To give a full account of everything that was good about a night at Crystal Creek Meadows would take more space than is usually allotted for a review.
From the moment we arrived, I was put in mind of the poem "Cargoes", by the former English poet laureate John Masefield. Masefield’s poem enumerates in just 87 words the sense, sight, sounds and smells of three bulging container ships, packed to the rafters with gifts and exotic treasures.
The cottages at Crystal Creek Meadows are similarly packed.
Masefield’s poem speaks of a "Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores."
Our cottage – the aptly named "Billabong Spa" as we were to discover – also possessed an array of treasures.
Here is what struck me when I first walked in the door: The divine decor; ABC classic FM playing; a bedroom; a perhaps even bigger bathroom with a fantastic spa and disabled access; an oh-so-comfortable sitting room; a gloriously stocked kitchen, featuring a washing machine, fridge, stove and microwave (and I’m getting to the food); TV, DVD and video player; a fireplace stoked and ready to go; a veranda with a beautiful aspect, and privacy; essential oils, made on the property, and an oil burner, made on the property (a gift); and a king-sized bed to top it off.
And then there was the food and drink: chocolates on our pillows; a separate box of chocolates accompanied by a carafe of port; on the kitchen table, a selection of lamingtons, scones, Tim Tams, Anzac biscuits and assorted other delights; in the fridge, a bottle of champagne, a bottle of locally-made sauvignon blanc, a basket containing apples, oranges, grapefruit, from-the-property chook eggs, mushrooms, ham, spring onions, milk, yoghurt, whipped cream, a selection of divine locally-made Indian ready meals, and locally-made pickle to go with it; not to mention three types of cereal, coffee, both instant and real, and teas galore to choose from.
Ordinarily one would not bother to list the perks and individual pleasures of a given hotel or cottage, but Crystal Creek Meadows really was that good, in fact so overwhelmingly perfect, that it was difficult for this author to do otherwise.
The NSW Government agrees, too. Crystal Creek claimed the best hosted accommodation award in the state for the second year in a row, just two weeks before we arrived.
On the available evidence, it was not difficult to understand why. Crystal Creek will now represent NSW in the national awards, in which it was "highly commended" last year.
The proprietors, Sophie and Christopher Warren, have thought of everything with their four discrete cottages. Two, including the Billabong, cater for romantic couples; two accommodate families. On the property, one can go for walks through the gardens, feed the chooks, sit by the creek, or stay in and borrow board games or DVDs.
And Kangaroo Valley is not short of activities, either. The delightful Cafe Bella, a fixture in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, is a five-minute drive, and by no means the only place to eat in town.
There is also a local kayaking and canoeing company, for those who have a taste for adventure.
For those seeking the ultimate indulgence, an in-house day spa, complete with masseuse, is available as well.
And if that is not your cup of tea, arrangements can be made with Chris and Sophie to take their 1969 MG out for a tour of the local countryside, exploring the temperate rainforest.
In fact, it’s this last treat that brings me to one of the most interesting things about Crystal Creek Meadows – the property is also an environmentally friendly place to stay.
Chris has gone to great lengths to ensure the cottages’ green credentials.
Visitors to Crystal Creek can buy a tree for $3.50 to offset the carbon emissions from their journey.
The cabins are specially insulated and specially cooled to reduce electricity consumption (down 22 per cent and counting). All the power purchased for the property is green. In the sink of each cabin is a bucket that asks for all food scraps to be saved for the (very well fed, judging by appearances) chickens.
Chris says the message is that it is possible to indulge in life’s luxuries, but also to be eco-friendly.
The couple spent over a decade in the Middle East, and Chris likens his principles of hospitality at Crystal Creek to the Middle Eastern idea of how a guest should be treated – in short "Offer them everything. It’s about giving rather than focusing on price." Chris, who is originally from Britain, says Australians must be the guardians of the country’s tremendous natural beauty.
If he hadn’t employed green power-saving measures, the property would have had to plant 400 to 500 trees per year to offset carbon emissions, he says.
"Instead it is 55 trees a year. It’s not about having a political persuasion, it’s about the local environment."
"I use specific varieties of trees. Where we sit today was once 100 per cent temperate rainforest. We want to enhance bio-diversity. We have platypus and echidnas on this property, and up to 150 bird species."
So in addition to being a luxurious getaway par excellence, when visiting you can also feel good about the difference to the local environment the cottages, and their custodians, make.
Crystal Creek is a good place to relax; a fine place to indulge; a wonderful place to unwind.
It’s even a good place to get engaged. [Which James did!]
Even the bathrooms come with a view at Crystal Creek Meadows, a place where luxury doesn’t come at a cost to the environment.