Let’s start this review straight up with the view. Not the breathtaking vista that greets me from the architectural masterpiece that is the foyer of Saffire Freycinet which overlooks Freycinet National Park. I’m talking about the elephant in the room which is hard to miss. And, no, there wasn’t an elephant flown in for an Indian wedding gala although that wouldn’t surprise me as Saffire Freycinet are willing to do pretty much whatever it takes to please guests. I’m talking about the elephant in the room: the cost of staying at Saffire.
The big question many potential guests ponder is, “Is Saffire worth the price tag of around $2,000 per night.” So, let’s cut to the chase. After staying two nights at Saffire Freycinet, and having experienced similar properties both in Australia and overseas, the answer to this question is an emphatic “Yes!” Why is Saffire worth the cost? The answer to this is the overall experience. Saffire offers a combination of luxury, location, and above all, high calibre staff who have a personality and presence. It’s the last thing which puts Saffire a cut above other properties with a similar five star pedigree and price tag.
We arrive at Saffire right on the dot of midday from Hobart, which is roughly a two and a half-hour drive away. If you are driving from Hobart plan for just over three hours as you will want to stop multiple times to experience the stunning views along the way and take photos. Entering Saffire Freycinet from the road, you immediately see a not-so-discreet sign saying “Guests Only.” We giggle and wonder aloud whether they might have another sign saying no riff-raff or common folk allowed further up the driveway but fortunately they let us in. We pull up to the entrance of Saffire and are greeted by friendly staff who have walked out to greet us by name and welcome us to the lodge. This did freak us out a little as it came as a surprise, but in hindsight, it was the opening salvo to the service level that is Saffire.
Don’t get me wrong. Service not overbearing and the staff never hover or make you feel uncomfortable. Ever. But the service we received during our stay was so spot during our stay that it was almost precognitive. There is usually some sort of wow factor when you enter a luxury lodge, such as cutting-edge architecture, luxury decor, or a view. At Saffire, you’re met with all three of these things at once. It’s an experience that even the most experienced, well-travelled globe trotter would be in awe of. Now for staff service salvo number two. As we stand at the prime viewing point near reception admiring Freycintet National Park, two glasses of high-end Tasmanian sparkling magically appear on a silver tray.
I feel like I’ve entered a luxury lover’s combat zone where you’re hit with volleys of service, style and a feeling that this can’t get any better at every turn. But, of course, there’s something even more impressive to come. Saffire Freycinet is that kind of place. I’m almost dying of happiness by this point and I’ve only just arrived. I can already see why Saffire Lodge is considered one of the best luxury experiences in not only Australia, but also the world. We are invited down to the lounge area to enjoy the buffet-style lunch with salads, a la carte hot daily specials and the superb view. Our arrival at lunch turns out to be well planned as we discover your stay begins the moment you arrive at the lodge.
Check-in usually is two o’clock, but guests are welcome to arrive a little early to enjoy a leisurely lunch while they wait for their room. All meals and wine are included in your stay. Saffire consists of just 20 luxurious individually named suites arranged in an elegant arc that takes advantage of their elevated position to capture the impressive views over Coles Bay, The Hazards mountain range and Freycinet National Park. We have been allocated the Dove suite which is named after one of five peaks that make up The Hazards mountain range. Dove is also one a Saffire’s premier Private Pavilions and comes with even more luxurious touches than I was expecting.
Some of the standout features include a separate lounge and bedroom, a king bed with views of Freycinet, an enormous bathroom with dual rain showers, a plunge pool in an enclosed courtyard near the entry, and a kitchen. Why the kitchen? As an alternate dining option, you can have a chef visit to prepare something unique with advance notice. This comes with an extra price attached to cover the personal chef, which is understandable, but any food and drinks are included in the tariff. There is another feature that is complimentary with every suite: the stunning view. All suites have jaw dropping views of Coles Bay and The Hazards mountain range which you’re able to enjoy from luxurious surrounds.
In our suite is a chilled bottle of vintage Tasmanian sparkling with a note wishing my wife, “Happy Birthday”. That night, she receives an adorable gift boxed packet of pretty traditional rock candy, with Happy Birthday written on every sweet. She loves this (almost) as much as the wine. We spend the afternoon exploring the lodge and go for a walk to the beach area located on the foreshore of the lodge. It is a beautiful winter’s day with little cloud and no one to be seen or heard. This is a patch of paradise in Tasmania’s pristine wilderness. We are soon preparing for evening drinks in the lounge and the sunset has an even bigger wow factor than the wine and cocktail list combined. Amazing but true, as the wine list is superb with an impressive and well-considered selection of local and international drops.
David, who is lively and fun and quickly becomes one of our favourite staff members, is doing the rounds in the lounge area, chatting with guests and often having them in fits of laughter. We discover during our stay that many of guests at Saffire are regulars and on the first-name basis with staff. This brings me to my point about the personal service touch at Saffire that is also uniquely Australian, where our egalitarian culture rules even in luxury. There is no ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ here, unless that’s what you would like. Even then you might still get a hug and a ‘no-worries’ if you ask for something.
However, although the staff might seem casual, there is always understated respect and their service is exemplary. When an Australian property does service well, it is superb and a joy to behold. With the high caliber of food, wine, and personal service that is present at all times, we found out why Saffire’s Palate Restaurant was a highlight for many guests. The produce here pays tribute to Tasmania’s pristine environment and most of it is locally sourced. From the oysters that are grown in Coles Bay to the mouth-watering Cape Grim beef and honey from Saffire’s own hive, each morsel of food is savoured and enjoyed along with the impressive ambience.
As we waddle back to our suite after a very decadent dining experience, we are soon in awe again of our location. In the sky above us are a billion blazing stars. With the brilliantly clear Tasmanian evening, we are soon rugged up on our deck outside our suite taking in the Milky Way galaxy with the National Park silhouetted in the starlight. What follows the next day is another remarkable food experience at breakfast, followed by a morning guided walk to the lookout on The Hazards and the view of famous Wine Glass Bay. Activities are included in your stay at Saffire and change daily.
These include a guided oyster tasting with fine Tasmanian bubbles in Coles Bay, a beekeeping adventure, guided bush walks and Saffire’s Tasmanian Devil feeding experience at their own rehabilitation centre. Too soon, our stay draws to an close and after contemplating barricading the door to our suite and not leaving, we have to admit it’s time to check out of our room. We head to lunch and enjoy one last delicious meal and a wonderful glass of wine before our departure. I know I have said unique quite a bit in this review, but this is what staying at Saffire is all about. It’s a truly incredible luxury experience in an extraordinary place on earth. The fact that you are surrounded with luxury with highly trained staff that treat you as a friend and some of the world’s most stunning scenery make Saffire truly unique (see, I just did it again). Is it worth the money? Well, let’s just say we’re already saving hard for our return and leave it there.
Disclosure: The writers stayed as guests of Saffire Freycinet. They are already saving up for a return visit at their own expense to celebrate their wedding anniversary.