My Parents often told me “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
As a young child, I didn’t even understand what that meant, and then as I reached my teenage years, I found out that sometimes it was easier said than done. You see it and you judge it!
Sometimes you don’t even see it and you will still judge it. Despite my best intentions, I have to admit I do this too.
Which brings me to my latest assignment and destination. The Star in Pyrmont, Sydney.
Yes that’s right The Star as in – a casino!
Okay, once again I have to admit that I judged. Straight away I struggled to see what I might find interesting and engaging about a couple of days at a casino, especially if you are not a big gambler. I do like a little flutter now and again and have been known to play the odd game of cards – more for the fun experience than the aim of making big dollars (although if it fell my way I wouldn’t complain!).
So, as with all things I do, I planned to take the task on with gusto, and began doing a bit of research on what might await me, in the hope this would whet my appetite as a traveller.
After spending an hour or so on star.com.au I realised that once again, maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge, because The Star is so much more than a Casino. So much more. In fact I have to be totally honest and say I was so pleasantly surprised by what the whole precinct had to offer, that I was now quite excited by what may be revealed over the next couple of days.
Let’s take a quick look at what’s on offer …The Star is Sydney’s only integrated resort offering nearly everything you may wish to experience if you were staying outside a major city in a beachside resort (minus the beach of course!) The precinct itself offers award-winning dining options, fantastic nightlife choices, a 5-star boutique hotel, a 16 room spa that rivals the best of them, a state-of-the-art events centre and of course, the actual casino itself.
Oh, and I should also mention the luxury retail opportunities and a Café Court that puts your standard food court over its knee and gives it a little spanking!
Keep reading and I will peel back the layers a little more … THE ACCOMODATION
There are two main choices when it comes to accommodation at The Star. Well, two different buildings, both with many options. The Astral Tower and Residence pretty much covers any budget from standard hotel-type rooms, to suites or even a Penthouse if your heart desires. You can also grab a few friends or family members and take advantage of the 2 and 3 bedroom serviced apartments. The Astral also features an inviting indoor/outdoor pool and health club to keep those gambling arms strong.
The choice for my little getaway was The Darling. The only purpose-built 5 star hotel in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics. It’s the new kid on the block having opened in 2011 and its distinctive inverted glass tower is noteworthy in itself. The rooms are just stunning. Detailed and charismatic, and at the same time they give you a relaxed and comfortable vibe. The beds are what I believe you would call ‘heavenly’. Four hundred thread Egyptian cotton sheets with a pillow menu that guarantees you the perfect night’s sleep.
There are three different styles of suites to choose from – The Jewel Suite, with its king size bed, separate living area and its own wet bar! The Adored Suite, which gives you that homely feel and features a large living room, intimate dining area, king size bedroom, walk-in wardrobe and a luxurious marble bathroom. Finally, The Stellar Suite, which is like having your own mini palace, where the level of comfort is tailored to suit your needs … got to love that!
For all you tech heads, every suite has all the latest hook ups, including self closing curtains and the hotel has actually won awards for Best Tech Hotel in 2012.
You could easily eat yourself into a food coma here at The Star, and after a back-of-house tour with Director of Food & Beverage, the delightful Pom, Andy North, I feared I would be heading in that direction. What really amazed me was that basically everything at The Star is made from scratch, everything. I naturally assumed that most would be brought in. Another thing that stood out was the staff, from dishie to Sous Chef, they all seemed to love being part of the team.
Breakfast was at the Garden Buffet which is dangerous in itself, just because it is a buffet and when we hear the words ‘all you can eat’ – well, we do get a little silly! Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner it also has a Seafood Friday dinner that will see you trying to take on mountains of prawns, crab and oysters.
Lunch was, for me, what to many is a late night snack. Sitting right amongst the action of the Baccarat tables, Fat Noodle is open all hours – in fact, it stays open until 5am on weekends. A bustling open kitchen exposes all the frantic action and fragrances of Asian delights from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and more, being cooked right in front of you. Luke Nguyen is the man behind Fat Noodle and when you visit you must try his signature 20-hour beef Pho…just music to my mouth!
Pre dinner was a treat too …
Cocktails at BLACK by Ezard. This comtemporary grill restaurant is, again, a multi award winner and I could have easily stayed here to feast. Still, the cocktails were amazing and the service was so friendly.
With a warm and fuzzy outlook it was time for the main event, and this was an experience I was aching for.
Sokyo is an experience to savor. Tokyo meets Sydney right here. Chef Chase Kojima shows off all his style and craftsmanship with a pioneering take on contemporary flavours.
Sashimi, Tempura, Robata and Nigiri. Flavours that will blow your mind and your taste buds away! Also if you like Sake, then you have to try it here. I must have only ever tasted rubbish before, because now I know Sake can be as impressive as a fine wine.
Now I do realise that a lot of the major Casinos around the world feature some of the best entertainment available, but I really didn’t know if The Star was in the same league. I love being schooled sometimes and once again I was reminded that I do not know everything!
The Star has a state-of-the-art Events Centre that provides absolute tops shelf shows. Coming up in the next month or so you can enjoy the hilarious Wayne Brady from Whose Line is it Anyway?, or maybe the dulcet tones of our own Tina Arena may appeal. I enjoyed a night of rocking it out with Aussie greats Richard Clapton, Russell Morris and Jo Camileri and the venue showed exactly why it is what it is. The sound was just brilliant. There is also Sydney Lyric, which always puts on a great show. Right now its Strictly Ballroom, and they have also showcased Phantom, Mamma Mia and Priscilla in the past. Add to this some very cool bars and a couple of groovy (can I still use that word?!) nightclubs and your entertainment needs are more than fulfilled.
Before I sign off I must mention the immediate surrounds of The Star. I really didn’t think about them too much before I enjoyed a little walk around. Obviously the standout is views across the waterfront of Pyrmont Bay from The Star and the alternative view of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. But Pyrmont itself is so inviting, especially the little Pyrmont Square just to the Southwest of The Star. A combination of colonial buildings, and laneways that now encompass delightful cafes, shops and restaurants. Definitely worth some exploration.
I have to admit I was delightfully surprised and will make my way back here for a little midweek break or even a romantic weekend away. Fine foods, charming accommodation, engaging entertainment and a location that has you on the doorstep of the wonderful city of Sydney and all it has to offer. I really believe you will be just as impressed as I was.