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Decanter’s Dream Destination: Saffire Freycinet, Tasmania

Every month Decanter selects a must-visit destination for wine travellers. Tasmania, one of Australia’s most exciting areas for sparkling wine and Pinot Noir, has a thrilling accommodation scene too. It’s time to check into Saffire Freycinet, says Alicia Miller.

The journey to Saffire Freycinet is one that requires commitment. First, you have to make your way to Tasmania – the heart-shaped landmass off Southern Australia – via a two-hour flight from Sydney. Next, you need to drive three hours north from capital Hobart, squiggling along the coast-hugging Tasman Highway.

Then, when you finally reach a peninsula cloaked in a natural park, you must fight to keep your eyes on the road as surrounding hills soar upwards and blue bays rush by. But put in the effort to get to this remote luxurious retreat, and you won’t regret it.

A Signature Suite at Saffire Freycinet

The hotel’s design is remarkable – a silvery, stingray-shaped build, lined in floor-to-ceiling windows, hedged by a row of private villas. Everything here is geared towards that unrelenting view: wild forest, rugged peaks and glittering bay fringed in soft golden sands. Enter the light-flooded contemporary lounge, where a sleek wooden ceiling ripples above and gas fireplaces flicker lowly, and it feels a bit like you’ve wandered into the pages of Architectural Digest.

The villa-like rooms are no less impressive. With just a clutch on offer, the vibe is exclusive – and there is not a single dud. All 20 come dressed in Tasmanian woods and earthy hues. They offer sublime views across sun-soaked foliage to Coles Bay and the pink granite mountain range, The Hazards. The top suites are more spacious than a sizeable London flat. They come with dedicated dining areas and kitchens, as well as private plunge pools.

Dining and drinking

Food is a serious priority here. The hotel operates on an all-inclusive basis with well-stocked minibars, three meals a day and bottomless pours from the impressive wine cellar. Think sparklings from Tasmania’s Pipers River, Roswell and Lebrena regions and Riesling from the Tamar and Coal River Valleys. Not to mention Pinot Noir from across the island.

The menus feature a roll call of native Tasmanian ingredients. From abalone to beef to venison, dishes show off the incredible diversity of the local larder.

Out and about

But don’t get too comfortable. Part of the draw of checking in is the excuse to get out. Stays at Saffire Freycinet include unique ‘experiences’ that plunge you into the local landscape, while giving you a taste of its bounty.

Spend a morning wading through crystal-clear waters on a working oyster farm, harvesting briny bivalves and washing them down with glasses of traditional method Clover Hill fizz. Don an apiarist suit and visit hives to learn about the production of Tasmanian honey.

The resort can also arrange visits to a historic vineyard on Tasmania’s east coast, Craigie Knowe. Here you’ll meet winemaker Glenn Travers and sip a selection of his wines.

If you strike out further – and you should, if you’ve made the effort to come all this way – then Tasmania has more riches to discover beyond its sublime wine and food. Saffire Freycinet, with its bountiful connections, can arrange for you to see endangered Tasmanian devils up close or will helicopter you to Currawong Lakes for fly-fishing.

You can self-drive down to Hobart for the day to visit the city’s fabulous MONA museum of old and new art or sample award-winning Tasmanian whisky. Or take the ferry to Bruny Island to tour Australia’s southernmost vineyard.

Or of course, you can explore the other wineries of the island – highlights include Jansz for impressive sparkling or Tamar Ridge for complex Pinot Noir. Just make sure you’re back in time for dinner; whether it’s sticky quail on the menu or scallops with macadamia, you won’t want to miss executive chef Paddy Prenter’s plates.

And just before you make the epic journey home, you have to climb up the famous nearby lookout point, through lush forest and rounded russet boulders. You’ll emerge into the sunshine to a perfect half-moon curve of white beach and azure water blanketed beneath you. The name of this special place? Wineglass Bay. For an oenophile, there can be no more fitting conclusion to a stay in Tasmania.

For more information visit: saffire-freycinet.com.au

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