October 21, 2021
Spicers Vineyards Estate, hidden among grapevines and gumtrees outside of Pokolbin, is promising to thrive under the leadership of new general manager, Martin Litke.
Now overseeing the operation and future vision of the five-star retreat and exquisite Restaurant Botanica, Litke began his stellar career in hotel and resort management nearly 20 years ago, when he already had a decade of hospitality experience.
Having risen through the management ranks of an enviable list of high-end regional venues, most recently as GM of Parklands Resort & Conference Centre among vineyards just outside Mudgee NSW, Litke has a special touch in welcoming guests to an experience in a magnificent natural environment.
“I love the feeling of being close to nature at Vineyards Estate, with the Kangaroos in the vineyard and birds that come right up to the front door of the retreat rooms,” says Litke. “The views are over our own vineyard, and it’s a magical time of the year when the buds first flower.”
The Estate has just 12 luxury suites plus a separate four-bedroom Vineyard House (with private pool), each with its own fireplace and spa facilities, set among 22 glorious acres scattered with majestic gum trees, vineyards and the Brokenback Range framing the horizon.
Litke feels that “Every Spicers retreat is in a unique, special location, and I think that’s what makes a venue really great and keeps the guests returning. Even though each retreat is very different, they also have a common denominator of indulgence, relaxation and luxury.”
“Spicers offer a feeling of remoteness from everyday life but with comforts you can’t find at home,” Litke observes, “which is important, because we never seem to have enough of our own space to ourselves.”
Spicers Vineyard Estate’s new General Manager Martin Litke has worked in senior managerial roles in 4 and 5-star hotels down the length of Australia’s east coast, including the 70-room Elite Gold Coast, where he was handpicked to assist in pre-opening the new property, and The Reef Resort by Rydges in Port Douglas in tropical far north Queensland.
Litke had four great years with QT Resorts in Port Douglas, Falls Creek and the Gold Coast, where he says the regional general manger Andrew McSweeney was instrumental in developing his skills, emphasising how vital relationships are between guests, teams and suppliers.
“There’s a quote from Richard Branson his book ‘Losing my Virginity’ that has stuck with me, says Litke,” “‘I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers and that people flourish when they are praised.’”
Originally from the Sunshine Coast, Litke worked with his dad in the family motel business as a teen, and says, “Dad showed me how to take pride in the work, how to look after a motel and how important is presentation and the special touches.”
“Never forget where you come from, enjoy every moment when you move around in your career, because home will always be where your family is,” says Litke.
After high school Litke studied hospitality business administration for five years in Switzerland at Ecole Les Roche. This professional head start led to opportunities at the Mont Cervin Hotel in Zermatt, Switzerland, the Disney Boardwalk in Florida, the Four Seasons in Sydney, and once glittering Palazzo Versace on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
From a country motel to some of Australia and the world’s leading hotels and resorts, Litke has found success following a simple path. “I always had a keen interest in understanding guests’ needs and how to ensure their stay is memorable,” he says.” “Listening to their stories gives me a sense of being part of their life and being able to enhance their visit, which is something I try to instil in my team and colleagues around me.”
Spicers Vineyards Estate is the ideal base from which to explore everything the Hunter Valley has to offer, with seasonal dishes effortlessly matched with wines from the Hunter – Australia’s oldest wine region – while the onsite Spa Anise adds to the feeling of rejuvenation and appreciation of life that comes as naturally at Spicers Vineyard Estate as enjoying the latest vintage.
Showcasing the Hunter is central to the ethos of the estate’s Restaurant Botanica. What the kitchen can’t grow for their seasonal menus, they source locally from a host of small-scale farmers or from the surrounding regions.
Restaurant Botanica head chef Chris Rhoney describes his vision for the destination venue: “At Botanica we aim to produce delicious food that our guests enjoy so much they want to eat it again and again. We want our guests to get goose bumps while eating the food – just like chefs feel when talking about the food we love.”
Spicers Vineyards Estate