Monday, June 16th 2014
Sitting on the sprawling verandah of Harvest Café Newrybar, shaded by the overhanging wisteria tree, face lit by warm afternoon sun, as aromas of autumnal delights hang in the crisp hinterland air, you get an overwhelming nostalgia for a simpler existence, where time spent and meals shared with family and friends takes priority over the hustle of our busy modern lives.
Set in a little town called Newrybar in the Hinterland of Northern NSW, just outside of Byron Bay, this 1900’s rustic cottage house with its whitewashed weatherboards, teak floors and small town vibe, is our routine weekend visit for lazy Sunday lunch. Romanced by fresh county air and wide-open spaces, we love to lose our days feasting on their local, seasonal and sustainable menu and cocktails inspired by the native Australian bush and tropical fruits.
Like us and the abundance of barefoot beauties, if you have been pulled to the Byron area for its bohemian charm and laid-back existence, chances are you would have hustled for a table at Harvest on a busy Sunday or lined up for a coffee and pastry from their famous deli. However with its rustic, yet chic aesthetic and relaxed vibe, Harvest is also the perfect space for an intimate bohemian, effortlessly luxe or country inspired reception full of soul. We wanted to visit one of our favourite spaces and show it to you through the inquisitive eyes of a free spirit on the search for her dream wedding space…
Enter Harvest’s restaurant area and memories of lazy Sundays spent around the fire in the living room of a family country retreat flood in. The open plan kitchen and bar area, leather clubman chairs, hanging pendant lights, casual stacks of coffee table cookbooks and worn daily newspapers set amongst the spirited conversations of friends catching up over a long lunch, instantly makes you feel like you are amongst good company. Inspiring thoughts of a newlywed couple sharing stories and a glass of red wine with family and friends well into the night.
Our favourite spot for a rustic reception dinner is Harvest’s verandah. As we move out onto the sprawling, open roof, timber decked area, which looks out to the neighboring deli, Harvest gardens and historic 100-year-old bakery, we are instantly dreaming of a shared meal with friends reception dinner. Think dramatic long tables and bentwood chairs set with incredible handpicked arrangements of wildflowers in deep plum, rich berry, jewel tone and wine stain hues, complementing the natural landscape of the area and the seasons harvest. A spirited ambience and magical serenity created with an abundance of soft flickering pillar candles and mood lighting.
The food however is the real star of Harvest for us and if amazing food and wine is a big focus for you, then with just one mouthful you will fall even more in love with this incredible venue. Renowned for their fresh and seasonal produce sourced from the local region and Harvest’s own garden and 5-acre organic farm, the new autumn menu is a delicate and fresh celebration of the season. Our feast of Local heirloom tomato carpaccio, Harvest salted ricotta, garden herbs; and a Harvest Garden Celebration on toasted buckwheat to start, looks and tastes like a beautifully delicate flowering garden on a plate. The mains of Risotto with pearl barley, smoked mushrooms, kale, toasted macadamias and pecorino; Brunswick Heads Spanish Mackerel with Sweet Corn and Baby Beets; and Pan seared duck breast with fennel puree and braised cabbage with currans give you the hearty satisfaction that only comes with eating wholesome food appropriate for the season amongst good company.
The old-bakery set at the back of the cottage house is another of our favourite spots to hold a spirited and lively reception. Retreating to the space after wandering the Harvest Garden (where small ceremonies can be held), with its concrete floors, exposed brick walls, bi-fold French windows, wooden ceiling beams and dramatic rustic chandelier, we feel we have discovered the ultimate gem for an intimate and completely original wedding reception. Inspiring thoughts of 40 of your closet family and friends enjoying a shared table menu or embracing the spirit of paddock to plate with a whole beast from the woodfire oven. The rustic details are divine and if keeping costs low is a priority, minimal styling is needed. The beauty is in the spaces, history, charm and the unique story it tells (it is still a functioning bakery during the day). We recommend opting for oversized florals held in dramatic crystal cut vases to bring a sense of opulence to the space.
The night comes quietly at Harvest. The soft auburn glow of the afternoon light seems to hang magically in the air as the hinterland fields come alive with the luminous sparkle of a setting sun. A reminder to us that at just 40 minutes down the coast, there is an undisturbed, unpretentious and breathtakingly beautiful place can be escaped to.
Wedding packages can be tailored to suit your reception preference and range from cocktail style for up to 130, shared table dining or even a luxurious dinner for eight in the private dining room (housed in the century old bakery). You can find more information, package options as well as venue hire fees over on Harvest Café’s official website.
Thursday, June 12th 2014
Think about the majestic places you may have visited, maybe only in the exotic daydreams that cloud days from the stresses of reality, that draw you back and have you never wanting to leave. Often it’s not the modern comforts, extravagant luxuries or even the five star services, but the warm spirit a place illuminates that has your soul wanting to rest a little longer. It is in the details, the culture and tradition, the seclusion and privacy and personal journey that has your heart seeking a path back.
There are luxury hotel rooms, and then there are the private Riads of the Royal Mansour. Reminiscent of an ancient otherworld where tradition and luxury are delivered with warmth and spirit, and culture and authenticity is preserved in the face of an era that seems obsessed with technology and in-your-face glamour. The private riads of Royal Mansour offer a charming blend of culture and luxury. Perfect for those seeking a luxurious and private honeymoon option in the complete seclusion of a private riad, a spirited pre-wedding getaway with girlfriends or even an inspired space to hold a lavish rehearsal dinner under the stars on a private rooftop with the last of the suns rays sets on the red city of Marrakech, the Royal Mansour Riads tell a story of exoticism and culture; one that is honest and true and cant be replicated by other luxury hotels around the world.
True Marrakech is discovered in the home where tradition is preserved, design is inspired and privacy and peace prevail. The two-bedroom riad (there are 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom available) that sprawls over three grand floors has been designed to embody this tradition of spirit and upon entering the space and standing in the central open-air courtyard with your face illuminated by natural light you are intoxicated by the beautiful blend of tradition and opulence. Think a living room under the open sky, trickling fountains, scents of wood and fresh roses, tiled floors layered with patterned rugs, an elaborate dining room, a traditional Moroccan Bhou (lounge), a chess room and bar. Bedrooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms for retreat complete with the softest linens and MarocMaroc beauty products, set separately on the first floor overlooking the tranquil open roof courtyard. A private rooftop looking over the city of Marrakech with its own plunge pool, open fireplace, dining area and solarium waiting your retreat on the third level.
As the eyes adjust to the overwhelming grandness of the riad, you take in the rich interiors, unique furnishings, colourful mosaics, luxurious fabrics, decadent antiques and handcrafted furniture sourced from all around the world. The divine details of the embellished space begin to emerge and you realise that this place might very well be one of those that you revisit time and time again, if only in your most animated daydreams. Each riad is unique and decorated differently, all with Moroccan design and craftsmanship. Think walls lined with glazed honey, blue, green or terracotta tiles; zelliges and smooth, shiny tadelakt painted walls; mashrabiya screens; ceilings of sculpted plaster and painted wooden panels. A mix of textures, a clash of surfaces and handmade details create a mood of warmth and opulence. Fusing the beautiful traditional architecture and Moroccan details with modern elements of technology hidden discretely make for a luxurious and modern stay. TV’s are hidden behind intricately carved walls, discrete touch screens control lights and open roofs are sensored according to the weather. We loved that the traditional riad design isn't compromised by technology!
The more you immerse yourself in your private world, the more you discover and the more that awaits. Whether it’s a moment of celebration with the arrival bottle of Champagne, a moment of complete relaxation in the enormous marble bath, a moment of peace taking in the exotic city from your private rooftop as the Muslim call to prayer echoes, or a moment of overindulgence with extravagant in-room dining and the most delicious Mediterranean cuisines, there are moments for whatever form of indulgence you seek. We recommend giving your days freely to sipping tea in the bhou, sharing rambling conversations around the dining table, indulging with cocktails in the sun by the private pool, snoozing on the rooftop day bed and feasting on the most amazing food. While the city waits outside an enticing world is on the inside of your very own private walls.
While visually spectacular, the real secret to the splendor of the riads is in the service provided during your stay. The design of the hotel has been carefully considered for complete privacy and seclusion with an elaborate underground tunnel system providing discrete access to the riads for staff. A private butler called Rishi with a warm spirit and gentle soul might service your stay. Available when required, discrete always and bringing a sense of culture and friendship to the stay, you’ll fall in love with the personalised touches and the way service is delivered with a kind smile.
As we immerse ourselves in this magical space and give ourselves freely to its majestic powers to transport, we fall even more in love with the city of Marrakech and what is stands for. When forced to return to reality and leave behind this once in a lifetime experience we will remember the time we were able to fully escape reality, immerse ourselves in culture and learn about the Moroccan way of life. It will forever stand as that alluring place that our hearts will be forever mapping a path for return.
Weddings and Events
While there are large and elaborate spaces and terraces within the main lobby area for weddings and events, we love the idea of a small and intimate gathering in your private riad. As the last of red sunrays turn the city gold, the rooftop of your riad evokes exotic romance. Have a dinner party by the pool and feast on the delicious cuisine, cocktails and wine available. Your very own butler will service your dinner and no additional styling is needed. This is the perfect option for a small elopement!
The extravagant and formal event ballroom works for a more classic wedding aesthetic. It is very opulent and lavish so additional styling would be kept to a minimum in this area. Crystal vases filled with an abundance of antique roses and soft flickering pillar candles would work beautifully.
The Terrace space overlooking the main lobby or the Hotel’s lobby are our favourite areas for a bohemian-inspired cocktail style reception. Palm tree clad views of the city from the terracotta terrace or the open roof reception lobby with its huge rustic chandelier, bohemian drapes and intricate tiles are the perfect style for a mood of effortless bohemian luxury.
La Table is the Hotel’s courtyard dining space and is great for a more casual wedding luncheon. Think white cane furniture, picnic umbrellas and coloured crystal ware set in the garden amongst rustic olive trees. This more informal outdoor space (although the service is still that of a fine dining restaurant) is perfect to hold a pre-wedding lunch with your bridal party and guests.
Friday, June 6th 2014
Captivated by the bewitching 1960’s images of Talitha Getty that set the world on fire as she lay under a roof of stars in Marrakech, all beautiful and damned, Saint Laurent’s most famous love affair and the birth of bohemian chic, hippie-de-luxe and a transient way of life that embraced the gypset, we have long been romanced by the idea of a luxurious yet exotic wedding reception on a Moroccan rooftop.
Inspiring a mood of laidback glamour and reminiscent of bohemian beauties lazing on rooftops and sipping cocktails with friends, there is just something about rooftop wedding receptions that is so effortlessly cool! Being under a blanket of stars and high above a city as night falls, observing the city come alive with glittering lights is just magical.
The rooftop space at El Fenn on the edge of the old fortified city with its incredible views of the terracotta cityscape, Koutoubia Mosque and Atlas Mountains brings a whole new level of romance and exoticism to this trend.
The Muslim calls to prayer echos through a sky scorched red by a setting sun and at dusk the city lights up and glows around you, you can see the steam easing from food stalls in the Medina and then the moon rises. The area is decorated with Berber tented daybeds in eclectic bold prints and is complete with a glamourous plunge pool. All this evokes a mood of exotic bohemian luxury, perfect for those considering an elopement, but still wanting a unique wedding venue injected with exotic charm and culture.
The décor is a vibrant palette of terracotta, eclectic prints and soft furnishings so really no additional styling is needed. The tented daybeds, silver Moroccan coffee tables, oversized terracotta pots and wooden stools create a relaxed space perfect for a cocktail style reception. We love the idea of using the space and existing styling to create a picnic style setting. Complete with clusters of Moroccan lanterns for ambient lighting and a barefoot bride dancing under a blanket of stars. Think more casual summer party than formal reception! Long tables can also be set up to create a shared meal with friends vibe.
The hotel’s tranquil courtyards and pool areas can also be used for ceremonies and events. The pool area can be transformed into a Berber salon with rugs and kilms over the daybeds. If you dream of an escape and are romanced by the thought of having all of your family and friends gather for a weekend of celebrations in an exotic far-flung location, then it doesn’t get any better than the El Fenn and the riad and rooms can be hired exclusively for wedding.
All weddings and events are personalised to suit what you are looking for. You can find out more information here.
Photography: Karissa Fanning and Jennifer Stengleign