Eat breakfast within sight of migrating whales or book out a winery homestead in Western Australia's Margaret River region.
By Katrina Lobley
Western Australia's Margaret River region is home to boutique luxury stays, coastal resorts with jaw-dropping ocean views, grand manor houses, and a stay that's a little out of left field.
Cape Lodge encapsulates the best of the Margaret River region. The 22-room country house retreat is just three kilometres (1.8 miles) from the Indian Ocean but surrounded by some of the area's great wine estates. The hotel features a drawcard lakeside restaurant with a cellar that includes a seriously good back catalogue of Margaret River wines and a chef that extols the virtues of local, seasonal produce. Relax by the pool, play tennis, retreat to the spa or soak up the views over neighbouring vines.
Empire Retreat and Spa
At the heart of Empire Retreat and Spa is a stone and timber farmhouse that was once a family home. Today the farmhouse's ground floor serves as the communal hub for this 10-suite luxury retreat, which combines cosy, soft furnishings and a romantic vibe with architectural high style. Stay in a suite in the farmhouse or in one of the villas connected via boardwalk. The dining room offers glorious floor-to-ceiling views of the bush. If the weather's good, dine out on the timber deck. The on-site spa includes large stone baths and a couples treatment room.
Pullman Bunker Bay Resort
The turquoise waters of Bunker Bay, near Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, are within sight of Pullman Bunker Bay Resort. Accommodation ranges from studio villas to two-bedroom villas suitable for families. Dine at the resort's Other Side of the Moon restaurant – named after a famous nearby surfing break. If you breakfast on the terrace between mid September and mid December there's every chance of spotting migrating humpback and southern right whales. The resort also features an infinity edge heated swimming pool and an award-winning day spa.
In 1976 the founders of Cullen Wines, the pioneering Diana and Kevin Cullen, built a house from local granite and timber, positioning it so it offered sweeping views over vineyards. Today that place is known as The Homestead, and it's available to rent as a self-catering holiday house. The main house has three bedrooms, and a three-bedroom studio can also be used to cater for larger groups. Stroll across to Cullen Wines for a tasting (the flagship drops are named in honour of the estate's late founders) or venture further afield to taste your way around this world-famous wine region.
Smiths Beach Resort
Smiths Beach Resort is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World stable. The Yallingup property offers an environmentally sensitive design and accommodation that includes apartments, villas, beach “shacks” and beach houses. The resort overlooks Smiths Beach and is located on the Cape to Cape walking track. If you feel like simply lounging around, pull up a deckchair beside the infinity swimming pool.
Injidup Spa Retreat
Overlooking Injidup Bay, south of Smiths Beach, is Injidup Spa Retreat, a luxurious 10-villa retreat also on the Cape to Cape Track. Each villa comes with its own plunge pool, sweeping views over the Indian Ocean and a kitchenette where you can prepare breakfast from the provided hamper. To celebrate a special occasion, ask the chef to serve a four-course dinner in your villa. It's also possible to arrange an in-villa meditation session, or head to the spa for a rejuvenating treatment.
Mile End Glamping
For something completely different, spend the night in an elevated dome. Mile End Glamping's domes-with-a-view include luxury bathrooms, king-sized four-poster beds and full kitchens. Decks have spa baths and barbecues. The domes, with Hamptons-inspired decor, also have air-conditioning and heating. Gourmet hampers and meals can be delivered.
Grand Mercure Basildene Manor
On the outskirts of Margaret River township is Grand Mercure Basildene Manor. With 17 rooms and suites exuding old-world charm, the manor makes a relaxing retreat after a day of touring wineries or hitting beaches. Breakfast is served each day in the conservatory; lunch and dinner are available in nearby restaurants. Relax in the reading room next to the fireplace or take a dip in the outdoor heated pool.
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