A brand new luxury hotel called Jackalope in the heart of the wine country on the Mornington Peninsula is one of five great reasons to jump in a Melbourne car rental and head south for just over an hour.
A reimagination of luxury and a new voice in high-end Australian accommodation has arrived with the opening of Jackalope Hotel on the Mornington Peninsula. The hotel is a personal project of 29-year-old Melbourne-based entrepreneur, Louis Li, who moved to Melbourne in 2006 to study filmmaking.
Rather than tell stories through film, hotel design is now the creative platform. In addition to luxury accommodation and idyllic vineyard views, Jackalope invites guests on a sensory journey—a delicate interplay between the ideal and the surreal—by reimagining the role of art, design, dining and storytelling in the hotel space.
Jackalope’s 46 rooms introduce guests to a reverie of relaxation. 38 sqm ‘Terrace’ or ‘Vineyard View’ categories range through to 85 sqm ‘Lairs’. Floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces connect guests to the rural surrounds while, inside, bathroom features include deep-soak, black Japanese tubs, rain showers and double vanities.
The spa-like setting is complete with bath luxuries developed exclusively by Melbourne’s Hunter Lab, including a pinot grape skin and seed bath soak and body scrub, made using grapes from the hotel’s vineyard. A dining destination in its own right, two restaurants take their place on the site under the culinary direction of Executive Chef, Guy Stanaway. Refined dining, Doot Doot Doot, presents the region’s finest produce in a series of tasting menus intrinsically linked to the land; while winery restaurant, Rare Hare, designed by Projects of Imagination, celebrates the surrounding Willow Creek vineyard through immersive casual dining and wine experiences.
The hotel’s bar, Flaggerdoot, delights in the alchemic process of distillation. An experimental spirit stirs a daring cocktail menu of both classic and in-house creations. The space itself is an infusion of forms; herringbone floors and open fires warm the room, while commissions and installations from the likes of Peninsula local, Andrew Hazewinkel, and international icon, Rick Owens, create a sense of curated cool.
Outside, a black 30-metre infinity pool laps up to the surrounding vineyard, while a poolside pavilion offers sun lounge service and is also available for massage treatments or private dining. A seven-metre-tall namesake Jackalope sculpted by Melbourne artist, Emily Floyd, has taken tenancy at the entrance to the hotel.
Rates start at $650 per night and include a la carte breakfast, in-room mini bar, wine on arrival and WiFi. More www.jackalopehotels.com
Bass and Flinders Distillery
While on the subject of food and wine, Bass and Flinders Distillery is set in the heart of Red Hill country and is dubbed the “only bespoke distillery and cellar door” that gives you a chance to experience a journey from the stills to glass. Get insights into how they make their fine products including a range of gins, Australia’s first grape based vodka, limoncello and aged spirits. Tours of the barrel room and distillery are offered every weekend and you can score a tasting at the tasting bar. The most unique gin masterclasses in Australia are held here, too, where guests have an opportunity to create their very own bespoke gin. More bassandflindersdistillery.com
Red Hill Community Market
Rise and shine, peeps, and get your stack of cash ready for a smorgasbord of goodies at Red Hill Community Market. Since 1975 the iconic Red Hill Community Market is the place to be on the first Saturday of the month from September to May. Original Jewellery designs make a perfect gift ready to wrap. Manchester of various textures and colours to suit a wide range of tastes and homes. A whole range of exciting foods and beverages are represented, all fresh and tempting. Expect seasonal injections of local fruits and benches full of home grown vegetables. A huge selection of unique culinary delights make a mouth watering taste feast. There’s loads more. Check it out at craftmarkets.com.au/markets/red-hill.aspx
Cape Schanck – Mornington Peninsula National Park
Fantastic beaches and fabulous wines of the Mornington Peninsula are things everyone already knows, but the state and national parks really are the region’s best kept secrets. But the best thing is, they’re easily accessible and stunning. Just like Cape Schanck Mornington Peninsula National Park, for example, at the most southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula at the meeting of Bass Strait and Western Port. It has been protected since the 1800s and was made a national park in 1988 and offers spectacular scenery.
There are walks around the area with spectacular views along the rugged ocean beaches of Bass Strait towards Sorrento and Point Nepean.
Merricks House Art Gallery
Merricks House Art Gallery is a quick walk through the garden from Merricks General Wine Store and the gallery showcases talent from both the Mornington Peninsula region as well as artists from throughout Australia. The 1920 building has been beautifully restored from many years of dereliction. Polished floor boards and open plan design provide a space ideally suited to a gallery. It has become a renowned Peninsula art destination with high profile exhibitions. More mgwinestore.com.au/art-gallery
Hit the road for a scenic drive
Country roads, galleries, wineries and ocean views. You can’t get much better than going for a cruise along the Port Phillip Bay coastline from Frankston to Portsea, stopping at seaside villages and taking the detour up to Arthurs Seat for some fantastic views of the Peninsula. Also explore the peace and calm of the hinterland roads, wild Cape Schanck and historic Flinders before heading up the Western Port Bay coast.