Cape Lodge gives drive throughs the five-star treatment


Margaret River’s iconic property now offers guests car check-in as part of new COVID safety precautions.

Zoom parties, virtual wine tastings and fine dining home delivery are just a few of the trends emerging as people try to stay safe right now. But it was drive-through weddings that were the inspiration for the new guest check-in experience at Margaret River’s most iconic property.

When General Manager Drew Bernhardt began reviewing the state’s COVID safety procedures, his top priority was ensuring the hotel was able to balance social distancing with the comfort and attention to detail his property is famous for. That starts with a warm welcome; “People come to us for sanctuary, for pampering, for connection. The art of a warm reception sets the tone of the guest stay, so we had to make sure we weren’t losing that,” says Bernhardt.

Now, guests make their way down the grand driveway, pulling up in front of the undercover porte cochère, where they are greeted by Bernhardt and his team. They are directed to their rooms on the sprawling 40-acre property, where the key is already in the door, and then encouraged to enjoy a drink at the bar once they’ve made themselves at home. It’s about a seamless, stress-free arrival, where you step straight from the car to your room.

One of the Luxury Lodges of Australia, Cape Lodge has its own working vineyard, and the team has tapped into its vast grounds to ensure they’re keeping the experience top-notch for guests. Nightly wine tasting in the lounge area has been replaced with small group tastings among the vineyards, with one of the resident wine experts leading guests for a walk through the vines. It’s something Bernhardt wishes he’d done sooner, as guests are loving the new format, along with other small tweaks to the experience.

“We relocated daily tea time from the main lodge to the restaurant lounge, with staff serving serve homemade cake every day from 3 to 5pm rather than a former ‘help yourself’ set up’. There are no more buffet experiences at all on site now,” he says.

The lodge has long been known for its food and wine experiences; culinary events including on-site truffle hunts and lunches are back on the agenda, along with a Master Class series inviting guests into the kitchen. Keep an eye out for new events highlighting local producers – olive oil tastings, cheese making, a limoncello class and more.

Read: The ‘new normal’ is in full swing in Western Australia’s Margaret River region