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Hotel review: Lon Retreat & Spa, Bellarine Peninsula

Blink and you’d miss the entrance to Lon Retreat & Spa, but this adult-only sanctuary on the Bellarine is a property you don't want to overlook.

Blink and you’d miss the entrance to Lon Retreat & Spa, but this adult-only sanctuary on the Bellarine is a property you don’t want to overlook.

‘Shh,’ my travel companion tells me as we walk into the adult-only Lon Retreat & Spa.

I’m excited about staying here, having heard about it for years as a must-visit sanctuary on the Bellarine. And now as we walk in, all chatter, it’s obvious the key here is quiet.

Guests are in robes (post-spa treatments) in the open-planned lounge that has a fireplace and calming neutral tones, perusing the bucolic landscape through floor-to-ceiling windows.

There are more than 100 hectares out there to explore, and myriad walking trails and it’s all tucked away at the end of a quiet suburban street in Port Lonsdale.

Every room has views across the farm at Lon Retreat & Spa
Every room has views across the farm

Wellness

“You’re carrying some tension in your upper back,” my spa therapist, Petra Costopoulos gently explains when I arrived for my massage.

“I am an intuitive therapist,” She says, noting the look of shock on my face.

She guides me into a room and gets to work on those back knots, and I leave feeling like I am floating.

Later, we take a dip in the mineral water-fed heated pool and then pour a Teddy & The Fox gin from nearby Bellarine Distillery.

A makers and growers pantry in the foyer is full of local creations from jewellery and teapots to produce. This ‘community engagement’ also extends to the artwork and furniture, which owner Claire Gemes says, “takes advantage of what we have on the Bellarine and shows it off to the rest of the world”.

The Spa at Lon Retreat & Spa
The Spa at Lon Retreat & Spa

A suite life

There are only seven suites in the sandstone building, all with 360-degree views of the ocean and farmland. Each is individually designed and furnished by a local designer, along with Claire.

My suite, Pileus (all of the suites are named after clouds), has a plush king bed, kitchenette and a spacious bathroom with rain shower and a stone bath, fed with mineral water from the property. Windows frame manicured gardens and beyond you can watch as ships pass the Bass Strait.

There’s no restaurant onsite, but an in-season gourmet dining menu means meals can be delivered to your room. Think Coq au vin with pancetta, shallots, autumn mushrooms and pomme puree, accompanied by roasted brussel sprouts with local honey and thyme.

A seasonal breakfast is included and changes regularly, but may include Adelia muesli or buckwheat, coconut and cranberry granola, Schultz organic milk and yoghurt, Lon farm honey, berries, cherry tomatoes, figs and edible flowers, and local sourdough with Lard Ass cultured butter. Believe me, you will not go hungry.

Each suite at Lon Retreat & Spa is individually designed
Each suite at Lon Retreat & Spa is individually designed

The history

Lon has been in the Gemes family for 150 years and is run by the sixth generation, Claire and husband Rob.

Claire’s parents were the first to open the property as a bed and breakfast, which they ran for more than two decades before Claire and Rob renovated it, including sandstone from Port Arthur.

Designed for guests to “take a breath”, the property extensively utilises the mineral waters Claire’s ancestors found more than 100 years ago, which is fed directly into the mineral pool and the two suites with stone baths, including mine.

The heated pool is filled with mineral water sourced from the property
The heated pool is filled with mineral water sourced from the property

The region

The Bellarine is rich in local producers and wineries. Think Jack Rabbit Winery and Leura Park Estate, owned by the Sharp family, who have been instrumental in putting Bellarine on the map as a food and wine destination.

As well as sipping your way around the region, take the ten-minute drive out to Queenscliff and dine at the newly opened Tarra Restaurant in the state-of-the-art ferry terminal where Chef Michael Demagistris (a former MasterChef contestant) serves gourmet dishes with a focus on local produce and beach-foraged herbs and garnishes. It’s art on a plate that tastes as good as it looks.

The details

Address: 25 Gill Rd, Point Lonsdale VIC 3225
Check in: 3pm
Check-out: 11am
Starting room rate: Starting from around $1440 for a two-night stay (off-season)

For more information, visit lonretreat.com.au

The writer stayed as a guest of the hotel.