Woodman Estate

Woodman Estate:

136 Graydons Road, Moorooduc VIC
(03) 5978 8455 or www.woodmanestate.com

Woodman Estate, nestled in 50 acres on the Mornington Peninsula, is just over an hour from Melbourne, but it could be mistaken for a slice of English countryside. A sense of timelessness surrounds the Manor House (built in the 1980s but easily mistaken for the real thing), the wild gardens (once English and now a drought-tolerant mix of natives and hardy perennials), the tranquil lake and the pastoral surrounds, complete with a herd of cows. Run by Rick and Stephanie Woodman for the last 10 years, Woodman Estate caters for a variety of leisure and relaxation needs, including a day spa/lodge that has been providing the full range of spa treatments since 2003. Most importantly, Woodman strikes that rare balance between luxury and the intimacy of a small guesthouse or boutique hotel. As Rick puts it, “Our aim is to be luxurious and elegant and reflect the style of the place, but not so clinical that I’d be greeting guests in a bow tie or something… it’s a tailored approach; we’re going to fit in around our guests’ needs.” As we sat on the paved deck overlooking the lake, with the afternoon sun glinting off the water, Rick talked about the history of the property. “The property was formerly an apple and pear orchard but the children of the family who owned it didn’t want to go on with it, so, in the mid-80s, they sold the fifty acres. An English couple, who had just moved out here with their teenage kids, bought it and proceeded to build this home, because everybody would build a 75sqm Manor House and lake! Fast-forward to the late 90s and their kids had grown up — and my wife and I, we’d been working in the corporate world for years, decided to take it on … We really just jumped off the cliff so to speak.” With a 3-month old baby, Rick and Stephanie moved in to the Manor House, and over the last ten years and two more children they have worked steadily to turn an English fantasy of Manor House life into the relaxed, peaceful and multi-faceted destination that it is today. They initially added the Lakeside Chalets, which offer luxurious and discrete accommodation for couples, with private decks that stretch over the lake, a gas log fire, four-poster beds and a marble ensuite with a spa. In 2003 they added the spa retreat and lodge, where I was lucky enough to receive a massage tailored to my relaxation needs (which, given my car died on the way to Woodman, were fairly extreme…). There is now a range of dining areas — formal dining room, al fresco on the terrace, or the à la carte brasserie — with the menu headed up by master chef David Sarfaty, growing the Manor House’s reputation as a dining destination. The wine list is similarly impressive, featuring excellent local wines and knowledgeable staff; the kind of service that Rick focuses on as the key to providing a quality experience within a boutique environment. When I asked him about his future plans for the Estate he said, “Where to now? It’s about attracting quality people; we need people who can do everything, who can multi-task across the various things we offer here…” There is something quite organic about Woodman Estate, in the sense that it seems to have sprung from its surrounds rather than having been imposed upon them. This reflects Rick and Stephanie’s aim to cater for guests wanting an escape from the ordinary, without the often-overwhelming grandeur of resort-style accommodation. Rick Woodman: We don’t call ourselves a resort because it has that connotation of a big golf course and the like. So what are we? In our overseas marketing we call ourselves a ‘luxury country hotel’, because Americans in particular have a concept of that. But on a domestic level we’re calling ourselves a ‘country guesthouse’, which reflects the fact that we are small, and we provide that tailored guesthouse experience. venue: Do you have any plans for expansion? RW: Well, we live in interesting times at the moment. We’ll just keep plugging away at increasing our occupancy and just doing things genuinely well. Sometimes it pays to have a neutral gear!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *