Have you ever wanted to feel like Royalty, just for one night?
You know, whisked away to somewhere exclusive and beautiful that’s hidden from the world at large, where everything is top of the range, where no detail has been spared, where there’s a fabulous restaurant complete with a famous chef?
Well, call me Lady Muck if you will, but I quite often wish for that.
Listed as one of World’s Top 100 Hotels
Imagine my delight when it became a reality. For on the night of our 25th Wedding Anniversary I was whisked off to a five star hotel in Australia’s South West, one which has been voted in the Top 100 Hotels in the world.
The delightful Cape Lodge is situated between Dunsborough and Margaret River and it’s won many accolades. It was voted “Best Boutique Hotel in Australia, and listed in the “World’s Top 100 Hotels” as well as rated in the “Top Ten in the World for Food”. It’s also one of the places where Oprah Winfrey stayed on her visit to Australia, so I was left in no doubt that this was going to be a night to remember.
Gourmet cuisine and pampering
Surrounded by its own vineyards and in the heart of the Margaret River region we knew that gourmet cuisine and premium local wines would be the order of our day and night.
It was Exactly what we wanted.
After all, 25 years of marriage is either worthy of celebration or commiseration, maybe a bit of both, but it’s definitely a life achievement that deserves some attention, I think.
“A successful marriage is not a gift; it is an achievement,” said Ann Landers (1918-2002).
The South African connection
A charming co-incidence was that we were actually married in South Africa, and spent 6 years living near Cape Town, in Somerset West, where fine examples of beautiful Cape Dutch architecture abound in pure whitewashed elegance.
And guess what?
Cape Lodge is built in the Cape Dutch vernacular and has another Southern African connection because it started life as a Protea farm (The Protea is South Africa’s National flower) and first of all it was owned and managed by Tony Bird, a Brit who had spent time in Zimbabwe.
I love Cape Lodge’s stylish gabled lines, its memory jolting ability to whisk me back to old Cape Dutch homesteads that sit on my favourite wine estates in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek such as, Boschendaal and Lanzerac.
But mostly I love it just for itself.
What’s it like?
There are only 22 rooms, plus a five bedroom luxury Residence. All have lake or garden views and are situated on 40 acres of parkland consisting of lawns, private lakes, and leafy gardens. It’s a little like being on a private country estate, far from maddening crowds, nowhere near pollution and where privacy is assured.
We were met by Cape Lodge’s friendly general manager, Drew Bernhardt.
“A very warm Welcome to Cape Lodge,” he said before we chatted about this and that after which Veronique showed us to our luxurious Forest Spa Suite, a delightful room with a balcony overlooking a private lake and the forested grounds.
Tears sprang to my eyes as I looked at the huge king size bed where staff had arranged a fragrant red rose surrounded by pink petals in the shape of a heart. How romantic. (Lucky I was wearing pink!)
He Himself swiftly suggested that he photograph the scene for prosperity before I mussed things up and threw all my clobber around the room.
Which of course was an almost sacrilegious thing to do, because the room was magnificent.
Just call me an imposter to the crown.
Extra special touches too
It was the little touches that made the room extra-specially beautiful; the white orchid by a window, the chocolate truffles and complimentary bottle of Shiraz from the Cape Lodge Estate on the coffee table between the couches, the rain water for drinking, and the Vasse Virgin amenities in the bathroom. (Vasse Virgin, a local company produce natural personal care products which don’t contain sodium sulphates or parabens or any other chemical nasties.)
Award Winning Restaurant and Famous Chef
The restaurant overlooking the main lake is understated, elegant, spacious and literally perched on the banks of the water. It’s been voted in the top ten in the world for food and it’s open seven nights a week and in the expert hands of chef Tony Howell who’s been creating amazing dishes at Cape Lodge for 14 years – he’s also been featured on MasterChef Australia.
“All our dishes are based on fresh produce,” Tony told me as we were invited to try the amazing 5 course Chef’s Tasting Menu ($145) menu that’s paired with premium Margaret River wines ($75). (2012 prices).
Tony is passionate about what he does, and the Cape Lodge menu changes daily. Our dinner certainly reflected his passion to create a gourmet experience. It was amazing, and all I can say is that I would not be able to prepare or cook any of it at home, which for me is the epitamy of a fab meal.
For the foodies out there … We started with a complimentary starter – Buffalo chorizo and goats cheese, followed by Donnybrook Marron pan fried in asparagus soup, with a caper and micro herb salad. Paired with this was a Lenton Brae, Semilion Sauvignon Blanc 2010.
Next up were some Exmouth King Prawns, compressed watermelon, green papaya, nahm jim, and wonton matched with a Rusty Fig, Savarino 2012.
I loved the Augusta Dhufish which came with avocado tian, salmon caviar, verjuice reduction and caper berries. Not normally a Chardonnay lover, I did enjoy the MARQ Chardonnay, Wild ferment 2011.
Then came the Palate Cleanser, a citrus lemonade.
After which we got a little heavier with the Dardanup Beef Fillet, sour cream pastry, mushroom duxelle, duck liver parfait, veal jus along with the rich and complex Heydon Cabernet Sauvignon 2005.
To finish, Dave chose the cheese platter and I had the rhubarb strudel, red wine poached pear carpaccio with almond ice cream. With this we had a Cloudy Bay dessert wine.
We had such a great meal, and spent much longer than the suggested two hours to finish it. In fact I can remember saying to Tony (after one too many glasses of wine) that it was such a fantastic meal would he mind if we just stayed on until sunrise and then slipped straight into breakfast.
We also said that we felt we had just witnessed a ‘symphony of gastronome’ – with Tony being the accomplished conductor who pulls all the many aspects of creating a world class meal together.
Waking up to a grey spring day was not a problem, because first there was birdsong. Then there were fluffy white dressing gowns and a hot spa in the huge oval spa bath looking out over the grounds from a large picture window.
We took a leisurely walk around the grounds on the 1.8km walking trail, wandering around the lake and the veggie gardens (good to see where the restaurant’s veggies come from), and on around the vineyards which were in full leaf and looking so green and gutsy.
Then it was time for breakfast, gazing out over that lake again. And more wonderful fresh local Aussie produce.
All too soon it was time to vacate our room and go home.
Ahhhhhh! Writing this I just want to return!
Cape Lodge Margaret River – Fast Facts
Wireless internet is provided free of charge in all rooms, and a computer and printer are available in reception during office hours.
Complimentary home made muffins, tea and coffee are served in the main Lounge of the Lodge every afternoon and there’s a complimentary wine tasting of the Cape Lodge Estate wines each evening too.
Trees around the estate include; Marri, Christmas Tree, Jarrah, Karri, Bull Banksia and Grass Trees. Birds you might spot include; Australian ringneck (parrots), galahs (pink and grey cockatoos), laughing kookaburras, splendid fairy wrens, red winged fairy wrens, new Holland honey eaters, scarlet robins. Wildlflowers in season include; common donkey orchids, native wisteria, prickly moses, red and green kangaroo paws, yellow buttercups and blue Leschenaultia. For more information, see the helpful guide supplied in your room.
It’s a wonderful place for a wedding reception and the lakeside restaurant caters for wedding receptions with up to 100 guests.
11 Things to do around Margaret River
Enjoy a long lunch at one of the Margaret River acclaimed wine estates.
Experience an in depth, guided vineyard and wine estate tour at nearby Cullen, Voyager or Cape Mentelle.
Canoe on the lazy Margaret River
Go whale watching in season (June to November)
Visit a local farmers’ market – Town Square Markets or Vasse Farmers Market
Watch a famous Western Australian sunset over the Indian Ocean
Go walking on one of the many walks in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park
Visit some of the many art and craft galleries around Yallingup and Margaret River – Gunyulgup Gallery, Margaret River Gallery, Boranup Gallery, Yallingup Gallery, Jahroc Gallery – should get you started.
Explore a cave or two – try Ngilgi or Jewel.
The adventurous might like to go on a helicopter ride, or go horse riding, abseiling or rock climbing.
Try surfing – get some lessons and then head to Redgate beach.
While we were at Cape Lodge we drove to Cape Clairault, in the Leeuwin Naturaliste Park travelling along Caves Road, into Wyadup Road then onto Cape Clairault Road to the car park. We walked along the beach and part of the 135km Cape To Cape track, totally undisturbed except for some oyster catchers and lizards, leaving nothing but footprints. Gotta love the privacy of the remote South West beaches.
Disclaimer: My night at Cape Lodge was complimentary, but all views are my own. You can contact Cape Lodge Here.
Coming up in a future Zigazag post – An interview with chef Tony Howell.
Have you been to Cape Lodge or stayed anywhere memorable recently? Why not tell us in the reply box below?