THE Mornington Peninsula has long been one of Victoria’s favourite holiday playgrounds.
And it’s no wonder the patch of land between Port Phillip and Western Port bays is so appealing with a feast of opportunities on offer for those looking to escape the big smoke for a few days or a couple of weeks.
The Mornington Peninsula is one of Victoria’s premiere wine regions, there are dozens of places to eat and drink from fine-dining restaurants to casual cafes, it’s a haven for golfers and day-spa lovers, there’s no shortage of fresh ingredients and artisan producers, and every kilometer of coastline reveals another beautiful beach.
There’s also no shortage of wonderful places to stay, and here are five of my favourites…
When it comes to water views you can’t beat apartment four at Aquabelle with this modern two-bedroom dwelling, that’s so stylish it might appear in a coffee table book capturing the best of contemporary beach-house style, offering an uninterrupted vista across Rye’s foreshore parkland to Port Phillip Bay.
There are seven Aquabelle apartments – with one, two and three bedroom options – and while number four’s address above the Rye shops doesn’t initially look overly appealing it proves to be the best position for a stop-and-flop holiday where the car isn’t needed.
An open plan living area boasts floor-to-ceiling windows framing the maritime outlook while the adjourning master bedroom sits behind sliding doors with the second bedroom at the back of the unit and a galley-style kitchen occupying the long entry-hall corridor.
TUSSIE MUSSIE VINEYARD RETREAT
Tussie Mussie Vineyard Retreat is a corner of calm in tranquil Mornington Peninsula wine country with this private compound, that offers three different accommodation options, hiding in 11ha of vines a stone’s throw from bucolic Merricks North.
The picture-perfect property celebrates a style that comes down somewhere between contemporary country and traditional French Provincial and hides thoughtful features like a long table on the lawn for vine-side dining, a selection of spaces for alfresco eating, a potting shed that’s home to a private dining room, and veggie garden that provides fresh produce for home-cooked meals.
The Old Laundry is a studio for two people, The Owner’s Cottage has two bedrooms as well as cosy living area and well-equipped kitchen, while Vineyard Lodge is the sprawling main house with four bedrooms making it the perfect destination for friends or family holidaying together.
RED HILL ESTATE
The slither of land between Port Phillip and Western Port bays is home to 200 vineyards with Max Paganoni’s Red Hill Estate – one of the most welcoming – the place to find a self-contained cottage with two bedrooms and a magnificent view across the vines to Phillip Island in the distance.
Max’s Cottage at Red Hill Estate, which was once the estate’s original farmhouse, is an easy two-minute stroll from Max’s Restaurant and Red Hill Estate cellar door so those looking to sample the culinary delights of the region can simply shuffle home at the end of an indulgent meal.
The house is comfortable, promising all the luxuries of a rural bed-and-breakfast address including a bottle of Red Hill Estate wine waiting as a welcome gift, and the view from the living rooms makes it hard to close the curtains.
The village sitting on the Mornington Peninsula’s southern tip may be 100km from Melbourne but that doesn’t mean the settlement’s most impressive accommodation option, the Flinders Hotel, runs short on big-city style.
The boutique property, selling a variety of urbane guest suites in a wing known as The Quarters, blends perfectly with the coastal setting by incorporating cool colours and simple interiors in the public and private spaces.
But perhaps the best reason to stay at the Flinders Hotel is the guest accommodations flank Terminus, the award-winning hotel that received four consecutive “chef’s hats” from The Age Good Food Guide.
RACV CAPE SCHANCK RESORT
FORGET the best in Victoria, or even the best in Australia, the Mornington Peninsula is one of the best places in the world to swing a golf club.
While it’s hard to settle on an actual number of courses – locals can’t agree on how many golf clubs sit between Frankston and the Bass Strait breakers, with the count ranging from 18 to 28 – everyone acknowledges it’s the sandy soil, beach-side hinterland, and changeable weather that make it a special spot to go for a game.
There are studios guest rooms as well as one and two-bedroom villas at RACV Cape Schanck Resort providing a place to stay right beside the greens with the agreeable accommodations perched on the side of a coastal hill to frame views across wild windswept gardens to Bass Strait.