Gwen O’Toole is an accomplished writer focusing on travel, food, wine and events management. Follow her on Instagram @Gwennieo
Published May 29th 2016
An indulgent weekend (not so far) away
It's a typical top of mind destination for families with children or wildlife lovers with the Open Range Zoo, so you'd be forgiven to think that Werribee Park is more of a family destination. But when you're in need of a weekend getaway that's not too far from the city and feels like a world away, it could an ideal option.
The Mansion Hotel and Spa at Werribee will have you feeling like you're a world away. Image:Lancemore Group
Just 30 minutes from the city and frequently host to many special events such as the recent So Frenchy So Chic and the cheese lover's dream festival Fromage A Trois, the romantic setting and garden surrounds will have you leaving your worries back in the CBD while you enjoy a weekend staycation.
Check-in on a Friday evening at the Mansion Hotel and Spa at Werribee Park and simply enjoy the surrounds. The former seminary, now luxury hotel is set on 10 acres of manicured gardens that, even if you're not really a garden person, you still have to admire. The rooms are plush, spacious and oh-so-relaxing. Settle in and enjoy dinner at Joseph's Restaurant and Bar, located within the Mansion. Joseph's doesn't feel like your run-of-the-mill hotel restaurant, it's an intimate setting with a fine dining offering that's not at all pretentions. The menu won't overwhelm you with too many choices, but instead offers up some solid favourites with a focus on local produce. There's also a pretty elaborate drinks menu with more than 200 wines, boutique beers and cocktail to help you unwind for the weekend.
In the morning, enjoy the grounds, go for a wander around the surrounding homestead and soak up a bit of the local history by investigating the Mansion museum. There's even a sculpture walk on the grounds.
In the afternoon, re-discover the Werribee Open Range Zoo in a grown up way with one of their experiential packages. The Zoo, in partnership with Shadowfax Wines (also located at Werribee Park) have created a perfect day out with the 'Shadowfax and the Savannah package'. Your adventure starts with an off road safari that offers a bit more than what's available to typical guests.
Enjoy a guided tour of the Savannah at Werribee Open Range Zoo. Image: Zoos Victoria
With an expert guide an a special open vehicle that accommodates no more than 14, you'll get a far more up close and personal experience travelling across the open plains. Bring a camera to snap pics of giraffes, zebras, rhinos and more. Following your wild encounter, you'll be transported just a short distance to the nearby Shadowfax winery for a two course lunch with a glass of wine and plenty of time to spend the remainder of your afternoon wine tasting.
Pair your zoo experience up with a Shadowfax and the Savannah package and enjoy a delicious two course lunch following your exclusive zoo tour. Image: Shadowfax Winery
On Sunday, prepare yourself for the week ahead by booking in at the on-site spa which offers a huge variety of treatments to both indulge and relax or reinvigorate yourself. Additionally, the indoor 17 metre pool offers you a bit of downtime by the pool no matter what the Melbourne weather offers. Following your treatment, relax with a glass of champagne or spend your Sunday experiencing the Mansion High SocieTea, a high tea experience taking place every Sunday from 3-5pm.
Finish off your weekend with a spa treatment or a relax by the indoor pool at Mansion Hotel and Spa. Image:Mansion Hotel and Spa Werribee
Before you say farewell to the Mansion and venture back to reality, you can sit back and relax in the Mansion's cosy Library with an open fireplace and indulgent sweets, savouries, sparkling wine and of course a selection of teas from T2.
Ideal for any weekend, you'll return to the city feeling refreshed and relaxed.