Review: Balgownie Estate Resort Yarra Valley

There’s plenty of beautiful winery regions in Australia and there’s usually many on travellers wishlist to explore. The Yarra Valley has to be one of those winery destinations that you have to see. Its a short drive from Melbourne so easy for people to get to. The Yarra Valley definitely is the perfect romantic getaway location, with lots of wineries, cafes, spas, retreats and activities to do as a couple.

We recently got away to the Yarra Valley for a short romantic getaway and we decided to stay at the Balgownie Resort. It’s a place we wanted to go to many years ago but unfortunately couldn’t get away at that time. This time around we weren’t letting anything stop us from having a weekend away in the Yarra Valley!

Location

Balgownie is resort style accommodation in the northern part of the Yarra Valley. It is a short drive (less than 5 minutes) to Yarra Glen, 10 minute drive to Healesville and about 20-30 minutes from Lilydale. Many people from Melbourne come here on the weekends to go wine tasting.

It is situated on a nice hill surrounded by both its own vineyard and the vineyards of other top wineries. It has accommodation looking down the hill and out to the other wineries.

Accommodation

We booked a Priviledge Spa Suite which has a spa bath in the middle of the room looking out into the room and then out the balcony to the beautiful view. This was a really luxurious and perfect for a romantic getaway.

The bed was the two King singles placed together to make a King bed – fairly standard for hotels these days. It was very comfortable and we had a great sleep.

There was a kitchenette with every item we would need for a short stay including a kettle, toaster, microwave and bar fridge. The kitchenette also was (conveniently) stocked up on Balgownie Estate wines. We knew this would be dangerous for wine lovers like ourselves…

Even though our room was on the lower level, we still had a nice view of the location and the vineyards scattered across the hills. The balcony was the perfect size for two people and it was relaxing sipping on while watching the sun set.

Resort Facilities

As most resorts and chain hotels, this resort had a swimming pool. This was in the same area as the gym. The gym seemed like it had fairly standard equipment in an average sized area. From memory it had a treadmill, exercise bike, cross trainer, and some weights. I did not use the equipment during my stay.

The pool had a lap pool attached to it for those needing to workout, or the seated spa area under a “waterfall” for those wanting to relax. It seemed a little cramped with all the extras they had added to the area, but it was still fairly relaxing. It would have been good if the windows opened up as it echoed tremendously and reminded me a bit of a public pool as opposed to a private resort pool.

As the resort is situated on a vineyard, there is a walking track that can be taken around the resort. It takes walkers all around the resort for 1.6km. When you get to the top you get a great view of the surrounding vineyards.

A fun thing to do is to play giant chess. I had never seen a resort with something like this in it before so it was fun to play late in the afternoon. However, it gets pretty hot with the afternoon sun blaring down on you.

Every resort should have tennis courts: and Balgownie is no exception! You can hire tennis rackets and balls for free, which is always good. We didn’t play (apparently I’m not up to speed with my partners “skills”), but they looked like good courts to play on.

There’s also plenty of other fun things to keep you occupied like archery, laser clay shooting, bumper balls and segway tours. I didn’t do any of these but if I had to choose anything it would be the bumper balls – it looks like so much fun rolling around in a big plastic ball!

The first thing we tried when we arrived was the wines on offer at the cellar door. There is a great selection of wine, plus many gifts and food items to buy as well. It seemed to get quite busy around 5pm, probably as the bar next door was open for tapas and drinks at this time.

Food & Wine

When yo go to the Yarra Valley, you definitely go for food and wine (especially the wine!) so staying at a winery resort is always a great idea.

Balgownie has a great selection of wines from whites to reds, and there’s a few choices for the budget conscious or those who want to branch out and have the more expensive Estate wines. I enjoyed all the wines that I tried, and in particular the Rose wine was my favourite. However we usually stuck with the reds during our stay (my partner loves the reds!)

Funnily enough I didn’t have the breakfast while staying here (yes, that’s unlike me). We did have some tapas in the bar on our first night after our wine tasting. We decided to choose the shared tapas plate for 2. It was around $35. They made it gluten free for me by providing gluten free bread. The pork belly was absolutely delicious (even if it was one tiny bite sized piece to share between two people).

The beef and chorizo were also delicious and went well with sauce and pineapple salsa provided. I didn’t like the taste of the veggies – they had some strange sauce on it which I didn’t like. I wish there were things like olives and Mediterranean vegetables rather than the cauliflower and carrot mix. Overall I liked the platter but unsure if I would order it again.

We also ended up having room service food because it was quite busy in the restaurant on the Saturday night and we hadn’t made a booking. If you are staying on the weekend I would definitely recommend making a booking as soon as you can because it gets very busy on the weekend, especially when there are weddings on!

There was not much on the room service menu that was (a) gluten free and (b) appealing to me. It was primarily snack food and burgers. I was a bit disappointed with this and had to settle for the calamari made gluten free. It was actually an entree size so not great for dinner. I ended up having to eat snacks out of the minibar because I was so hungry! A good thing was that the service was very quick.

We made a booking in Raes Restaurant for the second night (Sunday) and it was definitely less busy. The restaurant has a nice view and we were able to watch the sunset while sipping on some delicious wine. Dinner is a set price of two or three courses. We decided on the two courses for $60.

For the first time in our relation of over 5 years, we actually chose exactly the same thing for dinner! I had trouble deciding on something gluten free that I actually wanted. So I decided on the quail for entre and the steak for main.

I quite enjoyed the quail. It campaign for e with a quail egg which was the perfect accompaniment with the flavours. It was actually a very rich dish for entree but I enjoyed it.

The steak was ok but not great. The potato rosti was not cooked completely and I would have liked more vegetables with it to balance the heaviness of the dish. My steak was definitely the better cut compared to my partners – his steak looked like it had lots of fat and looked completely different compared to my steak.Β 

Customer service

The customer service we experince is exactly what you would expect from a five star resort. Everyone was extremely lovely through our stay. We had a gentleman let us into our room when we first arrived.

The housekeeping staff were always polite and helpful when we spoke to them. The restaurant staff were friendly and happy to accommodate for my gluten intolerance by giving me a gluten free option whilst keeping the regular option for my partner. All reception staff were very nice. We called a few times about random things here and there but the staff were always helpful and gave good customer service.

 

Overall Thoughts

I absolutely loved our stay here. It’s in a great location, the service was fantastic and the room was luxurious. The only downside was the food! Whilst it was made quickly and the presentation was great, the taste wasnt anything I would rave on about. I’m usually not a picky eater but I wasn’t impressed with the food here. Good thing the wine was delicious!

I definitely think that Balgownie Estate is perfect for a romantic getaway and I would recommend it to any couple looking for a great place to stay the in the Yarra Valley.

Have you been to Balgownie Estate Resort? Where would you recommend to stay in the Yarra Valley? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie xoxo

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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