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Saturday 13 May 2017

Is this the hippest new vineyard hotel in Australia?

The Mornington Peninsula is one of Australia's most vibrant wine regions; always innovative, constantly changing.

The newest regional attraction is Jackalope, a hotel, wining and dining complex that is part of the completely revamped Willow Creek operation, along with access to the winery and magnificent vineyard views.

Jackalope, named after a mythical creature, is the personal project of 29-year-old Chinese-born entrepreneur Louis Li, who sees the design as his own creative story; a mixture of art and storytelling featuring stand-alone artworks and a dark, moody vibe. Li describes Jackalope as “an escape from reality”.

Jackalope's 46 rooms and suites offer either vineyard or terrace views and range from 38 square metres to 85 sq m. “lairs”. Floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces connect guests to the rural surrounds while, inside, bathroom features include deep-soak, black Japanese tubs, rain showers and double vanities.

The spa-like setting is complete with bath luxuries including a pinot grape skin and seed bath soak and body scrub, made using grapes from the hotel’s vineyard.

Jackalope is a dining destination in its own right with fine dining Doot Doot Doot offering degustation menus under the guidance of executive Guy Stanaway, while Rare Hare celebrates the surrounding Willow Creek vineyard through casual dining and wine experiences.

A four-course degustation dinner costs $85 or $150 with wine matchings (think dishes like John Dory with leek, vermouth, prawn and finger lime, or lamb sweetbread with abalone and shiitake). The Japanese-style crab omelette for breakfast, meanwhile, was the finest single dish I have enjoyed this year.

There is an on-site 1,200-bottle, glass cellar (above) that showcases an international selection of limited-release wines produced from vineyards 11-hectares or less – the size of the hotel’s vineyard.

The hotel’s funky bar, Flaggerdoot, specialises in cocktails and is dotted with art installations, while outside, a black 30-metre infinity pool laps up to the surrounding vineyard, while a poolside pavilion offers sun lounge service and is also available for massage treatments or private dining.

A seven-metre-tall namesake Jackalope sculpted by Melbourne artist, Emily Floyd, has taken tenancy at the entrance to the hotel.

It just doesn't get any hipper.

Jackalope: A cutting edge luxury hotel with funky rooms and two on-site restaurants adjacent to the Willow Creek vineyards and winery. 166 Balnarring Rd, Merricks North. (03) 5931 2500.

# The writer stayed at Jackalope as a guest of Ocean Eight and Polpero Wines

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