In Travel

First Look: The Adelaide Lodge With Six-Star Ambitions

This September, South Australia’s legendary Mount Lofty House will add to its accommodation offering with the opening of $15 million luxury lodge Sequoia.

Named after the property’s four giant Californian Redwood trees – three being 170 years old, one recently planted to celebrate evolution – the 14-suite lodge will feature gorgeous gardens, natural spring-fed hot pools and a wildlife reserve, home to rescued local animals.

Built in 1852 by request of “Gatsby-esque” Arthur Hardy, Mount Lofty House is one of the country’s most highly sought after accommodation, regularly referred to as the preeminent getaway for high society.

A prominent statesman and a keen botanist, Hardy used the manor to host lavish parties and indulge in a lifestyle once described by his wife Martha as “a kind of feudal splendour”.

The backdrop was key to this – the most magnificent gardens imaginable at the time, set against the rolling patchwork hills of the bountiful Piccadilly Valley in the Adelaide Hills, 30 minutes outside the city.

The house’s produce-forward three-hatted Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant has, for the past 10 years of its existence, been the best place to experience such a magnificent view. But now that honour will belong to the open-plan suites of Sequoia, each with private balconies looking out onto pristine surroundings that reach out to nature from the valley’s rim.

“A unique aspect of Sequoia, almost globally so, is that these lodges are at tree level,” says Guest Relations Manager Max Mason. “There’s only one other luxury hotel in the world that’s at tree level, so here you’re facing the canopy, communing with all the birds every morning.

“It’s a spectacular experience.”

Guests relaxing on the balcony will also be treated to immediate views of an on-site wildlife reserve, with the fence hidden beyond the treeline, for a seamless look. Rescued native wildlife such as kangaroos, koalas and wallabies will go about their business, completing the bucolic scenes of Australiana that will, amongst other things, rest heavy on Sequoia’s sense of place.

Although Mount Lofty estate has long been seen as an escape most readily associated with decadence, celebration and celebrity guests – The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac once stayed here – there’s nothing stronger than its uniquely South Australian identity.

Sequoia will be building its character on the fact that it is buried deep in the geographic jewel of Adelaide. Guests of the lodge will be able to choose from bespoke and exclusive experiences that celebrate South Australian stories.

While the full list of activities will be revealed closer to opening, expect behind-the-scenes tours with local winemakers, up-close experiences with native wildlife and private talks with local identities and brands.

A campfire and long table will sit in front of the property, allowing for guests to enjoy fireside dinners and uninterrupted sunset views.

A glass of wine is pretty much mandatory, seeing as Mount Lofty House is approaching a collection of almost six thousand bottles – many in its Bond-like underground cellar – with drops showcasing the best of South Australia, the country and the world. It’s an extension of Sequoia’s unrivalled level of highly personalised service, says Mason.

Also on-site is the Arthur Waterhouse Lounge & Bar – with a fig and chocolate Old-Fashioned, it’s worth the trip alone – and the acclaimed Stables Day Spa.

And, when you’ve exhausted all the estate has to offer, nearby attractions await. These include Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement turned trendy village, Hahndorf, conceptual wine and food destination Lot.100 and the quaint Ambleside Distillery, where you can take gin-making classes in a bush setting.

sequoia mount lofty house

And then there are the suites themselves – comfortable enough to while away an entire stay. Designed with local furniture, they pull in their surroundings with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, set against sunken lounge rooms that let in loads of natural light.

By night, a gorgeous Basket Range stone-clad gas fireplace will give the otherwise fiercely contemporary design a touch of old-world glam.

“The whole place is set to unveil itself like a theatre the minute you walk in,” says Max, referring to the suite’s cutting-edge technology. “You enter the room and it comes to life. I love the drama of it all. The fireplace automatically turns on. The television opposite a lush king-size bed pops up.

“You’re ready to go.”

(All images: Sequoia at Mount Lofty House / supplied)

Published 20 February, 2020