Arriving at the stunning boutique hotel on Balfour Street (of course), we were warmly greeted with bubbles and beer in the front garden where we mingled and discovered exactly why everyone is so excited about the latest offering. James Pearce, the General Manager of Spicers Canopy (one of the sites that makes up part of the Trail) is heading up the walk and excitedly shared the news that it has just been accepted by Great Walks of Australia. We also crossed paths again with the wonderful Sam, the previous General Manager of Spicers Clovelly Estate who has now made the move to oversee Spicers Balfour in Brisbane. (Once you read my Mimi & Mama Montville Weekend you’ll understand why we adore the Spicers brand and Sam certainly played an integral role!).
Image: Spicers Retreats
After drinks and delicious canapés of Pork Rillettes (incredibly creamy and smooth pate with tomato chutney and crisp apple on crunchy crostini as well as juicy Coconut Prawns with a tangy lemon mayo/aioli, we were officially welcomed and listened to an inspiring speech from Spicers Retreats owner Jude Turner, whose passion and drive for the brand and the service experience they provide was abundantly clear. An incredible businesswoman who knows luxury, she clearly fosters a great work culture with her colleagues and employees who share her enthusiasm and love for the brand. Many seem to stay working for the group for years or when they do decide on career progression they stay within the Spicers family, taking on new responsibilities at another property.
Luke Neale, Group Operations Manger of Spicers Retreats, Hotels and Lodges then took us through the specifics of the trail, which is the only trail of its kind to be on 80% privately owned land, 70% of which is dedicated nature reserve that Spicers are committed to preserving and cultivating.
The Scenic Rim Trail by Spicers is a full package including transfers, accommodation and of course marvellous food and wine. The 4 day, 3 night trail begins and ends at Spicers Balfour where the transfers depart on route to Cunninghams Gap (part of the great dividing range) in the North West of the Scenic Rim up to Mount Mitchell. From here you can take in stunning 360 views of the natural surrounds and on a clear day see all the way back to Brisbane. This is followed by an 8km creek walk to Spicers Peak Station in private rainforest property, where the first night is spent after enjoying a gourmet dinner and matched wines.
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Day 2 is a half day trek to Spicers Canopy – a “luxury ecosite” (aka the ULTIMATE in glamping) through creek-bed and farm land where there is down time for relaxation or the opportunity to partake in activities such as gourmet pizza making or wine and cheese tasting. Day 3 is probably the most vigorous day of walking with a 10km ascent through scrub, wetland, pine forest and rocky landscape up to the pinnacle of luxury and the Spicers flagship, Spicers Peak Lodge, where a 7-course gourmet degustation dinner awaits…
Image: Spicers Retreats
And finally day 4 includes an optional walk to the lookout at Spicers Peak or the chance to indulge in some pampering and spa treatments at their purpose built mountain top day spa, Spa Anise.
Image: Spicers Retreats
After a video presentation that left everyone well and truly champing at the bit to experience the Trail, lunch was then served! And of course exquisite Spicers quality, flavour and produce was on display. Fortunately for me Mama had come as my guest (considering that she loves Spicers as much as I do), which meant I could enjoy trying everything.
An alternate drop of Potato Gnocchi, tomatoes, purple and green basil and parmesan shards and Seared scallops, sweet potato puree, chilli jam, petit Asian salad for entrée, both were paired with a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Ballandean Estate in Queensland.
The Gnocchi was the perfect density – slightly al dente with a bit of chew but so incredibly creamy – and complimented the bursts of sweet oven roasted tomato and pungent flavours of basil, whilst the parmesan crisp was a tangy, crunchy surprise.
But the Scallops were simply to die for, just melting away in the mouth. That quintessentially buttery flavour tantalised the taste buds and intermingled perfectly with the sweet and sour Asian salad.
And for main, Pan seared chicken breast, corn, tomato and coriander salsa and crushed avocado and Truffled eye fillet, baby potatoes, leek, porcini cream were served with a Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir from Tamar Valley in Tasmania.
The chicken was moist and flavoursome in light seasoning served with the freshest salsa salad of juicy cherry tomato, sweet crunchy corn kernels and fragrant coriander. But it was the beef that stole my stomach! Perfectly pink on the inside and topped with that divine rich porcini cream sauce, each bite was heavenly. Mixed with the sweetness from caramelised leeks and starch from the thinly sliced potatoes to mop up the juices it was superb.
The lunch certainly wet the appetite for the food experiences promised on the Trail – with the highest quality local produce prepared and served to fine dining standard and matched with an extensive list of only the best wines (some of which are from the region).
Spicers Retreats are, in my book, amongst the ultimate in Australian luxury accommodation, where each property provides a unique and individual experience (Spicers Tamarind and their cooking school was next on our Mimi & Mama hit list and a Spicers Balfour high tea is most definitely on our radar). Now, I absolutely cannot wait to experience the Scenic Rim Trail. As an avid gym goer and exercise fanatic it mixes two of my favourite things – being outdoors/fitness with indulgence and luxury.
Thank you so much again for having us Spicers, to say I’m looking forward to my next stay is an understatement!
Which Spicers property is your favourite?