Pullman Bunker Bay Resort Review, Margaret River Region
Every year my wife and I make a pilgrimage to the Margaret River Region in Western Australia. We love the Margaret River, as not only is it a beautiful part of the World, perfect for a relaxing getaway, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to re-stock our wine cellar. This year we chose to stay at the Pullman Bunker Bay Resort. The Pullman is located right on Bunker Bay Beach, next to the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park in the north of the Margaret River Region. The Resort is very peaceful; only a 10-minute drive from Dunsborough, and situated in extensive grounds with the only neighbours being a smattering of beach houses. You fall asleep to the sound of the surf.
We drove down from Perth, and with the new Forrest Highway extension, it took us a little over two and a half hours. Now that Bunbury has been by-passed, you do not get to see anything of the town. However, the drive through Busselton was charming; it has a real seaside holiday town feel. Once again I failed to stop and explore the Busselton jetty (it's famous). Perhaps one of these days. The drive to the resort from Dunsborough along Cape Naturalist Road is picturesque; you very quickly feel as if you are in the countryside with the rolling fields and hedgerows.
Having left the car outside the main entrance, we went inside to check-in. We were warmly greeted by the assistant manager, who gave us the very welcome news that we had been upgraded to one of their Lakeside Villas. I am almost sure that this upgrade had something to do with my new Accor Plus membership, as we were also welcomed to the Club at the same time and reminded to show our card whenever we purchased food.
Accor Plus Membership
Accor Plus is a membership program that is a step up from your usual Hotel loyalty program. Unlike regular loyalty programs which are free to join, you pay to join Accor Plus to access its benefits. Accor Plus membership is usually $395AUD a year but I, fortunately, did not have to pay this, as it is one of the new benefits associated with my American Express Card.
The Accor Plus Membership comes with a host of features, but the ones that go a long way to justifying the membership fee are the complimentary nights stay, the discounted room rates and the 50% discount on meals. If you can take advantage of these three benefits during your stay, then it ensures your visit will be phenomenally good value for money. I have written a review of the Accor Plus program and you can read it here.
I planned to put my new membership to good use, as having dined previously at their restaurant, the Other Side of the Moon, I knew it to be excellent, and as such felt comfortable booking a table for both nights. Thus I knew that I was already going to be able to take full advantage of the 50% discount on meals.
Once we had our room keys, we were helped by one of the friendly porters to transfer our luggage from the car into one of the resort carts for the short trip to our villa. With the bags taken care of, I jumped back in the car and followed the porter to the carpark. The car park is next to the tennis courts, and there is ample room for parking. At check-in, we had been invited to use the tennis courts and were offered the loan of equipment if we had not brought any ourselves. Tennis was not on the cards for this weekend, but it was nice to know that it was an option for future visits. The other recreational facility housed at the main building is the stunning swimming pool, heated to 26 degrees year round.
It was only a short ride down the hill to the Villa. However, our porter offered to come and fetch us anytime, to take us up to the main building if our legs were too tired to make the ascent. The layout of the resort is well thought out with established gardens, and the accommodation is well screened to provide privacy.
The Lakeside Villa
Our Villa was set right on the edge of the clear waters of the lake. The Villa was one bedroom with a dining area, kitchenette, lounge and huge ensuite bathroom with spa bath. The view out over the lake was charming, framed by mature gum trees and reeds. The waters teem with birdlife and fish.
The Villa was generously sized—definitely large enough to comfortably accommodate a small family. There were a couple of connecting doors on either side of the main living area which opened up onto extra bedrooms, allowing for more guests if necessary.
As it was only my wife and myself this weekend, we just luxuriated in all the space. The kitchenette was very well set up: there was a decent sized fridge/freezer, oven, cooktop and dishwasher, as well as all the glassware and crockery we could need. The generous L-shaped lounge was large enough for both of us to lie out on, whether we were reading a book or watching something on the TV. The entertainment centre also included a DVD player and stereo, so there was no shortage of diversions.
The Villa has been very well designed, so that while you do not feel overlooked you also do not feel enclosed. This effect is achieved through the intelligent use of outdoor screening and established plants.
The bedroom, like the rest of the Villa, was a generous size; plenty of room around the bed and the high ceiling both added to the sense of space. There was a large inbuilt desk that acted as both a stand for the bedroom TV as well as a workspace.
The King size bed was comfortable, and there was a good selection of pillows and extra blankets in case the nights got cold. That being said, the Villa's ducted reverse cycle airconditioning meant that we could set the temperature to whatever we were comfortable with. There was ample cupboard space, with two full-length robes that also housed the safe, ironing board and iron.
The Villa has two verandas that extend out over the lake, one in the main living area and the other in the bedroom, perfect for enjoying a cold drink and taking in the local wildlife.
The bathroom was positively huge; there was only one sink, but the vanity area around it was so expansive that there was no issue with spreading out our toiletries. Usually mine get relegated to a draw if I am lucky.
The Spa Bath is an excellent size, it comfortably accommodates two, and the spa function works well. The bath must be fed by a decently sized water heater, as at no time did the hot water ever run out. There is also a generously sized shower with rain head shower.
The Lakeside Villa was a wonderfully relaxing retreat, containing all the creature comforts you could want, and more than large enough to spread out.
The turquoise blue waters of Bunker Bay Beach are easily accessible along a picturesque private path. The path crosses the Resort's lake to enter a tree-lined grove that emerges onto the dunes. As you step up onto the boardwalk, you are greeted with panoramic views out over an expanse of white sand and rolling breakers.
A walk along Bunker Bay Beach is a terrific way to start the day and blow away the cobwebs; we made a point of going for a post-breakfast stroll every morning. The beach was wonderfully quiet; we practically had it all to ourselves apart from the occasional surfer or fisherman.
While the Resort offers a full breakfast service, my parents, who had previously stayed at the Resort, highly recommended Bunkers Beach House. Not being ones to ignore good advice, we went in search of this beachfront restaurant on our first morning and could not be more grateful that we did.
Bunkers Beach House enjoys the enviable position of being set right on the beach. After having been shown to one of the outside tables on the verandah, we drunk in the idyllic early morning views while sipping on some exquisitely good coffee. The food was excellent, so much so that we dined at Bunkers every morning, and I will definitely be heading back the next time I am in Margaret River. Bunkers really make a point of championing the local country produce, and it really shines through in the flavours and freshness of food—my personal favourite being the Fried Eggs with Farm House Black pudding.
After a delicious breakfast and refreshing walk, we were ready to head out into the Margaret River to do some exploring and start stocking up on some of the region's wonderful food and wine. To showcase some of the wonderful experiences on offer, I have written a guide to the Top 10 Things to do in Margaret River, which will hopefully give you some ideas.
The Other Side of the Moon
Apart from knowing that The Other Side of the Moon was an excellent restaurant from previous visits, my main reason for choosing to book the Restaurant two nights in a row was that it made for a very relaxed afternoon and an end to the evening. What I mean by this is that its proximity to our accommodation meant that at no stage would I have to get in the car to drive. The main road that connects Margaret River is Caves Road; it is long, winding, tree-lined and bordered by red pebbles. Now while this makes for a stunningly beautiful drive in the day time, at night time, since it is unlit, it requires a significant amount of attention. Because of this, I did not want to choose a restaurant which I would need to drive to and then have to carefully count drinks to make sure that I was being the responsible designated driver.
Since all we needed to do was walk up the hill to the restaurant at dinner time, it meant that we were able to spend a delightful afternoon sipping on some of the region's wonderful Chardonnay, soaking up the sunshine and listening to the waves. On arrival, we were warmly greeted and shown to a charming table in front of the open fireplace.
Our wait staff were absolutely delightful: they helped us pick an excellent bottle of Picardy Shiraz from Pemberton to go with our meal, and they were a wealth of information of which vineyards and chocolatiers we should visit while in the region.
During our stay I was feeding my inner carnivore; the first night I went with the Margaret River Wagyu rump served medium rare with scorched Brussels sprouts, and on the second I went with the Margaret River Farm Lamb laid out on a bed of mashed peas and greens. The beef and lamb both came from The Farm House, a local supplier, and were extremely flavoursome—they both contained just enough fat to be succulent but not overly chewy.
When I originally made the booking, I had mentioned that it was my wife's birthday, and true to form the restaurant very kindly presented us with a birthday cake for two and candles. If you are looking for an excellent dinner in Margaret River, whether you are staying at the Pullman or not, then The Other Side of the Moon is certainly worth a visit.
The Day Spa
As I have previously mentioned, the principal reason for our visit was to celebrate my wife's birthday. That being the case, a visit to the Pullman Resort would not have been complete without a visit to the Vie Day Spa. Being unusually organised, I had jumped on the Vie Spa website a few weeks before to see what treatments were available, as I wanted to book one in advance as a surprise. It was a good thing that I did, as according to the website bookings are by appointment only, and walk-ins may not be possible. After running through all the different options, I finally decided on their Heaven on Earth treatment, as the name alone sounded pretty relaxing. The 120 min treatment included a full body exfoliation, full body massage, organic facial and soothing foot treatment for $290, which seemed pretty good value. The appointed time arrived, and we headed up to the Spa, which is located in a separate building.
Whether you are going for a treatment or not, the Vie Spa has a great selection of different boutique products to explore. There are scents, oils, candles, soaps and even organic mosquito repellant.
Having left my wife in the capable hands of the Spa attendant, I took my self off to catch up on some emails before my inbox expanded to unpleasant proportions. A couple of hours later and I was rejoined by a glowing and relaxed wife who was extremely pleased with her treatment, which means the Vie Spa gets my tick of approval.
We enjoyed a wonderful weekend at the Pullman Bunker Bay. The staff were extremely kind and professional, which always makes a visit enjoyable. The resort itself was immaculately presented, and the food and drink were on par with any I would expect from a fine restaurant. The Pullmans' location is perfect as it is far enough out of town so that you feel a million miles away from civilisation, but it is still within easy driving distance of all the regional attractions. The stunning bushland views and access to the beach are its major draw cards, and its facilities are just what you would expect from a 5-star resort: the heated virtual horizon pool, tennis courts, fitness centre and day spa.
What I like most about the Pullman in Bunker Bay is that, if you so choose, it can be a totally self-contained holiday experience in its own right, perfect for young families. Otherwise, it makes for an excellent base to operate from when striking out into the region. I hope you enjoyed my review and find it useful; there is a comments section below where you are very welcome to ask me any questions.
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