A weekend getaway should make you feel like you’re far from home, even if you aren’t. It should be relaxing, easy, and make you feel a little bit special, which is exactly how my weekend escape to Spicers Hidden Vale felt.
I had heard about Spicers retreats long before I’d ever stayed at one, people would go on and on about how great they were. I assumed they were right but didn’t think too much of it because, really, how great could they be? Since visiting a few of the retreats this year, I’m a changed woman. I’m a Spicers convert! Take me, employ me, just let me stay there forever. Please.
So, what’s so good about Spicers retreats? Why should you stay at one? Is it worth it? In short, yes you should stay at one and yes it is worth it. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why.
You know that feeling when you visit a hotel or other hospitality-based business and you speak to the person serving you and it seems forced or fake? Like they don’t really care about you, they’re just putting on a bad act, like Paris Hilton’s acting abilities type of bad, and they’re laying it on thick? I hate that feeling, it makes me uncomfortable.
When you visit Spicers the people who work there are all so genuine, kind and welcoming. You feel like they’re your friends and they just so happen to run an incredible chain of retreats that you’re enjoying. When you talk to the staff, you can tell they love their jobs and love where they work and who they work for, which makes you feel immediately comfortable and welcome.
Spicers Hidden Vale stays true to all these Spicers values. It’s about 1 1/2 to 2 hours drive west of Brisbane, it’s a nice, easy drive that winds through some really cool little towns you’ll probably want to stop at and by driving west, you shouldn’t have to deal with traffic.
I had heard about the opening of Homage, the new restaurant at Spicers Hidden Vale, and based on how incredible the food was at the other Spicers locations, I was pretty excited for the five-course tasting menu. It’s like a degustation but the courses are slightly larger serves.
Before I had eaten there, I thought the name Homage was just a cool name they’ve chosen because… it…. sounds cool…. or something. But after eating there, I understand the real reason why.
Head chef, Ash Martin, pays homage to every ingredient he uses to create each dish. I’ve never had a dining experience like that before, one which made me think about how clever the head chef has been and made me realise how much has gone into creating everything and how beautiful it is. For the first time, I really tasted each of the ingredients.
That probably sounds weird, so I’ll try my best to explain it. You see, Ash and his team of wonder-chefs source all the ingredients locally. Whatever the team can’t grow in their humble veggie garden or forage from the property, they buy from local farmers. As General Manager Andrea explained, Ash spent a great deal of time establishing relationships with local farmers. It is time well spent because everything that graces your plate is fresh, full of natural flavour and damn delicious.
You can almost taste the water the fish was swimming in, the grains the cattle were fed and the soil the vegetables grew in. It’s farm to plate cooking that doesn’t mess with the food, instead, it makes all those natural flavours shine. And, trust me, it’s to the benefit of each one of your happy little taste buds.
We were treated to the five-course tasting menu with matching wines and I can honestly say it was the best dining experience I’ve had. I cannot recommend it enough!
Breakfast is also a treat, the coffee is fantastic and you’re started off with a share platter of croissants and jam, fresh fruit and bircher muesli. There’s an a-la-carte menu to choose from, which includes french toast, eggs benedict and other delicious seasonal produce.
We stayed in a Luxury Cottage, which was bigger than my one bedroom apartment in Brisbane! The cottage was huge, with a generous and comfortable living room that includes couches, a big screen television and a fireplace. The living room opens up onto a deck with views of the Australian bushland that are straight out of an Enid Blyton book. It’s the perfect place to sit with a cold drink and watch the sunset.
The bedroom is also huge, with a really big comfy bed and big, fluffy pillows you can melt into. The large bedroom also opens up onto the deck, but the entire cottage has ducted air conditioning too, which is great for summer visits.
The bathroom is spacious and luxurious, with a big spa bath perfect for soaking in with a glass of wine in hand. There are his and hers sinks, with great bench space and also a big shower with great water pressure and lots of hot water.
So, after you’ve lounged around your luxurious cottage and eaten delicious food at Homage, what else is there to do? Well, after you emerge from your food coma, you should have a chat with activities coordinator, Ash and his side-kick Chilli, the very sweet, very lick-y border collie.
We took a one-hour trail ride through the bush on two very friendly horses, Spyder and Kev. Afterwards, we fed them each a sugar cube and Ash, seeing how happy I was around the horses, let me help out getting them washed and putting their blankets away.
There’s a games room with a darts board, pool table and big screen TV for a bit of chill out time, perfect spot for the lads to hide out with an ice cold beer. There’s also archery, a tennis court, mountain bike trails and Ash can even arrange a sunset wine and cheese platter for you, driving you to a beautiful spot in the bush to watch the sunset.
For a little bit of indulgence, you can spend some time at the gorgeous day spa, Spa Anise or take a dip in one of the two swimmings pools or take a late-night soak in the spa, under the beautiful night sky. If you’re travelling with little ones, there are some rather sweet farm animals including pigs, ducks, a sheep and a goat in the on-site barn.
As you can tell, it’s hard for me to keep this post short and sweet, because there’s so much I want to share with you. To me, that’s a really great indication of how good the stay was and how much I want to recommend it to you.
A weekend getaway to Spicers Hidden Vale is perfect for a couple looking to have a romantic escape or just spend a bit of time away from it all to reconnect and recharge. It’s also the perfect place to get away from the noise of your busy life and enjoy a fantastic meal and wine in a beautiful setting.
Even if you aren’t able to stay for a weekend, I really recommend heading out to Homage for a special occasion dinner or maybe even just treating yourself to a great meal because you know you deserve it.
No matter why you visit Spicers Hidden Vale, whether it’s a special occasion or for no particular reason at all, I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic stay based on the fantastic, genuine service from General Manager Andrea and the whole team at Hidden Vale. It seems simple, after all, it’s pretty much the first rule of hospitality, but when it’s done well it’s what separates a good hotel from an exceptional one.