It must be more than 20 years since I first stayed at Sails in the NSW mid-north-coast city of Port Macquarie.
I’m sure that the only similarity between then and the elegant resort of the same name now is location.
The original owners sure got that right. Sails occupies prime waterfront land right in the heart of this thriving city, just on the cusp of Port Macquarie’s CBD yet only a stone’s throw from direct access to some of Australia’s most attractive foreshore.
It’s not quite Benelong Point, but you get my drift.
Mind you, Port Macquarie itself has changed considerably in those 20-plus years, from a rather sleepy coastal city with a great position and climate but dependant largely on retiree resettlement, into a vibrant, cosmopolitan city that attracts broad range of tourists and has established its own momentum.
For the past few years it has comfortably maintained its place at the top of the standings for the fastest-growing city in NSW.
In 2015 Port Macquarie sported a population of just over 45,300. By 2027 its population is expected to reach nearly 60,000.
The position and climate haven’t changed. Just the growth dynamics. It’s not just a great place to retire to and to visit retired folks, it’s now also a great place to general tourism.
Central that development from a retirement hub to an all-encompassing tourist destination has been the development of a city-centre world-class resort such as Sails.
It certainly has made Port Macquarie a more attractive place to stay and put it well and truly on the international map.
Sails has the full compliment of facilities expected of an international-standard waterfront resort — 24-hour reception and access to what international visitors would all a bell-hop, private jetty, swimming pool and heated spa, off-street parking, and fast internet.
The internet and parking are complementary; my room spacious, beautifully outfitted, clean and very comfortable; the service just the way I like it — attentive but never fawning. And there’s plenty of hot water.
I’ve been awake since an ungodly hour to drive to Bathurst and catch to Sydney Airport. I’m in a strange (rental) vehicle. And I’ve missed the Port Macquarie exit. Yes, I’ve arrived at Sails somewhere between a huff and a tizz.
Rapid, easy check-in, plus a complimentary cold beer from the bar settle me down, though … and the bobbing yachts so close by my window to the rest.
Dining-wise, Sails is very much run by chef Garry Popowski and the staff of the Boathouse Bar & Restaurant, which serves buffet breakfast between 6.30 and 10am , and dinner from 5.30 to 9pm. It’s also open for lunch and usually also for casual drinks and dining.
The dinner menu is short and simple, and features plenty of delights from the ocean and also the hinterland — such as entrées of grilled East Coast prawns and basil-roast eggplant, and mains of black-angus eye fillet and glazed pork belly.
I can certainly vouch for the quality of my entrée of seared squid salad with lime and chilli, and the tenderness of the angus that was heartily recommended by the staff for my main course.
A fine finish to a long but wonderful pretty wonderful day. Goodnight.
IF YOU GO
Sails Port Macquarie: 20 Park St, Port Macquarie NSW 2444; phone (02) 6589 5100; visit www.rydges.com
Port Macquarie: phone 1300 303 155; visit www.portmacquarieinfo.com.au
John Rozentals was a guest of Port Macquarie Tourism and Sails.