July 14, 2020
In 2008, the Vineyards Estate was purchased by experienced hotel managers and restauranteurs Mark and Belinda Stapleton. Built a decade earlier in 1998, it was being run as a country guesthouse with eight good sized rooms, a restaurant, and a working vineyard producing mostly Chardonnay, and some Merlot, Cabernet and Shiraz – all of this making it a compelling proposition.
The Stapletons flagged the opportunity with Spicers Retreats Founder, Jude Turner, and her husband Graham (also known as “Skroo”) who were keen to become co-owners in a joint venture, expanding the Spicers property portfolio into the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. The Turners had become good friends with Belinda and Mark when the Stapletons were employed as the first managers of Spicers Peak Lodge. They only spent a year there, setting everything up after it opened in 2004, but they did an excellent job and left a lasting impression. After managing Spicers Peak Lodge, the Stapletons relocated to Sydney to open a restaurant, and Jude and Skroo kept in contact.
Once Vineyards Estate was reopened, Mark – a talented chef – focused on breathing new life into the restaurant. His passion for homegrown produce inspired him to establish a large kitchen garden on the property. Today, led by Hunter Valley Executive Chef Cameron Matthews, Botanica has an exceptional reputation for serving up delicious modern Australian fare made from seasonal, local produce, much of which comes from the garden.
In 2012, Belinda worked closely with Jude’s sister Ros, in consultation with Jude, to design a further four suites that would extend the original building. Belinda spent time learning firsthand from guests about how they were experiencing the existing rooms. The aim was to ensure these new suites would be next level in terms of quality design and luxury. She worked with Ros to source all the fittings and fixtures, and oversaw the project with the building team. At this time, the team also added a Day Spa, an excellent back-of-house laundry, a new pool and outdoor guest pavilion, and they extended the restaurant.
In December 2016, Spicers bought the Stapleton’s shares in Vineyards Estate. There had been a Manager’s house on site and Spicers transformed it into additional accommodation. The Estate now offers 12 luxury suites and a four-bedroom house, and is highly regarded as a welcoming, boutique regional retreat.
Spicers Vineyards Estate
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