Only five minutes after checking into my villa at Smiths Beach Resort, my cellphone pings with a text.
“Look out the back window / second floor / five kangaroos over the fence.”
It’s one of my traveling companions — in a similar ocean-view villa next door. I fumble with the lock on the sliding glass, pull back the curtain, and walk outside. Bam. There they are. Five kangaroos munching on grass, cute as can be.
Spotting kangaroos is just one of the perks at the 60-room resort in Western Australia’s Margaret River wine region, tucked into Yallingup and within a national park.
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If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to waffle between nature hikes and wine tastings, this is pretty much your utopia. Nearby Smiths Beach literally hugs the Indian Ocean.
In fact, a quick, brisk five-minute walk out of the hotel’s reception area leads to Smiths Point, along the 160-mile Cape to Cape Trek, between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.
Within a 20-minute car ride are winery tasting rooms (referred to as “cellar doors”), including Vasse Felix. Established in 1967, this winery is considered the founder of the region and includes a restaurant serving lunch plus a contemporary-art gallery at its cellar door.
The resort opened in 2007 and attracts guests mainly from Perth — Australia’s fourth-largest city 160 miles north — and Singapore in pursuit of laid-back beachside living. For this reason, accommodations are spacious and capitalize on the water view.
Fresh off an interior-design makeover that drew its inspiration from the ocean, there are 11 room categories; apartments, beach houses, and villas. You will not find a standard-sized hotel room like a city hotel here.
Furnishings and lighting are from brands that include Fritz Hansen, a Danish company with Hans J. Wegner and Arne Jacobsen; and the Barcelona-based sofa designer Joquer. In the two-story, ocean-view villas, concrete floors and an all-white contemporary-designed kitchen are joined by a soaking tub in the bathroom (thoughtfully paired with ginger-and-lily-scented bath salts) as well as a wall of windows where you can enjoy the stunning sunset.
These units, along with others on the property, come with a washer-dryer for added comfort and a homely feeling. They also have chic electric fireplaces in the living room and there are two dining tables — one on the terrace and one indoors — that sit six. There’s even a grill perfect for plating up the fresh catch of the day.
If cooking is not in the cards, Lamont’s — the hotel’s restaurant, run by chef and cookbook author Kate Lamont — can prepare a picnic hamper perfect for taking to nearby beaches, parks, or cellar doors. Lamont’s is open for daily breakfast (I highly recommend the buttermilk pancakes with lime butter and maple syrup) and dinner, plus lunch on the weekends.
The menu has a conscious effort to source locally, from the Shark Bay whiting to Exmouth tiger prawns. My dinner entrée one night of fresh fish of the day (snapper) served with roasted kipflers (an exquisite potato variety), tomatoes braised with saffron, and fried parsley was exquisite.
In the attached store is a coffee and espresso bar for flat whites and snacks to-go, such as mini pints of Simmo’s Ice Creamery (made nearby, with one flavor folding in local honey) and the aforementioned chocolate bars. You can also stock up the fridge and freezer back at the villa as there are fresh pizzas, cheese, wine, dips and spreads, and other groceries.
For wellness, there’s plenty of space in all accommodations to roll out a yoga mat and move into downward dog, and the infinity-edge pool is also alluring, but another option for guests is to book a massage. In lieu of a spa, the masseuse comes to you, providing the treatment either in the room or on the private terrace.
Partnering with local businesses is a huge focus at Smiths Beach Resort, which I quickly learned while checking in at reception. A line of cashmere and modal scarves, totes, and drink coasters featuring a Dunsborough photographer’s aerial shots of nearby beaches and are for sale. Western Australian photographer, Christian Fletcher’s framed work was also hung in my kitchen, greeting me each morning as I sipped coffee and plotted out my day.
Another linkage to the local community is the Gabriel’s Chocolate dark-chocolate bar designed just for the hotel. The chocolate was thoughtfully placed in the villa as a welcome, along with ground Margaret River Roasting Company coffee beans.