Style Sybarite’s seminary
Setting Graceful Werribee Park grounds
Once a Jesuit seminary, Mansion Hotel & Spa, a boutique hotel near Melbourne, has shaken off the austerity to become a favourite escape for families. The original 1870s Italianate manor has been joined by a modern wing, sleek restaurant and soothing day spa. For youngsters, the real appeal lies outdoors… There’s more than a hint of Alice in Wonderland to the grounds, where polo fields, hundreds of rose bushes, an award-winning sculpture park and Australia’s largest parterre gardens provide hectares of potential adventure.
Need to know
Rooms 91, including eight suites.
Facilities Spa, steam rooms, gym, tennis court, gardens, library, snooker room, free WiFi in common areas. In rooms: flat-screen TV, minibar, movies on demand and broadband Internet.
In the know
Sleeping Don’t settle for anything less than a Superior Room. Located in the modern Spa Wing, these rooms have king-size beds, sitting areas, bathrooms with a shower and bath tub, neutral colour schemes and a lush, leafy outlook. If you splash out on a Junior Suite, you’ll also get a spa bath and balcony. Book interconnecting Superior Rooms or Junior Suites so the kids can bunk down next door.
Playing A heated pool, tennis court and the sprawling grounds will keep kids entertained, but the highlight of any family stay here is bound to be Werribee Open Range Zoo. Take a safari tour in the open-top bus to see the menagerie of animals up close, from African wild dogs to zebras.
Splashing Flanked by slate-grey daybeds, the heated indoor pool is filled with light from floor-to-ceiling windows, and illuminated by striking down-lights at night. There’s no separate kids’ pool, but they’re welcome to have a splash here.
Feasting Joseph’s Restaurant & Bar is a dark handsome space of plush charcoal carpets and padded walls, gracefully arching windows and floaty burgundy curtains. At breakfast, choose from the buffet or an à la carte menu. Later in the day, expect modern Australian fare from chef Marcus Levy, who plucks fresh produce straight from the kitchen garden. For tiny tots, there’s a crowd-pleasing kids’ menu and highchairs in the dining room. Packed lunches can be sorted for trips to the zoo.
No need to pack Baby cots and highchairs can be arranged on request.
Time-out Childcare is available at AU$105 for four hours, with 24 hours notice – perfect if you want to nip off to nearby Shadowfax Winery for a tasting and relaxed wood-fired pizza lunch (although kids are welcome too, if you want to make it a family affair). If you’d rather soak than sip, hightail it to the Spa, where you’ll find a Turkish-style hammam, eight treatment rooms with Vichy showers and sigh-inducing massages.
To book a child-friendly Smith stay, visit http://www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326. What’s more, BlackSmith membership is now free for life, so sign up today to receive life-enhancing extras and exclusive offers at more than 850 hotels and holiday houses around the world.