Rick and Stephanie Woodman always had a dream to build a business of their own that they could share with others. Together they had a dream of finding a rural location with enough room to satisfy Rick’s love for horses and space to raise a family. Almost twenty years ago their quest for a tree-change opportunity led them in an extensive search across New South Wales and Victoria, before they discovered a handsome manor house in Moorooduc on the Mornington Peninsula. “The property ticked a lot of boxes for us and we felt it could become something very special”, says Rick. “The Mornington Peninsula region had it all; it is a beautiful environment and feels a world away, but is very close to all the services, and has great proximity to Melbourne”.
It was already almost perfect; a 50 acre rural property of fertile orchard land with a picturesque five acre lake, a manor house that had been built in 1988, and plenty of potential. Rick and Stephanie along with their three week old son moved in and within a couple of days had met some of the locals, in the form of the CFA when their chimney caught fire. This incident gave them the chance to immediately carry out some stylish and elegant renovations and turn the manor house into a small luxury country house. Soon after, they opened the doors as “Woodman Estate” an exclusive retreat with four luxuriously appointed rooms. Since then they haven’t looked back. A few years later they opened a further three lakeside chalets, then in 2003 opened the restaurant and wellness retreat, and in 2007 opened the lakeside terrace. Now the property boasts a balanced five acres of dwellings including accommodation, wellness retreat and restaurant, ten acres of bushland and thirty acres of paddocks and pasture.
There is a philosophy here of ‘doing small, well’. Rick and Stephanie both know what their guests like and are always aiming to be the best in what they offer. “We wanted to build on the natural beauty of the property and create a sense of escape”, says Rick. “It’s about being small enough to offer tailored service, but big enough to offer a full service”. They have created something that is perfect for sharing - a special retreat for the everyday. With everything on the one site you can leave your keys at the front door and know that your hosts will take care of you. The property is subtle in its demeanour. The sense of lakeside luxury is evident but not brash. It’s five-star attention to detail and attentive service, but also professional and caring. It’s about classic traditions, with a little Woodman modern twist.
It’s not just for special occasions though. A lot of the guests here have been before – they keep coming back. Groups of girls grabbing a weekend away love the wellness centre spa options, small business meetings and executive retreats fit perfectly, and couples looking for time to relax and recharge are warmly welcomed. Time poor? No worries. “I have become an expert at solving forgotten birthdays and anniversaries,” laughs Rick. “Usually it’s the Thursday night before the event, and they are in a panic about what to do. We are able to tailor a package for them and deliver a voucher worthy of their affection.” Its all part of the service.
Staying here makes you feel special. The three spacious lakeside chalets are fully serviced (not self-contained) with fruit, chocolates and a turn-down service. You can dine in the restaurant or get restaurant quality room service, and you have your own private deck overlooking the lake. “Our guests love how peaceful it is,” says Rick. “The sun setting over the lake is magical. There are so many birds and frogs all singing together. You really experience a lovely connection to nature when you visit.”
Most of the suites in the Manor House and Wellness Centre also offer great views overlooking the lake and all of them offer attention to detail giving you the chance to really recharge and rejuvenate. Rick likes the way there are options for guests that want to simply stay on site and enjoy the wellness treatments, play a little tennis, or go for a stroll, as well as those that wish to get out and explore the region’s nearby wineries and attractions.
The estate has become well known for its High Teas. Think; delicate finger sandwiches, sweet and savoury pastries, luscious slices and the obligatory scones warm from the oven with jam and cream. “Everything is estate made for the high teas,” says Rick. “We have a diverse and talented team in the kitchen that infuse the fare with their own magic.” It is understandable that the restaurant won the highest accolade in the 2017 local Best Bite awards; Restaurant of the Year.
Dining in the Estate Restaurant is along the lines of more classic traditions with professional tailored service and attention to detail. The tall windows of the stylish formal dining room overlook the lake, and with floor length curtains and cozy chairs ten to forty people can be seated comfortably. It’s easy to chat – the acoustics are marvellous, and the estate made cuisine offers a choice of a la carte or formal degustation dining. A crowd favourite is the Farmer's Produce Lunch that offers grazing of a modern day 'ploughman's style' platter.
Further on, the Brasserie restaurant area opens onto picturesque lakeside patio, and the Atrium offers a gourmet breakfast (continental or cooked to order) that make people come back again, and again with their friends. The attention to detail includes creating their own range of preserves under the Woodman Estate Fine Foods label; all of which are featured throughout the menu.
Over a little bridge and behind a screen of trees lies another hidden gem - the Wellness Retreat. It feels a world away but is where individuals and couples can book in for something special. This is a passion project for Stephanie as she is a qualified doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and loves nothing better than helping people be healthier and happier. “Rather than a regular day spa, we wanted to create a relaxation retreat that gave a feeling of peacefulness and warmth,” says Stephanie. “This is a lakeside sanctuary for physical and emotional relaxation where you leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.” The interior is Hamptons-style, and the offerings include massages, facials and mud wraps as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments. It certainly is something to look forward to.
This may be a well-kept secret, but it is certainly not a quaint, old fashioned place. “We are proud of our reputation for quality service and making things special,” says Rick. “We love that people don’t need to have a special occasion to visit, everyone is welcome”. You don't have to stay to enjoy the estate made fare, or to pamper yourself with an on-site wellness treatment. And being under ten minutes drive from Mornington it is easy to take a little time out and enjoy the offerings before re-joining the real world. Of course, you can also stay if you want to and take advantage of the elegant fully serviced lakeside chalets, spa or manor house suites. There is a lot more here than meets the eye.
Find Woodman Estate:
136 Graydens Road Moorooduc Victoria 3933. Phone: 03 5978 8455
Woodman Estate Restaurant: MORE>>
Woodman Estate Wellness Retreat: MORE>>
Woodman Estate Accommodation: MORE>>
The Mornington Peninsula is a place unmatched in its beauty, diversity of experiences and quality of produce. Here you can discover hand picked, hand made local heroes.
Sometimes you need the local knowledge to find them so “I AM Mornington Peninsula” shares with you the stories of 10 local heroes. Come and meet the talented makers, creators and innovators of our region. The welcome is personal and there is so much heritage and passion. They work hard to make their dreams come true, and they want to share it with the world. “I AM Mornington Peninsula” means that you can find your way to meet them for yourselves.
Read more at www.iamMP.com.au