By Lesley Courtney-O’Connor, Travel & Food Writer
On leaving Sydney, for a three hour 45 minute drive to Mollymook, snow was forecast for Tasmania and the outside temperature was 14.5C. The car’s heating was turned up and navigating the urban sprawl was tackled in earnest. It wasn’t long before rolling hills, tinted with pale green, came into view and it was then possible to sit back and relax and enjoy being in the countryside.

Bannisters By the Sea

The booked Mollymook accommodation was at Bannisters by the Sea, where the welcome was warm and the instructions to find my room clearly explained. The most noticeable feature of the room was the balcony, not only containing two side by side day beds but a large spa bath, ready for use. The backdrop for this was an area of manicured lawn and some natural bushland, atop the cliff face and the ocean. It was a beautiful outlook.

The room itself contained a well dressed King sized bed and an amazing marble bathroom with one wall of glass between the shower and the bedroom. Thankfully, that glass wall also had a blind to use, if privacy was required.

Collette Dinnigan suite Bedroom

Unfortunately, the hotel’s signature restaurant, Rick Stein’s at Bannisters, seating 110 people, was closed on this visit (closed Monday and Tuesday in the cooler months). It has since reopened seven days per week. With Bannisters’ Fish Pie, containing black truffle and the classic French Lobster Thermidor on the menu, there would be no doubt that to eat there would be an occasion not to be missed.

Table view

Other dining options included the Bannisters’ Pool Bar (offering Bites, Pizzas and Desserts) and the Rooftop Bar and Grill at Bannisters’ sister hotel, The Pavilion which is five minutes away by a courtesy shuttle bus. The salmon with shaved sprout salad, smoked almonds and pickled turmeric was well worth the trip to the Rooftop Bar and Grill. The staff at both venues were friendly and very efficient and every effort was made to accommodate dietary requirements.

Pool bar
Rooftop Bar and Grill

Considerable renovations have taken place over the past two years providing a facelift to rooms internally and externally, installing Turkish tiles in the guest lounge and Rick Stein’s restaurant as well as new carpet, light fittings and a bar. A new Garden Room, seating 45 people, has been incorporated in the renovation of the restaurant, to cater for smaller functions as well as the various wedding bookings etc. There are also a number of smaller rooms for guests who may be with a group, to relax and enjoy the wonderful cocktails, drinks and atmosphere.

Restaurant lobby lounge

A new line of merchandise, available near reception, has been introduced. It includes a number of Rick’s books, which can be signed, ceramics, cashmere scarves, caps etc.

Various special events are held at Bannisters during the year. These include Tea by the Sea (freshly baked scones, jam, cream, tea or bubbles on Wed – Sun, 2.00 – 4.30 pm. Bookings not required), a Friday Lunch Special ($45 for two courses and $70 for three courses. Bookings are essential, a Two Day Event including a cooking demonstration by Rick (next one to be held in April 2019 ) and a Long Table Lunch with various celebrities or authors invited to speak.

Bannisters also has a well equipped Day Spa which provides a range of different treatments including Couple’s Massages, girl’s group’s sessions and pre natal massages.

Couples massage

There are a multitude of activities to enjoy in the local area, information for these being readily available from the Information Office on the Princes Highway, Ulladulla, adjacent to the Library in the Civic Centre. Also, see The Cupitt Winery was well worth the visit as was the coastal walk through the South Pacific Heathland reserve, overlooking Rennie’s Beach. The historical town of Milton has a number of interesting shops and includes an Art Gallery and Antique shops.

As time ticked away at Bannisters and the feeling of relaxation set in, there occurred a reluctance to leave. With all there is on offer, surely a repeat visit could be factored in, hopefully at another time of year, for a different, as well as enjoyable experience.

Contact Details for Bannisters by the Sea
191 Mitchell Parade, Mollymook Beach NSW 2539
Rooms Rates from $340 per room per night per double including Continental Breakfast