I’m On Top Of The World

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So who can keep a secret in Armidale? Obviously not ME! Yes, the rumour is true: yours truly, Editor of New England FOCUS, is getting married to a wonderful man from Inverell named Daryl Germany. My fiance (saying that word feels great, giggle) only has one condition. That I plan ALL of the wedding, and the only thing he wants to know is where and when.

A girl’s wedding is the special day of her life, when she wants to look and feel her most glamorous, when planning for the occasion must be perfect, and she wants to be surrounded by and share the thrill with her best friends in the bridal party.

I’ve had pretty much 45 years to think about my wedding day. Yes … I’m a late bloomer and all the more keen to ensure my special day is a dream come true … all the more time to build up my expectations. I’ve had this picture-perfect wedding entrenched in my thoughts for years.

I was determined that even the planning and the prelude to the event must be special, building wonderful memories from the start. I decided that one of the first steps – sharing the news of my engagement and inviting my best friends to be my supporters on the day – needed to be done in person, to make the moment enjoyable and memorable.

But … my girlfriends are scattered across the country: my matron of honour in Moree and one of my three other chosen bridesmaids living far away in Melbourne. I needed somewhere central for us all to meet to share the joy, a glass of champagne, and the delicious anticipation, to gossip, catch up, laugh and to toast the future.

Where better than The Observatory Hotel in Port Macquarie, where I’ve holidayed several times in the past – a coastal escape easily accessible by road from New England and the north-west and by air from the major capitals.

I wanted nothing but the best. I booked an Observatory penthouse and sent out the call for my besties to join me there.

The penthouse is huge and feels as if you’re far away from any other guests, alone in your own private palace in the sky. Most of all, it looks out over Port’s main beach and rolling surf – the view to the ocean’s far horizon a motif for the boundless future ahead for me and my fiance and our lifetime together.

I wanted to reward my friends for travelling out of their way to meet me and to make the time an unforgettable occasion in itself. And they were truly blown away when they stepped into the penthouse vestibule, greeted with complimentary liqueur chocolates and a cool glass of wine. I hadn’t yet told them of the true reason for our get-together, but straight away they knew something special was happening.

That’s what the penthouse is all about: immediately, it gives guests a sense of occasion. Whether you choose it for an engagement, honeymoon, anniversary or other family event, its sweeping reception rooms blending seamlessly via ceiling-height fold-back glass doors with its massive paved ocean-view terrace scream ‘let’s celebrate!’ With three well-spaced bedrooms sleeping six, two bathrooms and an expansive fully-appointed kitchen that makes you want to entertain in-suite (and a big supplied barbecue, outdoor dining setting and sun lounges on the terrace) it’s bigger than most holiday houses and far more private.

When I broke my news to my friends’ cries of surprise and delight, we got right down into planning and party mode.

Dresses, colours, hairstyles and more – we tossed them all around among tears of joy and laughter, as the girls leaped to accept their invitations to join my bridal party, shared my excitement and helped shape my dreams for the day into reality. We splashed in the heated spa, pool and sauna, we danced across to the beach, and we spoiled ourselves with facials and treatments in the beauty spa. We dined on the terrace and breakfasted in the oceanfront café, shared popcorn and chic flicks on the widescreen TV and worked out to a Wii, collapsing in a heap of exhaustion, exhilaration and our bond of friendship that’s to be affirmed forever with these special women agreeing to be by my side on my wedding day.

It wasn’t all indolence, either. With some rare time off work for all of us, we grabbed the hotel’s new mountain bikes, fitted with iPod audio-visual tour commentaries – a real novelty and the first on the NSW North Coast. The iPod device is mounted on the handlebars, and we were led by our virtual ‘guides’ around the town’s beaches, river and historic sights, landing with our backpacks at a pretty picnic spot at Settlement Point, the place where Port was first settled nearly 200 years ago.

The location is known for its dolphins, and we laughed as a pod made a salutary ‘swim past’ just as we arrived – as if they were celebrating my engagement and coming wedding day too.

My choice to stay in the penthouse was perfect in every way, and I’m now thinking of hosting my hen’s night in this ideal rooftop retreat. Goodness knows, it’s big enough, and already holds special memories for me. Then, of course, there’ll be our wedding anniversaries to think of …

Info: Expensive? Well, no. The North Coast’s most awarded hotel offers special deals year-round. Observatory penthouses have all the luxury appeal and all the top-notch appointments.

Compare the price of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom guest rooms with the penthouse tariff, and it could be the choice for you, for families, up to three couples and other small groups looking for a stylish getaway. See the hotel’s video at www.observatory.net.au – check out the photo gallery, take control of the live beach cam, chat free to an online consultant, explore package offers, enter competitions, make an online booking or call 6586 8000 to discuss availability and best rates.

FOCUS New England readers are treated to complimentary bike hire with iPod audio tour for two adults and two children.

This story was published in issue 65 of the New England Focus

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