Playground Hotel

The Dava Hotel
614 The Esplanade Mount Martha

(Visited December ’17)

I don’t even remember why we ventured over to the Dava Hotel that Tuesday in early December. I think Hubbie had heard of the place, and we were also keen to try something different, yet still close.

It was practically a 3 minute drive there. So the close box, was ticked. √

After waiting some time at the front counter to be seated, we were taken to a table to the side of the middle in the large room. It was LARGE. Open plan, working within the hotel image, where people staying overnight in the rooms within could venture on down and take food from the buffet cases, or people like us could walk in and dine from individual menus.

The expansiveness of the room, meant it wasn’t awfully cosy. But this was a hotel. We were coming to expect different.

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And just like a Hotel, we had to order and pay at two individual counters for drinks and food. Again, not ideal for us, but it happens at the Royal and we love that place. So Hubbie disappeared for sometime at the bar, doing his bit, and then I went over to the counter next to the buffet set-up to order our food.

While we waited for our drinks, I told him how the service I had received at the counter had been colder than the iceberg that hit the Titanic. The waitress was just not in the mood AT ALL, didn’t wanna be there, and hiding her palpable animosity towards, well LIFE in general, was very trying for her. I had sped off hastily.

Some alcohol helped me forget. I got the Wynns “The Gables” Cab Sav, while Hubbie had ordered himself a beer.

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The reason why I wasn’t kicking up a stink in regards to the service, was another huge determining factor of our possible night’s success. It was baby girl. And where she was. There was an enclosed play area just outside the eating area, and although it was around the corner, there was something else that made it easier to spy on your kids, even though you couldn’t see the entrance/exit.

The TV.

They had a TV on one wall showing the play area, and suddenly we realised why many families had sat within view of that TV – to enjoy their meal and yet still watch out for their little one outside.

We were slightly out of view of this TV, so we took turns in each getting up and going out to check on her – she was cool, as excited as a kid at Christmas (well it was coming up), and honestly wasn’t fazed that she hadn’t yet had her dinner.

But in between, we had moments of, what’s that word again… peace? Silence? Um, couple-time?

WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE ABOVE?!

Hence why I forgot about the Iceberg-waitress fairly quickly.

Our food came relatively fast considering there were so many people there, and we had to herd our girl in for it too.

Hubbie had the 300 gm Grass Fed Porterhouse: served with chips and garden salad, and tomato sauce

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I had the Linguini Marinara: garlic and olive oil base with mussels, prawns, scallops and calamari.

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And baby girl had the Spaghetti Bolognaise

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Hers was a free kids meal because kids eat free on weekdays. It was an effort to get her to eat it only because that was the start of her “no sauce, no lumps” in pasta phase. So we moved things around and wrestled as much sauce free pasta out of the plate as we could, until we were somewhat satisfied with her efforts. Having said that, although it was free, a bolognaise from the jar was a fairly unimpressive kids meal, and I don’t care if it’s free – they are people too! And chefs, don’t you dare tell me that that sauce came from anywhere else!

Having said that, I could see other kids meals floating around, like fish and chips, and they looked much more appealing. Note to self. Order things for kids that is unlikely to come from a jar/packet.

Hubbie really liked his meal, and even likened the steak to Kirks style, even the price, saying there was not much difference. No way! The same? That was impressive, that a hotel could do a steak to the same standard as a restaurant like Kirks. He was impressed. Geez.

Having said that, I was pleased with my meal too. It was a substantial dish, I enjoyed the mild flavour of the garlic and olive oil, and half of the seafood I did enjoy, such as the fish pieces, prawns and mussels, however the scallops were undercooked for my liking, and likewise the calamari was not a fave. Seafood dishes are really hard to get right I find, and when I do find a dish that gets every single component right and seafood cooked perfectly, I’ll let you know. Those not-to-taste bits were easy to pick out, and otherwise, it was yum.

We had been pleasantly surprised with our meals, baby girl was having a rad ol’ time running between our table and the outside playground, and we could actually relax… so we decided what the hell, let’s do dessert and coffees too.

I got a cap, Hubbie a latte, and baby girl a babycino

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(Hubbie’s ‘strong’ latte)

And then the dessert: baby girl got ice cream with choc topping and sprinkles; I got the Toblerone mousse cake; and Hubbie got an opera slice

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Baby girl was rapt with her dessert. Ice cream, sprinkles, chocolate? That makes perfect sense. She ate it ALL. However that’s where the satisfaction stopped. Hubbie’s opera slice was average, whereas my slice of cake was just, ok. I was left feeling overly full, but not in that delightful way where you’ve had the most amazing meal. It was the regretful “I should have stopped at main” feeling. Both our cakes had that bulk manufactured taste, and really, I think the safest way to go for dessert was baby girl’s route – the ice cream.

The night was a really mixed bag. There were pros, there were cons… but as we tried to wrangle our girl from the playground and into the car, to protests of tears and “I don’t want to go!” we realised we may have just found ourselves an imperfect paradise for some ‘us ‘ time.

Food: 6.5/10. This was a hard one to rate, due to the difference in meal quality between courses. I have to take in Hubbie’s ‘like Kirks’ steak, just as I need to take in baby girl’s ‘sauce from a jar’ bolognaise.

Coffee: 7/10. It was good.

Ambience: Noisy and busy – just how we like! It allowed us to relax (relax in noise?) as we weren’t concerned about any of baby girl’s sporadic outbursts out of random necessity. Lots of people about, all getting ready for the festive season. And this was a Tuesday night.

People: Families on holiday, pensioners, ladies meeting for a tipple or two. Grown families, young families, really, ALL sorts. The typical Aussie prevailed. You define that as you will.

Staff: Apart from that one cold-from-the-depths-of-her-ravaged-soul waitress, we did in fact have luck with others. The girl who sat us down, the woman who cleared our plates for us, and also the girl who took our dessert order, were ALL very pleasant and friendly, so majority won.

Price: just over $100 for the lot – including drinks, main meals and dessert. Baby girl’s meal was free, so that meant our $64 food order averaged about $32 a piece… decent considering it is a hotel. So those individual prices were a bit high for hotel-quality food, yet overall we did well in the $ department.

Advice: If you come with children – sit as close as possible to the TV as you can. You won’t regret it. If you have really small littlies, there is a smallish room around the corner from the bar, that is the entrance to the playground – you can sit in there and eat, as well as watch your kids go on baby-type play equipment, and you are right there. But so is every other baby in the restaurant, so you choose.

Pick foods that can’t be screwed up for kids. Main adult meals should be ok. Dessert – just go for the ice cream, you’ll be happy you did.

In a nutshell: Having the outdoor playground with monitored TV inside is an excellent concept. So simple, so clever. It is simple food, and when you order what they do well, you walk away with a bargain.

If you want a no-fuss, child-friendly place where you can relax while your kids burn off some steam… then you have found it. And because of the ability to have some child-free moments, you walk away feeling like you’ve actually been on holiday… at a hotel.

The Dava Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lantasia Lights

I thought it was a one-off event, back when I saw the lit-up advertising in the Summer of ’16 – ’17. There were huge bright characters and animals, but being so soon after our Sea Change move, the thought of exploring when I needed to explore rather the dozen (or 50) boxes we had still packed up in our home, was too much to bear (and we still have boxes!)

However this year, this Summer, was different. More than 1 year after moving here, when I saw the familiar lights and pretty hanging things being showcased around online and in local advertising, I knew I had to take baby girl to go and see them.

Hell, I wanted to go and see them.

Armed with my trusty Mornington Peninsula ‘Penny Saver’ book, Hubbie, baby girl and I made our way over to Fingal to see the Fantasia Light Walk display at Boneo Maze and Mini Golf.

We started our tour of the grounds via the boardwalk, that led us through native flora, fauna and light installations –

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Which then led us to a Hedge Maze early on, which we weaved our way through. Surprisingly cool, a great place to hide out in on a hot Summer’s night! We headed through it easily, though with a couple of twists and turns you could find yourself looping the same path on repeat if not careful! Keep kids close, just in case. Just a small maze, nonetheless.

Back onto the boardwalk, which led us through wetlands around us, and MORE light installations.

 

 

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A little House of Mirrors (or should I say, horrors) greeted us at one point, made more horrific when after viewing our reflections in the mirror, I noticed some ghost-like black and white photographs staring at us from the wall, and got baby girl the hell out of there before she could even think about starting on nightmares.

Annndddd…. another nightmare.

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At a fork in the boardwalk, one path led us down a Bird Hide through which you could view birds in their natural habitat via a window-ed cottage… but the other path is the one that led us to something more exciting.

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A large games area, which the beautiful boardwalk framed as it wove around the parkland, was the perfect focal point of the grounds, especially for kids. There was a vintage carousel

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Giant games, including Chess, Checkers, Connect 4 and Hookey.

And lights were on display amidst the trees and gardens, shining brightly as night fell.

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So much to see and do, for both kids and adults alike. And set in amongst such beautiful settings, calming nature, stunning scenery, and bright lanterns and light installations.

In fact, there was soooo much to see and do, that we didn’t get to see and do. A major feature of the park is the Mini Golf, so much so that you get a score card on the back of your map of the grounds upon entry.

Also at additional cost, is the Adventure Zone, open on school holidays and weekends, that include things like climbing walls and pedal boats.

We were only there for a short time, since I had squeezed the whole visit in. The Lantasia Light Walk at Boneo Maze ends soon, on Jan 27, and I really wanted to check it out before then, seeing as I had missed it the year before.

In turn our visit was rushed, yet really you should be spending a good several hours here, 4 at least to get your money’s worth.

And speaking of money, the Lantasia entry prices are on the ‘up’ side, as I would say in my Food Reviews… $20 for adults, and $18 for children. Just as well Hubbie got in for free with our Penny Saver voucher!

A café resides in the first half of the grounds, allowing you to enjoy yourself for a bit amidst exploring for those 4 hours or so, where you can indulge in some fine fare and drinks (licensed too, so take your glass of bubbly to the lawn and chill!)

My only gripe out of the whole evening, was that there are only one lot of toilets up in the café. Seeing as baby girl had to go tot the toilet twice, both times while we were half-way to the Games area, it was really annoying to have to turn back and walk ALL THE WAY BACK to the café, instead of keeping forward and finding, I don’t know, at least one outdoor toilet or something, somewhere, anywhere, near the Games area. It would have been so much more convenient.

The deets!

Boneo Maze and Mini Golf

695 Limestone Road Fingal

Prices:

Lantasia Light Walk runs from 7pm every night, and finishes up on Jan 27th – so get in quick!

Lantasia entry for adults is $20; children are $18

General Boneo Maze entry prices:

Adults $18; Senior/student/concession $16; Children (3-17) $15; kids under 3, Free!

Your general entry allows you unlimited Mini Golf (something I will be learning for next time!) access to games, mazes, wetlands, boardwalks, the carousel, and special workshops.

The ‘Adventure Zone’ is an extra $5 per activity/person, or $15 for unlimited wristband (go the wristband, who wants to limit themselves to ONE activity?!)

Tips?

Make sure your littlies have had their bathroom break before embarking on any walks or games, especially as you head away from the café.

And give yourself a good few hours to really enjoy and explore the grounds.

Final say…

Although rushed we still had fun, and further testament to this was baby girl asking me the next day to take her back to the merry-go-round. 🙂 When your kid doesn’t forget, neither do you. I will need to take her back, but there’ll be no twisting of my arm to do it either… that’ll be the job for the Mini Golf…

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