Thrilled at the prospect of a luxury night in the rainforest, I arrived at Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat in a car brimming with wine, bathers and expectations. In the rear, where usually sits my wilful two-year-old, there was only crumbs and a conspicuous silence. My partner and I were facing a night alone in a rainforest retreat – at last.
The retreat touts itself as a romantic getaway designed solely for couples or individual guests. No kids allowed. And no wonder, as it has the perfect location. Just an hour north-west of Byron Bay, it’s surrounded on three sides by national parks, two of which are World Heritage. Look around and you’ll see any number of 160 bird species. Look up and you’ll see forest-clad Mount Springbrook, jutting handsomely above the forest ridge.
The property has six different types of rainforest accommodation in all – creekside spa cabins, two types of rainforest bungalows, glass terrace bungalows, a luxury rainforest lodge and the supposed pinnacle of the pack, the luxury mountain view lodges. Being booked into one of the latter, and typically starved of such experiences, my partner and I bounded towards our calling like drunks at the six o’clock swill.
Entitled Numinbah, our lodge was an open-plan home elevated above ground. The kitchen was thunderingly large, the lounge contained a leather sofa, whopping flat-screen TV, iPhone dock, surround sound, WiFi, and a fireplace. Touches included heart-shaped chocolates on our table and bed robes, and numerous tea light candles.
Near our large, comfy bed sat a deep marble bath beside thick glass, offering plenary views of the surrounding forest. Just a few feet away lay a shower head the size of a soccer ball, which offered the ultimate in aqua massage (possibly the finest shower I’ve had). Then there were the wardrobes sitting smartly behind the bed, all part of a well thought out design.
Heading onto the commodious deck, we were confronted with deck chairs, a table and chairs, BBQ, and a solar heated plunge pool. This was going to be good. In moments I’d cracked open a bottle of pinot, poured a glass and dragged it with me into the pool. The pool juts over the back of the lodge, bordering forest land that wallabies frequent. On this occasion, however, our pool party was wallaby-free.
What I loved
The solar heated plunge pool, marble bath and large deck. Managers Mark and Bronny were also the perfect hosts, polite and friendly, while they left you to your own devices (isn’t it nice when that happens!). There’s also numerous options on site if you want to explore.
A little further in the rainforest, there’s hammocks suspended above cascades. Now here’s a great place to cleanse an electronically defiled mind. Listening to fresh falling water, smelling the forest world and gazing towards the canopy under a gentle sway proved a tonic experience.
There’s also a quaint orchard near reception that looks like it could belong in The Secret Garden. It comes complete with charming benches, views of Mount Springbrook and small, friendly dogs that patrol excitedly about.
Things to know
You can bring your own food or purchase a gourmet hamper and cook it yourself in the kitchen or BBQ. Be warned, these hampers are very big (and delicious). Or, you could choose from a number of cooked meals and re-heat one yourself. There’s also a games room near reception with an ample selection of DVDs and CDs, while there’s eight kilometres of hiking trails on site that traverse fern-lined gullies.
The place is perfect for romantics, anniversaries or those about to pop the question. Catering for such occasions, Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat provides proposal packages under a 400-year-old fig tree, complete with a table and chairs, pole candles, Moet champagne, glasses, red roses and chocolate. Ooh la la.
Rooms start at $385 per night, reduced by $60 if you’re staying for five nights or more. Well priced rainforest luxury considering Mark and Bronny go that extra step. Book early though as it can get quite busy.
For more information, check out Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat’s website.