Escape to serenity
12 May 2009,
by Cezanne Laidlaw
BY the fourth course of the degustation dinner I am starting to doubt lunch was a good idea. But the flavours of the garlic infused fillet steak drifts up through my nostrils and proves too much to ignore and I indulge further. Two hours later as I spoon the last bite of the chocolate tart into my mouth, I know I am well and truly done and have possibly gone to gastronomic heaven.
I lean back in the oversized chair (which has since proved useful in accommodated my expanding waist line) and take in the spectacular view of the Gold Coast skyline. Perched high above the Hinterland, I’m reclining at Ruffle’s Lodge for a weekend getaway. Seated next to me is John Nicholls owner of the lodge who enthusiastically tells me throngs of stories about his time chartering boats in the West Pacific Island, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour.
“We chartered many celebrities you know, we’ve had Bill Clinton on board,” he says in a blasé fashion. You can tell John isn’t phased by status and or materialism as he more enthusiastically explains how he crafted the wooden table used in the lodge’s day spa, and in fact the table we are eating our dinner off. It’s exactly this personalised hospitality that attracts guests to the lodge. John and his wife Jan enjoy mingling with their guests each night over pre-dinner drinks; adding to a sense of familiarity which abounds at the lodge.
But privacy is prime with each villa situated a comfortable distance from the next. The lodge offers three styles of accommodation and each room houses two people, with a variety of options available to suit every desire and taste. One thing is certain though: you have to love the serenity. The lodge is surrounded by bushland, which consequently invites all sorts of native creatures into your abode. It’s inevitable that you’ll have to share the path to the main lodge with lizards and cane toads, something which seem surprisingly less scary in the wilderness than in the city.
The day spa is a welcomed addition to the lodge where ladies (and gents alike) can relax and unwind. With a chipping green for golf enthusiasts and hours of bushwalking trails surrounding the lodge, there is definitely not a lack of activities. Not that many guests do very much when they come to Ruffles. It’s certainly a place of pure relaxation where the early morning bird chirps are soothing rather than annoying and breakfast is served with a smile overlooking the Gold Coast which seems inferior from such great heights.
Seasons come and go but at Ruffles every change of wind brings out a different quality. The culinary delights are never ending with chef Nerys Kinnaird preparing each meal with zest and passion. Matched with a range of local wines, the morning, afternoon and evening indulgences entice every guest.
The main lodge building is an extension of the Queenslander style of construction with a large verandah, stone walls and aged timber re-milled from 100-year-old wharves along the Brisbane River. With an open plan kitchen placed in the middle of the lodge, the place has a distinct homey feel to it. Books line the lounge area and whisper for you to relax in luxury lazily paging through a book.
Ruffles Lodge is in Willow Vale a short 30 minute drive from the heart of the