At the southern end of the Central Coast, surrounded by bushland, sits Bells at Killcare. The luxury property is owned and operated by Karina and Brian Barry, the local hoteliers (and couple) who founded Pretty Beach House, a smaller boutique stay nearby. Bells was already a go-to for those seeking a breezy (but luxe) vacay, but the latest four-part addition – The Lodges – takes the check-in options to new heights.

The four new standalone lodges are the same. On the ground floor, two identical bedrooms remove the possibility of squabbles over the “best” one. Each has a king bed and an ensuite with a deep concrete tub and the choice of an indoor or outdoor rain shower. Up the stairs is a well-appointed open kitchen and living area, a covered deck with views over Bouddi National Park to Palm Beach Lighthouse, and a small observation deck on a makeshift third storey (ripe for a sunset show).

A private plunge pool is surrounded by a generous outdoor dining area and cabana. And, if you’re after a resort feel, there’s always the communal Hamptons-style pool slicing into the manicured lawns.

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Adding a clutch of larger standalone lodges to the Central Coast property has been on the cards for more than a decade, and they’ve been designed specifically to cater to multi-generational groups of travellers. “[The Lodges] add a level of luxury to those that want to get away with friends or family,” Karina tells Broadsheet. “It’s really hard to find in Australia: somewhere where you can have the most beautiful food, you can be pampered, but [with space that] everyone can separate – everybody relaxes in a different way.”

The team are old hands at the luxe life, both professionally and in their own travels. Karina designed the lodges’ interiors herself: “I love it. It’s the best part of the job,” she says. “You know, there’s a lot of hard things about running a hotel. But the creative is really the best bit.”

Glossy deep-green tiles coat the walls in the bathroom – a contrast to the signature blue and white Bells is known for – and textural wooden pieces create a symmetry between the living areas and the tree-filled views. Karina and Brian’s last trip took them to Italy and Spain. “We were staying at Soho House in Rome, and we walked into our room and they had those green tiles. And we went ‘Wow, that's so cool’. It meant that we were on the right track.”

Keeping it a family affair, the couple’s daughter Emma runs The Lodges. After working in the family business from a young age, she took to international luxury stays – where white-gloved service is the norm. While the attention to detail here is as seamless as seen overseas, the style here is more quietly attentive. If you have a need, the staff are on hand. Your paper of choice and a loaf of just-baked bread (hot tip: opt for the focaccia) is dropped on your doorstep each morning, and a turn-down service happens almost miraculously while you’re out. “I understand what it’s like to be a customer,” Karina says. “All of the choices are very, very much about the customer experience.”

When Broadsheet visits, this is clear. The check-in is smooth and an arrival drink at the bar is welcome. Then there’s the dining.

When you check in to The Lodges, meals are included. Opt for a two-course lunch sent to your door, pick one of the spectacular trails nearby and take a stocked-up backpack, or have a hamper delivered so you can fire up the poolside barbie. For dinner, head to on-site fine diner The Wild Flower – serviced by a kitchen garden that's cared for by grounds manager and horticulturalist Megan Jackson – for a three-course à la carte meal or to cruise through a five-course tasting menu. The kitchen is overseen by culinary director Cameron Cansdell, who’s returned to the hotel 17 years after his position as its starting head chef.

At an additional cost, book a chef for in-room dining – making sure to start with golden hour drinks on the observation deck. The on-site larder and bottle-o is ready for you, too.

While the ideal situation is to stay, if you’d like to get a taste for the Bells lifestyle you can visit The Wild Flower for brekkie, lunch or dinner – or head in for an event. The Tuesday-night dinner series A Trip to the Mediterranean is on till the end of August, the annual truffle dinner is on Monday June 24, and a four-day trek through Bouddi National Park debuts in early July.

The Lodges at Bells have a two-night minimum stay, and start at $750 per person, per night (based on four guests). To celebrate the opening, book for $599, per person, per night, until September 30, 2024. Until August 31, 2024, book three nights and pay two.

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