Expectations are high as we drive up 12 kms of winding road to Spicers Peak Lodge, Australia’s highest non-alpine retreat. Curious wallabies stop eating just long enough to watch us pass and, as we round the final corner, the lodge peeks out of the clouds like a mirage. It’s hard to believe this architecturally stunning two storey aerie surrounded by one of Australia’s most beautiful wilderness areas is located just 90 minutes from Brisbane. There is an undeniable ‘wow factor’ on entering Spicers Peak for the first time. A massive bluestone fireplace takes centre stage in a communal guest lounge and modern minimalistic decor is complemented by leather chairs and soft furnishings in toasty colours. Re-milled Blackbutt timber features throughout and enhances the luxurious, high country atmosphere.
Once inside we’re offered refreshments and invited to look around. It’s too chilly to enjoy a dip in the infinity edge swimming pool at this time of year but the secluded outdoor spa looks inviting. We wander upstairs to discover a billiard table and a secluded balcony that would be perfect for watching the sunset in summer. There are myriad free activities such as mountain biking, swimming, tennis and bushwalking on offer. However, the lure of a treatment at the on-site spa proves impossible for me to resist. Spa Anise is located in an adjacent building with a plunge pool on the deck and treatments are accompanied by the sounds of nature.
A soft breeze rustles through the bush and birds twitter happily as the therapist soothes my skin with divine-smelling coconut scented lotion. I float back to the main lodge just in time for lunch and take my seat at a romantic table for two overlooking a rolling green lawn. We have opted for an all-inclusive package which covers all meals and drinks but there is also a bed and breakfast option for those who prefer something a little less lavish. Dining at Spicers Peak Lodge is the highlight of our stay. Each dish showcases the quality of the ingredients and the excellent wine list offers some interesting choices alongside well known and respected brands.
After lunch we are shown to our suite which comes with a stone fireplace, king size bed and a window seat perfect for enjoying the idyllic view. Spicers Peak Lodge only has 10 rooms with five out of the seven of lodge suites featuring a fireplace, each one of which is unique. Every one of the three spa suites has a fireplace and a spa bath. There are also two private lodges located down the hill from the main building. Each one is self-contained and has a private outdoor infinity spa overlooking the Great Dividing Range.
Spicers Peak follows the tradition of some of the world’s great lodges and offers a complimentary cocktail hour where guests can mix and mingle if they so wish. All rates include pre-dinner canapés so even guests on the bed and breakfast package can join the fun. Some couples retreat to the romantic seclusion of a cosy couch but we strike up a lively conversation with another couple and eventually have to be coaxed into the dining room by the staff. Meeting like-minded travellers is just one of the many joys of staying somewhere like Spicers Peak.
Dinner is a seven course degustation accompanied by impressive wine matches from the in-house sommelier. Herbed gnocchi with sage hazelnut butter is followed by scallops perched on a sliced heirloom tomato sourced from the nearby Granite Belt. Pheasant ballontine is paired with a glass of sophisticated chardonnay and followed by a shot glass of ginger beer, lime and vanilla sorbet to cleanse the palate. After a wild venison course, served with smoked potato and a colourful dash of cranberry we enjoy a petite cheese plate served with lavosh and honey from Spicers’ own hives. Dessert is a delicate concoction of pineapple, local berries and crème chiboust.
Knowledgeable waiters stop by to chat about the food and portions sizes are perfect. We return to the communal lounge at Spicers Peak Lodge and enjoy coffee in front of the fire with our new-found friends and wonder aloud if we’ll have room for breakfast. Of course, we do.
Disclosure: The writer was a guest of Spicers Peak Lodge.
If you’re staying in Brisbane on your way to Spicers Peak, we have reviewed The Calile, The Westin Brisbane, Hilton Brisbane, The Johnson, NEXT Hotel Brisbane, Sage Hotel James Street, Royal on the Park, Ibis Styles Elizabeth Street, Sofitel Brisbane, Gambaro Hotel, and Pullman Brisbane Airport.