Where to stay and some insider information
Travelling South from Perth and in need of ideas about where to stay and what to do?
I’m going to let you in on a bit of a secret. Lots of people choose to stop at Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River, and why not, they are wonderful places to explore, but if you’re looking for a little more serenity, somewhere that’s a little less discovered, then you should think about staying near Yallingup in the Cape Naturaliste region of South West Australia.
Fabulous things to do
First up I’m going to suggest 10 fabulous things to do around Yallingup, and secondly I’m going to take your hand and lead you around one of the most beautiful places to stay in the region – from where you can easily explore these 13 suggested attractions without having to drive more than a few kilometres in your car.
Now doesn’t that sound relaxing?
Know where the Hotel is? Read on to find out.
10 things to do around Yallingup
- Visit the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and take a walk on a section of the Cape To Cape track
- Go surfing. If you’re a pro try the world class wave at Yallingup – it’s a big left hander break.
- Go swimming, go snorkeling or just beach walking at Yallingup beach where there’s a protected lagoon for sunning and snorkelling.
- Go to Ngilgi Caves for an awesome cave experience.
- Play golf at Dunsborough Lakes Golf Course (18 hole championship course)
- Go wine tasting at one of the many nearby wineries or organise a wine tour with one of the local wine tour companies.
- Visit Happs Pottery & Gallery on Commonage Road.
- Be inspired by John Streaters fine furniture gallery on Caves Road, near Yallingup.
- Learn about Aboriginal culture at the Wardan Aboriginal Cultural Centre on Injidup Springs Road.
- Visit the Yallingup Gallery on the corner of Caves Road and Gunyulgup Valley Road.
Where to Stay
It’s not everyday that you get invited for a sleepover in what must rate as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. And even less likely is the fact that it’s surrounded by forests, vineyards and beaches.
Windmills Break is situated in the beautiful South West of Australia between Dunsborough and Yallingup and Tripadvisor has named it in their list of the Top 6 Hotels in Australia for 2012.
It was actually the second night of our 25th Wedding Anniversary celebrations so in reality not a a proper celebration at all, but General Manager Sean Watt made sure our stay in a premier spa apartment was a night to remember.
Arriving a little before two in the afternoon we had driven from Dunsborough along the wooded Caves Road for about 4kms towards Yallingup before ducking off into an oasis in the forest, where 5 Star Windmills Break is completely hidden from view.
An embarrassing moment for me
Our room wasn’t quite ready, but as luck would have it, owner Geoff Larsen was on hand to whisk us around the gorgeous grounds, after which we enjoyed complimentary coffee and muffins (are available for hotel guests all day long) by the log fire in the super-luxurious lounge area.
Don’t tell anyone, but I managed to spill coffee and fresh beans all over the coffee table, and had to surreptitiously mop it all up, while hoping that nobody had spotted my gaffe.
Oh gosh, there’s always one isn’t there?
Stuffing coffee soaked tissues into my handbag (a present from He Himself on a previous wedding anniversary) was not strictly celebrity behaviour, but walking around the grounds definitely made me feel like a celebrity.
First impressions of Windmills Break
I can’t actually summon up the words to describe my first impression of Windmills as we walked into the reception area, and gazed out over the restaurant to the palm filled garden. I can remembering breathing out deeply and saying, “Oh migosh. Unreal!”
The first thing that struck me about Windmills was its understated elegance. Pure class, but with a dreamy aspect that has you thinking ‘I wish I could stay longer than just one night!’
What’s to love?
As you walk into the reception area, your eyes are drawn beyond the sumptuous lounge and bar towards the garden which is full of Australian native plants but also big palm trees, and the whole effect is quite tropical. For a moment I felt we could have been in Queensland rather than WA.
Geoff explained that he bought the hotel over 5 years ago and called it Windmills Break not only as reference to a play on the words ‘take a break’ but also after the surf break nearby. He’s made extensive renovations to the property, clearly visible in the lounge where a feature fireplace dominates. Despite the fact that it was the 1st of November, the welcome blaze from the fire crackling in the dry stone, dual aspect hearth was really heartwarming, welcoming on a day when spring showers and grey sky dominated.
The lounge, dining and bar areas flow into each other and everywhere you look you’re either confronted by beautiful forest or the amazing landscape photography of Christian Fletcher. If you like his photography you can purchase prints from his gallery in Dunsborough, just 4kms away.
What are the rooms like?
A blue fairy wren welcomed us to our ‘Premier spa apartment’, and then sat on the wing mirror of our car and tapped his beak against the mirror. I suspect he couldn’t believe how beautiful he was!
But sadly little fellow, my attention was drawn away from you and towards the amazing spa suite. Here’s a link to what you can find in the apartment, suffice to say that there is nothing lacking.
Windmills garden … like a garden of Eden.
If you want a romantic break, then I can recommend Windmills. For out in the garden a wooden decked area leads you towards sweeping lawns, the tennis courts and the beautiful rim flow pool, alongside which is an outside spa heated to 35 degrees.
Later in the day, after a walk on Yallingup beach just 3kms away, we immersed ourselves in the bubbling spa water for over 45 minutes steaming away our everyday worries and woes, without another soul in sight.
Then, well percolated, it was time to get dressed for dinner, and I put on a long dress and some bright lippy knowing that this was probably going to be a very special night.
Dinner at The Break Wine Bar
Talented, young German chef Uli Seichter put together a tasting menu for us paired with local wines and for several hours we munched, chatted and sipped our way through a meal fit for kings and queens.
If you enjoy Tapas style dining, then you will probably enjoy the variety and selection on offer.
First up was a sparkling Flying Fish Cove pinot chardonnay which we sipped by the wood fire. Oh, bliss!
Tapas portions are enough for two
This was followed by a Snake & Herring, 2012 Teardrop Riesling which we had with Uli’s amazing Kataifi wrapped scallops with a chorizo-potato salad ($25).
Next we tried a Millbrook 2012 Sauvignon Blanc which was paired with the homemade goats cheese and lavender ravioli with walnut butter and caramelized onions ($24).
After that it was a Greedy Sheep (love that name!) 2011 Rose. The wine was named after a flock of greedy sheep that came into the vineyard one night and started chomping the vines! This we had with a hazelnut and herb crusted Barramundi with glazed radish and rocket ($25).
But wait, there’s more! Next up we were treated to a Deepwood Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. He Himself was thinking now he’d died and gone to heaven, especially as we had this with red wine poached venison medallion, dried apricot compote and parsnip puree ($25).
Because I’m a girl, the last course was to die for! A dreamy chocolate mousse with orange passionfruite sauce ($14). Yes, I can still feel it on my hips, but it was worth it! This was served had with one of our favourite Margaret River dessert wines, a Vasse Felix Semillon Cane Cut – just right.
Overall, we likened our stay at Windmills Break to an amazing opera or symphony, deciding that it’s the complete experience which makes a great hotel great. For it wasn’t just the lovely suite, or the gardens or the evening meal which made it so memorable, but everything connected to all of that; the warm welcome, our beautifully clean and well prepared room, gorgeous gardens immaculately manicured by a team of gardeners, meals so expertly prepared by the chef and her team, right down to the farmers and fishermen who had provided the freshest of fresh produce and of course the service from the very capable and knowledgeable staff.
We realized that to provide a magic experience for guests it’s essential for everyone to work together towards a common goal, a bit like being part of an orchestra or a big stage production where nothing can exist in isolation.
General Manager, Sean Watt manages to oversee the Windmills production with effortless ease, and that morning, just back from a well deserved family holiday, he put his hotel duties aside and kindly agreed to chat with me and pose for a couple of photos.
5 Fast Facts
- The restaurant is open to hotel guests and non-residents for dinner (no lunches) from Thursday to Sunday and serves Tapas style food (portions are for two people). The restaurant is likely to be open 7 days a week after Christmas 2012. There is a fabulous bar area.Windmills has a full hotel and bar license.
- There are only 13 rooms, and 26 guests can be accommodated (but no children), and the property itself stretches over 10 verdant acres, with a level 1km walking/jogging trail around the buildings.
- Tennis courts, lots of secret spaces, little waterfalls, the sound of trickling water, abundant birdsong, a very pretty swimming pool and a steamy outside spa are key features of Windmills Break.
- Wi-Fi is available in all the rooms, plus complimentary lap tops and internet for use in the media area which also has many DVD’s and books you can borrow.
- Cocktail parties and weddings can be catered for up to 200 people. Evening dining is available for 40 to 50 in the Break Wine Bar, four days a week.
What I liked the most
- The gorgeous grounds and our sumptuous spa suite
- A newspaper delivered to our door by 8am
- A lovely welcome letter and a fresh vase of flowers in our room
- He Himself liked having an Ipod docking station in the suite, as well as two huge flat screen TV’s – one in the lounge and one in the bedroom (no squabbling over channels, no siree!)
- I loved the Peter Morrissey amenities and the little powder room off the lounge area – great to have a separate toilet area to the main ensuite.
- We both loved the large spa bath with a picture window looking out onto forest, and also the outside spa beneath the palm trees in the garden.
- Yallingup is only 3 kms away.
- The name Yallingup is an Aboriginal word meaning “place of love” (the “up” part meaning “place of”).
- Did you know that Yallingup has bred some of the world’s greatest surfers?
- It’s a small town nestled amongst the trees along the coast, just south of Cape Naturaliste. Its caves were discovered by European settlers in 1899, and after that Yallingup became popular with tourists. These days, tourism and viticulture are Yallingup’s main industries.
- The beaches of Yallingup are well known for their surfing and fishing spots while the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park is home to Canal Rocks, an interesting coastal rock formation where there’s a spectacular short walk along a boardwalk that crosses the rocks over the sea.
- Yallingup Beach has a sheltered lagoon with calm waters, ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
My stay at Windmills Break was complimentary but all opinions are my own.
I’m linking this post to Travellers Sandbox. Pop by and see all the other wonderful travel stories from around the world there as well.
Have you visited Windmills Break or do you have a favourite hotel or lodge that you’ll never forget? Why not tell us about it in the Speak Your Mind reply section below?