by Kellea Croft
Mountain Heritage Hotel & Spa has tured 100 years old. Once known as the California, it is still affectionately called ‘the Cali’ by the Katoomba locals, and it recalls the days of grand guesthouses with elegance and style. Its castle-like tower, spiraling wood staircases, majestic statues and historic photographs lining the walls takes one back in time.
Built in 1908 by Herbert James Preston, Esq., it quickly became the finest establishment in the Blue Mountains. Garry and Bev Crockett bought the hotel 28 years ago and worked on a five million dollar renovation in 1998. It is the only remaining grand guesthouse in Australia still being used for its original purpose. It has survived the changes in society and the market over and over again to still provide every comfort a visitor could wish.
Families have been coming to the hotel for generations for the views of the Jamison Valley and the relaxed atmosphere. A couple married at the California returned for their 40th anniversary to reflect. A gentleman who had recently lost his wife to cancer returned to visit the place that she loved the most. Children are returning with their children as they have done for each family unit.
Former manager Ian Cannons, says that it is the homey atmosphere that brings people back. Relaxing by the fire in the lounge, reading in the library, staring out the window at the valley – the world disappears from around you.
“This is the most romantic holiday my wife and I take each year,” one client says. The atmosphere of each room seems to prove that statement correct. Sit by the fireplace and share a glass of wine. Relax on the veranda holding your loved one. There are so many possibilities at your fingertips.
Beginning in 1980, the hotel plays host to annual Yulefest celebrations from June to August. A small group of Irish immigrants had come to enjoy the snow they missed from home. As they sat around the fire talking about Christmas in Ireland, Garry got an idea—a traditional feast and decorations for his guests to enjoy. Now every year the lounge is filled with guests singing carols by the piano, Santa Claus visits the children and then they are led into the restaurant for a Christmas feast to share.
Jamison Valley Restaurant has an array of dining pleasures for your taste and budget. Many of the guests prefer to dine here than go into town. Fill your senses with good food, open views of the valley, and gracious hosts. A sample menu is listed on their webpage.
The hotel is located five minutes from the heart of Katoomba, just two hours west of Sydney. There are 41 rooms and three apartments in a variety of styles. Prices run from $198 a night per couple midweek, to $439 per couple for a suite on the weekend. Rooms offered are Heritage rooms, Heritage View rooms with large picture windows open to the Jamison Valley, spa rooms with fireplaces or balcony and full suites to accommodate families. All rooms have coffee/tea making facilities and include breakfast each morning. A bottle of sparkling wine and chocolates await your arrival and two free tickets to Everglades Gardens are a bonus. Romance packages are also available.
Located next to the Hotel is Spa Sublime, their very own day spa retreat. It has the same Heritage charm with polished hardwood floors, 15-foot ceilings and wrap around veranda. All products used are Australian made and locally where possible. Enjoy a massage, body & beauty treatments, Sunfx spray tanning or find one of their special packages. Mineral makeup and body treatments are made on the premises to suit each individual.
If you don’t want to miss out on your daily workouts, there is a full fitness center available. Mountain Heritage is keeping its figure at 100, let her help you keep yours.
With Old world charm with modern comforts and convenience, you will never forget the experience.
Mountain Heritage Hotel & Spa – www.mountainheritage.com.au
Spa Sublime – www.spasublime.com.au
Apex & Lovells Sts., Katoomba, NSW 2780 Australia
Phone: 61-2-4782-2155 fax: 61-2-4782-5323
About the Author
Kellea Croft has been published in Blue Water Adventures magazine, Intravel Magazine (July/Aug 08 issue), Jackson Herald newspaper, Helium.com and several newsletters. She also has one book to her credit.