Hotel Check: Rae's on Watergo's
Location: Watego's Beach, Byron Bay, New South Wales.
Accommodation: seven suites, two of which are penthouses. Boutique property, decorated in a Mediterranean villa style with Italian marble tiles, teak furniture and Moroccan mosaics. Rooms have TV, video, stereo, mini-bar, and tea/coffee making facilities.
Background: built in the early 1970s, the property was the private home of Ruth Harris, an eccentric wealthy Australian who lived alone in the house with 100 cats until the early 1990s. The property became a hotel in 1995 after Vincent Rae bought it. Famous guests include the members of Led Zeppelin and Kate Winslet.
Facilities: swimming pool, steam room, courtyard, restaurant and bar.
Activities: surfing, kayaking, whale watching from June to October. The property is surrounded by two national parks and there is a walking track up to Byron Lighthouse - picnic hampers available. Surf boards can be borrowed from reception -Watego's is one of the best beaches in NSW to learn to surf and tuition is available.
Cost: from £138 per couple per night with Tradewinds.
Innovations: major refurbishment with spas being added to a number of rooms and massage centre also planned for September 1999.
Weddings: clients must book entire hotel. Cost available on request.
Food: a superb menu, with a great fish selection including red snapper, mudcrab, red emperor, yamba prawns and yellow fin tuna. Patio tables available. Restaurant prices are not cheap, but well worth the money with an entree costing from $18; main from $28 and dessert from $12. Don't miss the creme brulee and sticky toffee pudding!
Overall opinion: rooms are outstanding, as is service with21 staff to seven rooms. Little extras make the stay - staff put candles, fruit, flowers and incense in rooms and arrange dinner on the beach or by the pool on request. Suits upmarket couples, particularly honeymooners, without children who appreciate good food and wine in a quiet location.
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