Empire Retreat, Margaret River
This is one of our favourite places to stay in Margaret River. It's luxurious and we were excited to see the renovations that took place the day we left on our last stay, but is worth the high price tag?
Well let's start with the room, this was our first time in a balcony room normally we have the luxury villa which wasn't available. The room itself was great, the new colour palette and soft furnishings were excellent, they very nailed the interior design.
The bathroom is not seperate from the room so if you are sharing this might be a concern. Personally I'm not a fan of a shower in the bath tub and the shower leaked over the bathroom floor. However the styling with white shutters on the windows which looked out to the private bush lands, made up for the shower/ bath issues.
Compliments to the cleaner who does an outstanding job. It's the cleanest room and bathroom I've seen. Loved that the wine glasses are exchanged each day, not washed in the room and the cutlery roll was exchanged, they even cleaned our cheese board we bought with us.
One of the things we loved about the refurb is that finally someone has taken notice of the fact that 2 people usually have 2 suitcases and there is enough room to lay 2 suitcase side by side to unpack and live out of for a day or so, rather than having to completely unpack. See image above.
What was missing for us was the wood fire in the room which was a highlight of the villas, however we used the farmhouse at night to play cards - but there was nobody around staff wise to keep the wood fire stoked, so we had to stoke it up before we went out for dinner and hope that there were some embers left when we got back to fire it up again.
Breakfast was always a highlight of Empire Retreat. It was a real country, high quality spread of local products and there was always a huge selection, served in a huge bright sunlit room. We rated it as one of the best breakfasts in Australian hotels, but that's changed. The breakfast is still in the huge sunlit room, but it felt basic with a small selection. It still had local products but lacked the luxuries of the previous breakfast, like croissants, pastries, and numerous cereals and fruit (the cornflakes this time were stale).
We were offered freshly cooked eggs on the first day, cooked to our liking and sides. However, the next day (a Saturday) it was a bacon and egg baguette, that had been prepared earlier, which was sitting cold on the bench which was offered to us that we could have warmed up! Really? Warmed up! There was no offering of freshly cooked hot breakfast as per the previous day - and this was on a weekend when they would have more guests to impress I would have thought.
On the upside, the coffee was great and Kirsty is a great barista. The team there were gorgeous and very friendly. The juice was not squeezed fresh and was straight out of a bottle. A selection of cold pressed juices including green or red juice would be much better than the cheap juice being currently used.
So in answer to my question is the $500+ a night room value for money - I have to say, not any more. The breakfast cost at best $10 - not acceptable considering you have 10 rooms at over $500 a night and your occupancy is pretty full - at least they were when we stayed for a Friday and Saturday.
As a side note, we were a bit disappointed as we had some vouchers that had been given to us to use for our stay and as one of them had expired, they refused to honour it. I hate this sort of treatment - if you are the same owners - you have already received the money for it and you should honour the voucher, I don't care when it expired. In their defence, they did try to recover the situation by offering a 25% discount on the room for the night we had to pay for and they did give us a bottle of wine when we checked in after I flagged the issue again - however, it just would have been better to accept the $300 voucher and be done with it. As far as I'm concerned we are regulars and it has been our preferred place to stay when in Margaret River.
a: Caves Road, Yallingup
While you're in WA, you should take a flight up north to Broome where you will experience WA's 90 Mile Beach, some of the best ocean and beaches you will ever see. Cable Beach Club is set right on the beach in Broome and well worth a visit.