It starts just after I land in Hobart. I am whisked into the airport’s private Saffire Lodge lounge. Quick refresh, an espresso and pick up my snack pack and drink, then fold into a private car to take me to the magical Freycinet Peninsula of Tasmania.
Just two and a half hours away, along Tasmania’s scenic east coast from Hobart (it’s two hours’ drive from Launceston), you turn off the road and cruise towards heaven on earth. (Purely subjective – but hey, I was there.)
Tasmania has to be one of the most beautiful natural islands on the planet, and Freycinet one of the most stunning locations. Set back from the shores of Great Oyster Bay is the silhouette of a curving roof, like a stingray in motion. Coming under the ‘stingray’s’ eaves from the road side, Saffire Freycinet in all its glory – is an architecturally splendid building that sweeps through the bush, and as you walk into the foyer – the bay and a mountain range, the Hazards, is framed by the building’s roofline. The rooms and suites below, ripple like waves to the shore.
This is an Australian luxury lodge, no doubt about it. The lodge, the mountains, the bush, the water – all connected in a seamless and natural co-habitation.
Walking to my amazing room was the ahhh moment that sealed the Saffire deal with me. The floor-to-ceiling glass wall was a picture of Great Oyster Bay, the Hazards and scudding clouds in the bright blue sky in a picture frame. This is where I could sit for a week and not move! But with only two days, best mosey along.
One of the activities offered by Saffire is a visit to the Freycinet Marine Oyster Farm, and so off we went. I was expecting (being a Saffire complimentary activity), a spic’-n’-span operation, white overalls and all! No. This is a working farm, an authentic experience that the region offers – real people, doing real jobs. A double shed with oysters in shells at various stages of maturation and the workers there handed us wetsuit waders, and a farewell: ‘have a good time, gotta pick the kids up’, and ‘just cleaning these up and need to get some of these scallops home for tea’.
We gingerly waded out to discover the marine ecology, the oysters on the nets/baskets, the wetlands and – stopped at a table, standing waist-deep in the estuary. Here we shucked oysters, slipped a few prized Freycinet Pacific oysters down our throats followed by a glass of bubbly. Doesn’t get much better than that!
And while I do love nature, being out amongst the elements (even did a bush walk the following day to Wineglass Bay – spectacular it was too; a beach walk and identified a couple of bird species), at such a wonderful place I also want to play in my room, hang out in the lounge, eat in the restaurant and visit the spa. I wanted to be in total harmony with "the great indoors".
Apprentice chef Corey served the amazing degustation menu. The food here at the curved Palate Restaurant is not only fresh and fabulous, but created and tailored by super executive chef Hugh Whitehouse, a down-to-earth giant, who not only gives of his best but is committed to enhancing the whole wining and dining experience.
I delicately ate my way through the superb meal and when there was not one ounce of room left – Corey made me eat dessert – well, what could I do? Silky, vanilla bean house made ice cream – mmm. The restaurant manager and maître d' goes fishing most days and when he catches the local ‘boarfish’ is plentiful, he brings it back for the guests’ supper. How very fresh of him!
And the spa – yes, it was time for the full facial and neck massage. Bliss, to the nth degree, with trained hands, and elegant, Tassie products – I felt like a million bucks.
Life goes on, but I wanted mine to stop for a while so I could linger at Saffire Freycinet. But planes wait for no woman. Hard to leave my elegant room with its devouring doona, hard to say goodbye to the staff and hard to tear my eyes away from The Hazards as they were shape-shifting in the afternoon light. Gleaming, beautiful Saffire, a most desirable destination indeed, where each and every moment here counts.