Pulling into the driveway at Merribrook Retreat in Western Australia's glorious Margaret River region, a forgotten yet welcome wholesome feeling takes over. Rolling onto the dirt track sidelined by virgin forest we come across a sign pointing to reception, even though we haven't spotted a single other building yet.
Originally-owned and hosted boutique accommodation, Merribrook Retreat is perched on 160 acres of natural bushland, maintaining its private, luxurious and escapist vibe with just 10 architecturally-designed villas on offer. Warmly greeted by Lorraine and Richard, who founded Merribrook in 1984 and built it from ground up over the years to follow, we are immediately made to feel welcome and easily make ourselves at home.
Despite being located just off a main road and close to wineries, galleries and townships, the retreat is perfectly set in a peaceful valley where the sounds of birds, insects and frogs provide a peaceful backing track and kangaroos freely hop through the grounds.
The true beauty of Merribrook Retreat however lies in its ability to be exactly the kind of holiday you are longing for, whatever that may be. It's the perfect base to explore the Margaret River region's tourist hotspots, as well as a remote sanctuary for those wanting to completely escape all that bustle. It functions as a beautiful conference, training and team-building site, and for those seeking an active holiday there are many peaceful trails to walk, winding roads to ride and beautiful oceans to swim nearby.
Common luxuries for all
With only 10 villas to share all common facilities between, it's not hard to find yourself a quiet spot to relax in. Boasting the largest private pool in the district - 20 metres long and solar-heated - as well as a gorgeous spa with starry sky views and a Swedish sauna, be sure to pack your bathers.
If you find water more relaxing to look at than to swim in, the retreat is perfectly perched on a slope overlooking a freshwater lake, with views from all around the grounds. A small deck and chairs await by the lake, while there's plenty of grass to picnic on.
The Lakeside Lodge, surrounded by beautiful gardens, is a great place to seek respite from your room during an extended stay. The lovely outside verandah overlooks the lake whilst inside it feels much like a warm and cosy ski lodge. You'll find books and DVDs to borrow and tea and coffee making facilities for any time of the day. In the winter, there's even an open wood fire to curl up by.
Kitchen facilities and breakfast
If you aren't heading out to sample the local restaurants at night, a fully stocked commercial kitchen - and a BBQ on the verandah - is available for guest use.
Breakfast however is included. That you will be thankful for. Consisting of a starter buffet of fresh seasonal fruits, cereals, muesli, toast, pancakes, muffins and sweet breakfast loaves, a few different options for a cooked breakfast follows. Locally roasted Yahava coffee and speciality teas are also served.
A villa for every occasion
Merribrook's Lakeview Deluxe Villa provides a high level of comfort for two. It boasts a private verandah and ceiling-to-floor glass offering uninterrupted views over the freshwater lake. Features include a Queensize bed and daybed, exquisite bathroom facilities and a deep double bathtub, and a fan and heating for temperature control.
The Forest Edge Garden Villa suits those looking to bring a few extra people. Recently refurbished, these villas are set amongst beautiful gardens and orchards. Features include a Queensize bed and single daybed in the bedroom, as well as a table and chairs alongside a Queensize bed and single daybed in the main room. It also has a modern bathroom and heating.
The Luxury Lakehouse is Merribrook's answer to your perfect romantic weekend away. Situated well away from the rest of the retreat, and with its own private driveway entrance, full privacy is guaranteed. Fully self-contained, the Luxury Lakehouse boasts its own outdoor starlit spa bath, a natural outdoor shower, and a private deck with BBQ facilities overlooking a small lake. It also features plenty of living space including a couch and kitchen, a Japanese-inspired bathroom, Kingsize bed, reverse cycle air-conditioning, and beautiful robes, candles and flowers to set the scene. If you should wish to leave your hidey hole, breakfast is still included at The Lodge.
All rooms feature a CD and DVD player, iPod dock, small fridge, tea and coffee making facilities. Private massage and pampering services are also available in your villa, which are very popular. It's advised to book ahead.
Take a stroll near or far
A three-kilometre walking/running circuit brings the chance to see more of the Merribrook property if you're feeling active or looking to immerse yourself in nature. Stroll past lakes, mature cork oak, olive and stonepine plantations, and if you want to bring your own bike, you can even ride the track.
For the serious walker, consider the Rails to Trails Track, a five minute drive away, as well as the Cape to Cape Track from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, accessible just four kilometres away. Merribrook Retreat offers Cape to Cape Walking Escape Accommodation Packages, which includes pickup and dropoff each day of your self-guided walk.
Local grooves around Margaret River
From the beautiful coastline to the fresh green forests, and with many charming towns in between, the Margaret River region is world-famous. A prime wine-producing district, there are some 200 vineyards and 90 wineries to choose between, as well as a number of quality cheese and chocolate factories.
Crowds also flock here to experience some of the best surf along the West Australian coastline. Top-notch restaurants, galleries, and arts and crafts outlets also add character to the region. If you plan to really explore, consider buying the Margaret River Gold Pass to get the best value out of your Margaret River holiday.
Armstrong Road 114, Cowaramup, WA, Australia
Contact tel: +61 (0)8 9755 5599, fax: +61 (0)8 9755 5081
Services pool, sauna & steam, massage