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“great scenery, only average accom and food but good people”

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Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Monkerai
Sydney
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“great scenery, only average accom and food but good people”
Reviewed September 1, 2012

We couldn't get a coupon for a discounted stay, they had sold out by the time we'd made up our mind. Therefore we paid the full retail price of $240 a night including dinners and breakfasts for Saturday and Sunday night.
Our drive from Sydney was stunning, one of those sunny winters days where the sky is crystal blue and the grass is green like Ireland. The Dungog-Glouchester area is truly beautiful so the three hour drive was an absolute pleasure

Our room was in a row of rooms like most 1970's country motels, small, dark, not enough lights to read a book, a comfortable bed and heated by a small reverse cycle air conditioner from the 1970's that sounded like a 747 taxiing. There was no door to the bathroom, just a curtain. The toilet had a thin door but didn't feel private without a bathroom door, your sleeping partner will always know how many sheets of paper you used. We booked a room with a spa and this was a good idea because in winter a long soak in the generously sized spa tub was the highlight of each day.

The setting of the resort is quite idyllic, rolling green paddocks with fat grazing cattle, horses, blue hills as a backdrop. Take your camera, this is classic Australian countryside at its best.

Riverwood offers a wide range of accommodation, ranging from a massive bunk-room to hotel rooms to private cabins. There is a central dining-room and an outdoor cafe around the back which uses the same kitchen. The resort was built in the early seventies, and although quite functional, the place is in need of a facelift.

The staff are quite cheery and helpful. Things get a bit stretched at dinner-times, the waiting staff are helpful but miss a lot of things. I had to walk over to the bar to get drinks when ours ran out. We waited forty-five minutes between entree and mains. The kitchen was running full steam but wasn't up to feeding the thirty or so guests who were waiting patiently.

The menu wasn't very adventurous and I suppose it's not fair to expect avant garde dining in a country farm-resort, but this was very 1960's fare: meat and three veg. The fish served to the next table looked good, but my steak was chewy to say the least. My fellow traveler was vegetarian and the vegetarian meals were very plain-Jane, just pasta with sauce one night and steamed vegetables the next. Come on guys, there are lots of vegetarians in Australia, it's no longer a fad. Google up some veg recipes, please.

I'd say three-star was more appropriate than the four and a half advertised. We had a good time, didn't feel it was great value for money for $240 a night, but the scenery and fresh country air were a delight. Don't know if we'd go back again, we don't mind paying that sort of money for a good weekend away but we'd like to see better meals and a refresh of the room decor; better lighting, a bathroom door and a quieter means of heating the room.

I hope this doesn't discourage you from going, it was a memorable stay for the natural beauty alone, but don't expect city standards.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank BillfromAus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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205 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (39)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Sydney
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed August 20, 2012

I think that some of the reviews of this venue are a little harsh. Whilst i agree with some of the comments the location of Riverwood downs is just beautiful. We purchased a Scoopon voucher for this location and being dog lovers were very excited at the opportunity to bring our dog with us. We stayed in a spa room, not a spa cabin and it sounds like they were nicer than the cabins, we had carpet, a propoer bathroom and a nice spa bath. The main problem with this venue is that the food, we spent 2 hours on the friday night waiting for our meal which consisted of garlic bread ($6.90) and steak with a tiny potato and frozen veg ($30 each). The staff were very friendly and were doing their best but it was clear that this place was understaffed. However they did provide us with a $30 credit voucher and complimentary meal for our dog because of our wait! We had the same problem the next morning and found we had a very long wait for breakfast for very mediocre food. We decided that we would have a late lunch instead of spending a couple of hours that night waiting on food. The choice of food was really bad, i ordered a pastie and wedges and received a Mrs Macs microwaved pie!
On the positive site the staff were very friendly, this place is truly dog friendly with our dog allowed off leasing, plenty of bush walks and swimming in the river.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Annersok
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed August 12, 2012

All I can say is that I wish I had checked the reviews from this site before I purchased my Groupon voucher. There were so many things wrong with this experience that I don't even know where to begin.

With our anniversary approaching, I was looking for somewhere special to take my wife and for a change I wanted to stay away from the city. We both love horse riding and when the Groupon deal for a 4 1/2 star resort holiday with horse riding was advertised, I thought it would be the perfect romantic getaway. I checked the resort's website and decided from the photos that the place looked great and so snapped up the voucher. That photographer deserves an award!

I requested an upgrade to a spa room but was told they were booked out but was given the option of a spa cabin instead. There was also an extra fee beause I wanted to use the voucher on a Saturday night so the whole experience cost $299(voucher) + $210("upgrades").

We arrived around 6.30 on Friday night and were greeted with a very basic and unnecessarily abrupt level of service at reception. Once the unpleasantries had been completed, we drove about 300 mtrs to our spa cabin and before even getting out of the car, the disappointment had set in. There was no covered parking and we had to park in a huge puddle of mud to unload the car. Cabin is the wrong term - these are cheap wooden sheds more suited to the storage of garden implements than luxury accommodation. Certainly not the 4 1/2 star accommodation we were promised. We were greeted by a very strong smell of possum dung as soon as we got out of the car. The steps to the cabin were wet, rotting and dangerously slippery. Once we got into the cabin it was even worse. The floor is made of a cheap lino and there is a cheap plastic couch that must have been purchased from a garage sale in the early 1980s. There is a small table and two chairs that were obviously stolen from outside a kebab shop in Cessnock and the kitchen looked like it had its last refurbishment about the same time the microwave was invented.

The bedroom had nasty vinyl bedsheets on the bed and the pillow cases smelled like they hadn't been washed and the last user hadn't washed their hair for a while. I tried removing the pillow cases and was going to put a jumper over the pillow for sleeping but the short curly hairs stuck to the pillow insert disgusted me so much that I put the smelly pillow covers back on and then put my jumper over the top of the pillow case.

The only remote display ofluxury in the room was the spa bath. What romance you could possibly extract from this was immediately undone by having an open toilet right next to it. Both of these are in the bedroom with no walls or doors in between and I'm sure this is in violation of some health code. After you've eaten at the restaurant you'll wish there was a door. You don't need to get too close to the spa bath to see that they have never heard of Exit Mould.

The Groupon voucher specified that a free dessert was included with EVERY 2 course meal. An argument ensued after dinner over the definition of the word "every" when they tried to apply the discount to one meal only. After a discussion between the waiter and the manager I was offered by second dessert but when I received the coupon back, the line stating that desserts were free had been crossed out. Of course a similar discussion was had the following night.

Because of poor weather, the horse riding that was to be included with the trip was cancelled - the first thing that was not the fault of the resort. How they handled it was appalling however. We were initially offered coupons to use next time we came to stay ($30 breakfast voucher + a $50 voucher for something else) at the resort and I ended up flatly saying that it was not the kind of resort that we would be returning to. We were refered to the manager who offered us a $50 discount off our dinner purchases - not the full cost of the horse riding by the way.

While I'm on the horse riding, there are signs up inside reception stating that the ride is a "Walking Ride Only". If you have ever ridden a horse before then this is not the place for you to come for a horse riding experience. This would be only one step above being led around a yard by a clown on a leadreign at the circus. None of this "walking only" nonsense was mentioned anywhere on the website, the Groupon page or in the reservation notices that we received. As the horse riding was one of the main reasons for booking at this location, it would have been very disappointing had the ride gone ahead - more so than having it cancelled and receiving only $50 of the cost back.

So after discounts this awful accommodation cost us approximately $205 / night and the complete loss of our 3 year wedding anniversary. The cost is comparable to real 4 and 5 star hotels like the Crowne Plaza in the Hunter Valley and so I know what we'll be doing next time. Having spent so much for so little, I really feel dirty. I'm also left wondering how this resort can so openly get away with calling themselves a 4 1/2 resort. I've lived on 3 different continents and travelled across 4 staying in everything from huts to 5 star hotels so I know what 4 stars looks like - and this isn't it! It's not the quality of the accommodation that I'm so upset about - it's having paid for much for so little!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
9 Thank carlwilk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Monkerai hotels

Sydney, Australia
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed August 11, 2012

I feel a little sad that Riverwood Downs has received such negative reviews. Valid in some areas yes although there are so many positives that make it worthwhile.

Hubby, Coconut (Our Jack Russell x Foxi) booked the Spa Cabin for Friday and Saturday night.

The cabin is cute. Right next to the river. It is small, but totally fine for the three of us just for two nights. The cabin was very clean, and there was no ‘doggy’ smell at all. The furniture and decor was a bit dated/basic (lino floors etc), although it’s totally awesome considering there isn’t a single limitation where you dog can be in the cabin. All in all, we were pleased. Clean, comfortable and Coconut could feel right at home. I found the bed comfortable, with electric blankets and all. Hubby didn’t sleep to well.

For such a small space, there is a very functional tiny little kitchen in the cabin with everything you will need. Cook top, little oven, microwave, kettle, toaster, pots, pans, cutlery, plates, cups, mugs and cooking utensils. There are also tea towels, dishwashing liquid and sponges. The fridge/freezer is a good size for a long weekend. Tea and coffee was provided. Everything worked well and was clean.

I found the bathroom a little odd as it’s basically open plan to the bedroom, although no biggie. However, it was all very clean and the spa was awesome! There’s satellite TV so some strange programming from rural areas although works fine. DVD player provided, and you can borrow DVD’s from reception.

There is zero mobile phone reception. Apparently only Telstra customers can receive some reception. There is a public phone near the kiosk which will happily steal your money and then disconnect you.

So, the food. Yes, the food is a disappointment. Insanely expensive, for ‘not that great’ food. We had a voucher for breakfast. As hubby was hungry he asked if he could have a sausage or something extra and to put it on our account. One, tiny little sausage came out with his breakfast for which we were charged $3.40. For one, small sausage. Entree for dinner was quite nice. Mains were quite bla (I didn’t finish mine). We had a chicken burger from the kiosk for lunch the following day. I couldn’t eat mine due to the massive fat deposits in the patty. Not nice. Although the coffee is great, and we loved the cherry cheesecake.

All staff were lovely and helpful. During dinner in the ‘dog lounge’ (which is a separate room to the main restaurant where you can dine with your pooch) the very sweet waiter served up some roast cut offs for our Coconut and presented it to her in a dog bowl. She ate every single bit and never growled at him again!

We happened to visit on a weekend when it rained the entire time. We would have loved to go canoeing or horse riding, although opted for walks around the property and a quite weekend. I enjoyed a massage from Rosie, who is brilliant. A reviewer made note that she enquired about medical history, injuries, illness’s and allergies. The reviewer seemed annoyed about this. Personally, if someone is going to be massaging me I would prefer that they make these enquires prior to doing so! She is obviously wanting to make sure she doesn’t aggravate anything, and making sure you won’t react to any oils that she uses. The massage was lovely, as is Rosie.

All in all, we loved having Coconut with us. She had so much fun. It was awesome walking around, meeting other dog owners and their dogs, and spending a nice quite weekend away. Yes, the food should possibly be avoided (I wouldn’t recommend relying on their food entirely) .. and the facilities are a little out dated, although we will return in the Summer with Coconut. We will BYO our own food next time, and enjoy every aspect of this truly dog friendly destination.

Room Tip: The 4 Spa Cabins are located in a very quite location on the river (approx 4 minute walk from the ma...
See more room tips
  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Bedgee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed August 4, 2012

We purchased a "Romance Package" for 2 nights in a spa cabin, breakfast for both days dinner for one night included, champagne and chocolates on arrival - what a joke! The package cost $642 for the weekend. The cabin had lino flooring, noisy air conditioning, open bathroon (no privacy at all) through bedroom, the champagne was a $15 a bottle of sparkly and the chocies i could I have picked up at woolies. The sheets were nylon and no extra blankets unless we went up to reception and asked for them. The rooms are not serviced unless you request it for an extra $15. The restaurant food was average at best. Breakfast was extremely limited, as far as you could only have a juice or a coffee, not both unless you pay extra. Breakfast was only served between 8.30 - 9.30am, are they serious. They advertise a romance package and you are forced out of bed to the restaurant by 9.30, no chance of a sleep in at all, unless you are prepared to go hungry. Not to mention no room service at all!
I don't know where they got their 4 1/2 star rating, but it is not deserved. I travel the globe for work and have stayed in a lot of hotels, this is not a 4 1/2 star rated establishment.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank 452frequentflyer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
Reviewed July 16, 2012

Nice location, very clean.
Outdated style.
Not very well run - disappointing.

  • Stayed July 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank J322a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newcastle, Australia
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed July 11, 2012 via mobile

We phoned on the day of our arrival hoping they would able to accommodate us. There were 2 couples n 2 dogs. The reception staff were more than helpful by confirming our booking over the phone, however when we arrived wanted to swap lodges. They gave us plenty of options and were very patient explaining each of their many accommodation areas. We chose to stay in the Log Cabins & again the staff were very helpful in checking availability, making the changes etc.  On top of that we were lucky to have a discount voucher. 
The cabin was spacious n beautifully maintained inside. All cooking utensils mic, bar fridge, tea & coffee mini milk, toaster oven & cooktop. The bathroom was clean. There was a separate bedroom, single bunks n a fold out sofa bed with sliding doors throughout for privacy. The bedding was warm and very comfortable with extra blankets n pillows. There was also an air conditioner which kept us warm. 
We spent the day outdoors & hired canoes for $18/ hr the river was so peaceful and scenic. There is a kiosk & full restaurant which may be considered to some a little pricey but well worth it. There is also a bar/pool room with a wood fire and several BBQ areas. Overall the atmosphere is so friendly & relaxing & when the say friendly they really mean it. 

  • Stayed July 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Sarah R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort

Property: Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort
Address: 311 Upper Monkerai Rd, Monkerai, New South Wales 2415, Australia
Location: Australia > New South Wales > Monkerai
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Monkerai
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 38
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Also Known As:
Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Hotel Monkerai

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