Jonah's, Whale Beach. Sydney.

Thursday, March 6th 2014

Sydney’s Northern Beaches. There is just something impossibly romantic about hearing those words. Evoking thoughts of tanned surfers riding the last of the day’s waves, well after sun down, barefoot girls in cut off denims filling carefree days with hours lost on golden shores, palm tree clad front lawns shading weatherboard beach houses, the epitome of laidback Australian Beach culture. Like the sea, we are drawn to the Sydney Northern Beaches and the overwhelming sense of freedom that this lifestyle inspires. 

What we have learnt from our trail of discovering wedding venues, both the established and the new, the large and the small, is that there are a suite of venues that are so renowned and established in their ageless and classic beauty that they become part of the landscape and as such are sometimes bypassed on ones pursuit of the perfect wedding venue. One such venue sits casually on the cliff top high above stunning Whale Beach and the amazing rows of beach homes. At a grand 85 years of age, Jonahs is an Australian icon, a fixture on the picturesque Northern Beaches coastline. Like the thousands of New Yorkers who leave the city on route to the Hamptons each year, you may have visited Jonahs with the swarms of Sydney city siders that head north for luxury weekend escapes or be one to have read about it in travel guides as one of the most prestigious boutique hotels in the world. This iconic venue is renowned for refined luxury and considered a must visit on the bucket list of many, oozing exclusivity and class. We however wanted to visit Jonahs to showcase this incredible space and somewhat forgotten gem through the eyes of someone looking to plan their wedding. What we learn from our stay is that Jonahs is all of the things you read about and so much more….

As The LANE team makes the one-hour trip from Sydney Airport on a “wish you where here” postcard Sydney Summer day, you can almost taste the salt in the air and feel the heat of the midday sun warming crisp skin. Each beach rolls into the next as we head north, (Whale Beach is the second most northerly), each with the sentiment of a sleepy coastal beach town. There is a real sense that time is slower and that life is more laidback, you’d be forgiven for forgetting you are only an hour out of the city.

Climbing high up the cliff, we make our way up the winding residential street on which Jonahs is located and are greeted by a modest residence, nestled quietly amongst beach homes. The mood, we learn, is unexpectedly charming and surprisingly relaxed. As just one of five Relais and Chateaux properties in Australia (the most prestigious hotel association in the world), it might be wrongly assumed that Jonahs is only for those looking for luxury. With its eggshell render, blue grey awnings and shutters and its intimate boutique residence feel, the space evokes a vibe of coastal charm meets refined elegance. The northern beaches location gives it the relaxed ease of Australian Coastal life that we love. Think along the lines of a luxurious seaside beach club or boutique B & B that has a real nostalgia for days gone by. All this creates a mood that lends itself perfectly to a luxe wedding that is still injected with a splash of charm and personality.

The light is the first thing we notice as we enter Jonahs. It is impossibly bright. Like a forcefield it pulls you through the reception area and into the intimate terrace space, where floor to ceiling glass windows and doors open onto a large deck. Next, the view greets us leaving us speechless, as we find ourselves surrounded by endless blue water that romantically fades into emerald waves crashing on golden orange shores. If you are looking for a ceremony and reception space with breathtaking sweeping views, you could look all over the world and not find one so perfect. The height and cliff top location give the space dramatics, romance and a sense of remote seclusion, not afforded by other seaside venues in the area. It is the ultimate backdrop for romantic wedding photos. Forget filters - the sky is blue and the water bluer. We sip Tattinger Champagne and sample delicious cocktails, completely memorised by the fact that such a place exists right in our own backyard.  

For a wedding of any aesthetic, Jonahs is a perfect blank canvas and the location and styling options are endless. As we sit on the balcony, the serene ambience has us dreaming of long tables under the stars, lit romantically by an abundance of ivory tapered candles and a shimmering moon reflecting on a quiet sea. Jonahs is relaxed about your styling and decor and you are able to work with stylists and décor hire companies to bring in any elements you need to transform the space. The seaside cliff location, blue - emerald sea and burnt sandy shores lend to a palette of shell, sand, jewel tones, copper and rust. Drawing inspiration from this, we envisage organic touches added to long tables draped in luxurious raw linens. Think lace patterned plates in faded turquoise, oversized seashells, antique or pearl handled cutlery, tapered candles in rusting white candlesticks and crystal cut wine glasses.

The balcony overlooks a cliff top garden, reminiscent of the front lawn of a luxurious beachside home; complete with cute white wooden chairs that offer a place to stare out at the enchanting Tasman Sea. The garden makes a great informal and relaxed ceremony space, where guests can mingle on the grass or watch from the balcony above. For a mood of seaside romance, we see a driftwood arch draped with delicate lace blowing in the sea breeze. Think a romantic sunset ceremony, a heavily embellished gown with your neck adorned in strands of pearls and your bronzed feet bare, handpicked white blooms, tousled beach hair, and groomsmen in raw linen suits or layered neutrals.

The intimate terrace room is light and bright and can accommodate 48 guests non-exclusively. With its high ceilings, spectacular view, exposed beams and direct access to the deck, the room gives you the feeling that you are in a rooftop marque that looks out to the bluest of blue seas. Often used for midweek weddings, it is the perfect space for an intimate shared meal with friends style reception dinner or a bridal shower lunch.

For larger weddings, the restaurant can accommodate up to 116 guests. Excellent food goes hand in hand with content guests and a great reception, and we quickly discover Jonahs is a foodie’s paradise and currently holds a hat in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. We treat ourselves to an array of dishes from Jonahs seasonal summer menu and we can see why the restaurant has been awarded such a prestigious accolade! The food is incredible. Think Pea Tortellini with Pecorino Mousse, Sugar Snaps, Mint and Pea Consommé; Rangers Valley Wagyu Rump Cap, NSW Roasted with Goat’s Curd, Fig Tapenade, Pickled Cucumber and Marrow Jus; Binnorie fetta, Hunter Valley Heirloom Carrots, Pistachio and Quinoa Dukkah, Pickled Carrot and Spice Beignet; and Almond Panna Cotta, Raspberry Sorbet, Caramelised Macadamia and Pistachio. The chef treats us to the most amazing mid course, which is a family recipe of Wild Mushroom Risotto - possibly the most delicious hearty and flavoursome meal we have ever eaten. 

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 at an exotic far-flung location, you are likely to be considering a destination wedding… and this destination is at your backdoor!  Comparable to the coastline of Greece and Italy, Jonahs cliff top location and intimate boutique hotel accommodation, conjures up an atmosphere of peaceful and exotic seclusion with friends and family without the cost of overseas travel. Eleven luxurious ocean retreat guest rooms are available and can be booked providing completely exclusive use of the hotel and grounds for your wedding weekend. If you are thinking of a luxurious escape to treat yourself pre wedding the rooms are a must stay. Think a luxe weekend with your bridesmaids sipping cocktails by the pool after lazy days on the beach or retreating to complete luxury after a day in the city trying on bridal gowns. Complete with stunning views from your private balcony, king size beds with the softest cottons, luxurious marble bathrooms complete with a spa and L’Occitane toiletries, if you are like us you will never want to leave!

When you eventually have to, there is no better or more romantic way to do it than on a Sydney seaplane (which runs from Palm Beach to Rose Bay). On a sparkling Sydney day, the experience is absolutely incredible.  As we make our way along the Northern Beaches, captivated by the breathtaking views, azure waters, rugged cliff faces and coastline and then the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and city skyline, we are at ease knowing Jonahs perched high on the hill is a fixture of the Australian coastline and isn’t going anywhere…

Wedding packages start and $205 per person and include canapés on the balcony, a two course meal, cake service and a five hour beverage package.

You can view more information about this stunning venue here.

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