The best of the West Australian; boutique hotels and refurbished gems plus a few new places to stay.
WA Verdicts from 2007/08
Seashells Resort Yallingup
Seashells Cave House has received mixed reviews since renovations and the introduction of 40 new rooms. Traveller Mark Taylor, 36, says that while the new rooms are bigger and better than the old and the bathrooms are a real touch of luxury, the “upmarket hotel is trying to be too many things.” He was unhappy with the hefty prices at the restaurant and during his stay had no respite from rowdy non-hotel guests drinking at the bar, even when he was tucked inside his hotel room. But something no-one’s denying is the beauty of the heritage-listed gardens and Caves House, which are back to their best.
Yallingup Beach Rd, Yallingup, (08) 9750 1500, www.seashells.com.au
Smiths Beach Resort
Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Yallingup and the wineries, Smiths Beach Resort was bound to attract plenty of attention. Michelle Brydon, 25, visited in March ’08 and raves about the roominess of their one-bed apartment. “But I don’t think the word ‘apartment’ really does it justice. It was a small townhouse, with the bedroom, bathroom and laundry on the ground floor, and a living area, full kitchen, balcony and ocean views on the second storey.” Although finding it modern and luxurious with all the creature comforts, while retaining a “relaxed, beach-side feel”, Michelle thought it was a “bit of a trek” to the nearest shops if you wanted to self-cater. This is overcome by an on-site deli and bottle shop, but they’re not cheap.
Smiths Beach Rd, Yallingup, (08) 9750 1200, www.smithsbeachresort.com.au
Fresh Out of the Wrapper
Injidup Spa Retreat
If hotness was measured in terms of exclusivity, these ten luxury villas near the Bibbulmun Track in Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park would be up there with the best. Local artists have worked their magic in each of the villas, giving the entire retreat an eclectic, contemporary feel and an element of unpredictability. Privacy-conscious travellers can cocoon themselves alongside their own plunge pool, get pampered at Injidup’s spa or kick back with a good book and a glass of wine from the Margaret River region.
Cape Clairault Rd, Injidup, (08) 9750 1300, www.injidupsparetreat.com.au
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef
We’d say this place is so new the paint is still drying on its walls – but there aren’t any. And if you thought the words “tent” and “luxury” couldn’t be used in the same sentence, you might want to add “glamping” to your vocabulary. Nestled among the dunes in spitting distance from Ningaloo’s shoreline, the radically upgraded campsite is in a prime location for a spot of whale shark watching, snorkelling and other aquatic pursuits. Just be prepared to forego TV, phone and minibar and make sure you bring plenty of mozzie spray – it is camping after all.
North West Cape, 1300 790 561, www.salsalis.com.au
Still in Broome, the $50m price tag on the new Pearle Resort just minutes from Cable Beach is pretty hefty. However, the cost of staying in a hotel room or one of 35 villas is more reasonable than you might expect. The spacious rooms, private lap pools, flat screen plasmas and a tropical garden are all top quality – and if you’re feeling a little more sociable than the guests at Injidup, there’s always the shared resort pool and brand new barbies for a good old Sunday sizzle.
Millington Rd, Cable Beach, (08) 9194 0900, www.thepearle.com.au
Pinctada Resort and Spa
Not to be outdone by Darwin’s new waterfront oyster, Broome gets its very own saltwater gem in 2009, too – and this luxury resort, inspired by a historic pearler residence, is in another prime spot: Cable Beach. Owned by Marilynne Paspaley, the pearling dynasty heir’s eclectic taste will be evident throughout the resort. Pinctada is as unique as every one of the port of pearls’ natural gems, combining five-star accommodation, original artwork and handpicked furnishings with high-tech renewable energy systems – and a personal butler service.
Murray Rd, Cable Beach (08) 9192 1355, www.pinctadacablebeach.com.au
Core Luxury Retreat
Set on 17.5 acres near Mundaring just northeast of Perth, these striking moss rock cottages, run only on solar power and rainwater, provide the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. Guests at the family run property can expect help with their detox and general relaxation: on-site masseur, personal trainers, reiki, readings and facials are all on hand. Core Retreat’s owner, Yvonne Renshaw, even ascribes magic energy to her property, “imbuing people very quickly with a calming effect.”
Vernon Avenue, Mundaring, (08) 9295 1626, www.coreluxuryretreat.com.au
Made-up and Made-over
Voyages El Questro Homestead
The latest to be bewitched by WA’s magic is actress Nicola Kidman, who hinted that she may have conceived Sunday Rose during a swim in a local waterhole while filming Australia. Best to avoid that waterhole if you’re not yet ready for the pitter patter of tiny feet, but we do recommend a stay in the refurbed Chamberlain Suite at the historic homestead. A touch of Hollywood glamour will have been added to the iconic outback property when it re-opens on April 1, and the addition of outdoor bathtubs might prevent guests from mishaps in local waterholes.
Kimberley region, (08) 9169 1777, www.elquestrohomestead.com.au
WA Rumour Mill
1. Cable Beach Club Resort Broome will be closing its doors to the public for the month of Feb 2009 to build a new spa and to refurb the resort. We can’t wait to see the results!
2. AT can’t tell you very much about all the money being spend on the InterCon Perth Burswood just yet. Let’s just say we’re excited and that we’ll have all the goss for you in an upcoming issue.
3. Two highly anticipated developments at Margaret River and Rottnest Island have been pushed back to 2011, and redevelopment plans for Bunbury’s Lighthouse Beach Resort have stalled. Stay tuned.
AT’s Top Five – not new, not refurbed, just our favourites
1. Cable Beach Club Resort Broome // Few things rival a drink in their Sunset Bar and Cafe as the camels stroll past of an evening.
2. Injidup Spa Retreat // Modern, clean and stunning retreat in Yallingup – the honeymoon suite is breathtaking.
3. El Questro // Northeast Kimberley gem that will remain one of Australia’s foremost luxury outback experiences for decades to come.
4. Faraway Bay Bush Camp // Far northwest corner of WA, could be the most remote accom in the country. Their cooking schools are amazing.
5. The Outram // Small, classy city hotel in West Perth done splendidly. Massive spa baths a huge plus.