Escape to Spicers Hidden Vale

For the past two months or so, I’ve been absorbing everything city life.

I’ve been asked on many occasion if I miss the beach after our move from the Sunshine Coast. This question usually illicits a tilt of the head and a few seconds’ contemplation on my part.

And then a, “no”.

For now.

The beach is there, right where I left it. I know I can visit whenever I want but this move to the city came with an enthusiasm to embrace our new lifestyle, and the pace that goes with it.

Then the lovely offer landed in my inbox*. A chance to spend a weekend away from the city. And ever further from the beach.

Was I ready to slow my new pace down a notch?

I’m hardly what you’d call a country girl.

I did a little research. And I discovered that a weekend in the country may offer a slower pace should you choose but that slowing down doesn’t necessarily require sacrificing creature comforts.

Turns out it can actually mean an increased level of creature comforting, with five-star food and a very fine wine and cocktail list on the side.

So last Friday afternoon, Mr SY loaded up his borrowed Dad’s Nissan Nivara dual cab (apparently it helps to look the part, right down to the car you drive to the country) and we headed west.

Not that far, either. Just an hour from the inner-city traffic jams, the sun dropping behind the distant mountains, we reached our destination: Spicers Hidden Vale.

Spicers Hidden Vale

Yes. One. Hour.

I think that’s the key to a good weekend escape, don’t you think?

Knowing that getting there will be easy but also knowing it’s far enough away to give you that sense of escape from the every day.

Spicers Hidden Vale was formerly a Peppers property but became Spicers when Flight Centre co-founder Graham Turner and wife Judy launched the Spicers group in 2010. You can check out the rest in the group here.

Spicers Hidden Vale - lap pool

The accommodation

The site itself has a long history of settlement.

The property’s homestead now houses the award-winning Cotton’s Restaurant. More about that below.

Accommodation is in colonial-style homes – either homes that were relocated to the property from Brisbane or Toowoomba, existing buildings from elsewhere on the 12,000 acre property or built in recent years to the same style.

Our accommodation was the two-bedroom Hereford cottage (yes, all the cottages are named after breeds of cows and the property is still a working cattle property) which came from Chelmer in Brisbane. Both rooms have ensuites, one room has a king-size bed, the other a queen. There’s a full kitchen, dining and lounge. There are bigger cottages and you can also book just a room.

Spicers Hidden Vale - Hereford cottage

Our favourite spot was the back deck which overlooked one of the pools and out towards the Great Dividing Range. The way the morning and evening light played on the landscape was something I’m more used to seeing on a painting.

The local wildlife enjoyed it too.

Spicers Hidden Vale  - kangaroos grazing in the afternoon sun

The decor is country cottage style. It’s not my usual decor of choice but it grew on me over the course of the weekend. I would love to see a modern taken on country style but that’s just my preference.

Spicers Hidden Vale - Hereford Cottage

Snaps to the choice of amenities – Australian brand Appelles.

Spicers Hidden Vale - Appelle amenities

The ultimate test for me in any accommodation away from home is always in the quality of sleep, ie the quality of the bed and bedding. I can report it was superior.

The spa

The other test of a good escape is the pampering on offer. Those who’ve been reading for some time will know I’m a Spa Rat from way back. I’ll never chance getting a spa appointment by waiting until I arrive. No. I book in advance. Always.

Let this be a valuable lesson to you if you also have a penchant for all things facials and massages.

Spicers Hidden Vale - Spa Anise
Spicers Hidden Vale - Spa Anise

What the Spicers Hidden Vale Spa Anise (this is the branding of all spas in the Spicers chain) lacks in size, it makes up for in quality of treatment. The spa is located in what was formerly the property’s laundry and has two treatment rooms.

The lovely Camille wasted no time in helping me with my ongoing neck, shoulder, arm issues. We started with some “homework” … some yoga moves I can do (and have been doing!) with my neck, chin, and shoulders while sitting at my desk and then she got to work massaging me into beautiful coma-like state that I really, really didn’t not want to awake from.

The food

Possibly the only thing that was going to successfully entice me from this very pleasant horizontal position was the thought of another amazing meal at Cotton’s Restaurant (Cotton’s is also open to the public – you don’t need to be staying in-house to enjoy).

Spicers Hidden Vale - Cotton's Restaurant

I really had not expected to experience the quality of dining and service that we did.

Friday night’s five-course degustation menu with matching wines set a very high benchmark. One that was met and exceeded at each subsequent meal time.

If you are staying in the cottages then you don’t need to eat at the restaurant for your meals. You can self cater. We’d do a combination of both eating in and eating out on a future visit.

But I urge you if you do take the self-catering path, to have at least one dinner at the restaurant. It is THAT good.

Head Chef Ash Martin has harnessed the power of the locally available produce and serves it up with an emphasis on minimal fuss and maximum flavour. His wife Andrea, has swapped a Melbourne law career for front-of-house duties.

It’s a powerful hospitality combination I’ve seen before. This enthusiasm for the food and service is infectious when dished up double time like this. The winners are the definitely the guests.

We’re still both dreaming of the Chateaubriand dish we shared on Saturday night. It’s a $100 dish for two. The 650g melt-in-your-mouth local eye fillet is sliced and served medium rare on the table in a baking dish with brocolini, carrots, field mushrooms, greens, horseradish cream and jus.

Spicers Hidden Vale - Cotton's Restaurant - Chateaubriand local eye fillet

The desserts sampled ticked all the boxes too – particularly the Lauriebrook goats milk panna cotta with mango, almonds and gelato served as part of the degustation.

Spicers Hidden Vale - Cotton's Restaurant - Lauriebrook Goats' milk panna cotta, mango and almonds

How we fronted up for breakfast after two very satisfying meals the previous evenings, I do not know. But front we did for a more intimate take on a breakfast buffet. Much more civilised when served at your table, don’t you think?

Spicers Hidden Vale - Cotton's Restaurant - breakfast

And then the option of ordering a cooked meal featuring local produce. Mmmm … possibly the best bacon I’ve ever tasted.

Bacon that was indeed therapeutic on both mornings on account of sampling the very good wine and cocktail list at those aforementioned evening meals.

Spicers Hidden Vale - Cotton's Restaurant - breakfast

The activities

Thank goodness for balance, I say.

So much good food and wine could have meant that we rolled our way back to Brisbane but Spicers Hidden Vale is also a place that encourages you to balance out the relaxation and indulgence with a little activity. Or a lot of activity if you choose.

Mr SY is relatively new to mountain biking. I’ve fostered this as it means that the lycra is housed underneath normal shorts, not on show for the whole world to see more than needs be seen on a grown man. He brought his bike and Master SY’s with us and was pretty keen to hit the trails.

These trails are very well set out and clearly marked. They’re also graded by levels of difficulty. I walked the easiest of the trails with Master SY on Sunday morning – it took about an hour while Mr SY was out conquering some of the more challenging routes for about the same time.

Not staying but keen to hit the trails? You can buy a one-day pass and explore the 50km of tracks.

The boys also got to enjoy the trails on the back of a horse – Master SY led by the incredibly patient horsewoman, Michelle. It was his first time on a horse and she made him feel incredibly at ease in the saddle.

Spicers Hidden Vale - pony lead

Michelle was also our driver on an hour-long 4WD tour of part of the property. The area badly needs some rain but it was great to see and hear about the re-afforestation efforts happening on site. I’d book in for the Sundowners tour next time for a different perspective and some wine and cheese while watching the sun set over the Lockyer Valley.

Check out the video below for a GoPro view of what we got up to.

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Kid friendly?

Spicers Hidden Vale is a great destination for couples but it also offers a very warm welcome to kids.

I think the sense of space is always a good thing when holidaying with kids. No chance of cabin fever here as there is so much space. Kids sense that.

Staying in a cottage does make it do-able too as you can bring your own food and you have a lounge room so good inside space as well.

Master SY loved the pools, the animal farm and convinced us that we should have a family game of tennis. Hopefully this was not witnessed by anyone as we officially do not win at tennis.

At Cotton’s Restaurant there is a kids’ menu and staff made him feel just as special as we were made to feel. It might be a stretch in the restaurant with toddlers but with an iPad and headphones put firmly in place on our 8YO after he finished his meal, we got to enjoy a non-rushed dinner.

Will we go back?

Absolutely. We’re looking at dates now to return when it’s cold enough to light and stoke the fire.

Spicers Hidden Vale - Cotton's Restaurant - The Library

When you do a weekend escape, do you prefer the bush or the beach? Been to Spicers Hidden Vale? 

Accommodation is priced from $299 per night in a Valley View room, including full breakfast daily for two people. Cottages are priced from $598 per night.

Family luxury adventure giveaways are priced from $895 per family per night (two adults; two children) and include cottage accommodation, daily gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinners (alcoholic beverages not included), morning and afternoon tea, two chargeable activities per day and a one hour massage. Mention this offer and also receive a free 30-minute spa treatment.

For more information, click here.

* We were hosted as guests of Spicers Hidden Vale for this weekend. 

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  • http://www.styleandshenanigans.com/ Vanessa

    What a wonderful weekend! You had me at “5 course degustation”! x

  • Steph @ Lipstick & Cake

    I feel relaxed just looking at those photos! What a lovely weekend x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      If only it was happening again this weekend! x

  • http://www.applebeelane.com.au Sandie @ AppleBee Lane

    What a beautiful weekend – you must have come home so relaxed!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      We did – and full!

  • StyledbyBec

    This looks awesome Nikki. I have heard of it but we are still in the toddler/baby stage and we can’t wait to have family weekend adventures like this in the future. Sounds like you had a great time and that food… oh my pregnant belly made a leap! :)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      You’re in a wonderful family stage Bec and yes you would have been in heaven with the food!

  • http://www.lifestylefifty.com/ Johanna

    Everything about the place looks fantastic! As you say near enough to the city to have a full weekend without spending hours to get there, and plenty to do when you’re there. I’d definitely book a spa treatment and go on a horse ride. What bliss :)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think that’s the key to a relaxing short escape Johanna!

  • Bec

    Isn’t it amazing there! I’ve been to a few of the Spicers now and cannot fault them. Must get back to Hidden Vale soon after seeing this! I’d like to try Spicers Peak Lodge also……a little more out of the budget but may be good for a significant celebration like our 10th wedding anniversary!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I’d like to try the Spicers Peak Lodge too Bec – is more difficult for us to get away without our youngest but never say never!

  • http://www.eatdrinksoul.com/ Leanne | Eat Drink Soul

    As I said on one of your Intagram pics that destination has my wedding anniversary all over it! And best of all it’s in June so we’ll enjoy the cooler weather fireside. Oh and I’m booking in for a massage on arrival!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Absolutely! I’d book soon as I suspect the winter weekends fill up quickly!

  • Kelly

    We usually do the beach thing but so rarely get away. That place looks amazing!! I could see myself enjoying that beautiful eye fillet. A lot!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I would drive back in a flash for it Kelly … can still “taste” it!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I would drive back in a flash for it Kelly … can still “taste” it!

  • Alex

    Looks like an amazing weekend Nikki, and THAT BREAKFAST. Woo!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It was all amazing. Have not felt the need to eat much this week. I wonder why?!!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    What a lovely getaway! And well deserved too :) we loved our stay at Spicers in the Hunter Valley too.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Lorraine … love the concept of the Spicers chain. Good ones on the Sunshine Coast too.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    This looks stunning Nikki I wish I had Camille to massage my neck and arm but have to be very careful as apparently it is very delicate will know more after a MRI .
    I am glad you had a lovely relaxing weekend away I do prefer the beach but probably because I live no where near one ,beautiful pics thank you for sharing x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I’m always careful but knew that Camille knew her stuff in this case. Thanks re the photos – I love having fun with photography.

  • Petra

    It looks like a beautiful place to stay – thanks for sharing this with us Nikki.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      It was Petra and you’re welcome!

  • MotherDownUnder

    We looked at getting married there (when it was a Peppers)…so beautiful! We ended up getting marred at Noosa…the beach won that time!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Noosa is always a good idea! I did see some wedding photos from Hidden Vale and it looked an amazing spot for that – or any big party really.