ordered a Sunny Jim sun shade and had delivered to the beach house – best last-minute beach holiday decision ever)
On the shopping front, I was delighted to return to Moochinside in Hardy’s Bay and I’m hoping to take a sneak peek at Honey I’m Home in Umina after Mrs Woog’s recommendation.
Moochinside is a beautifully curated fashion and lifestyle store with seemingly a story behind every piece stocked inside.
I came away with a few beautiful things but could have easily bought more.
For more information about holidaying on the New South Wales Central Coast, visit here (and check out the Facebook conversation below … great tips from locals!).
Have you visited this area? Been to Bells at Killcare?