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SEQUOIA LODGE

Stay Amongst the Stunning Natural Beauty of Adelaide's Mount Lofty

March, 2024
SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

Driving up Mount Lofty to the Sequoia luxury lodging enables a brief introduction to the wondrous natural environment it is surrounded by. Large Eucalypts line the short drive up to the turn-off and private entrance to the luxury lodging. Arriving at the large iron gates adorned with the property’s logo, the hotel team buzz in guests to the exclusive stay in the Adelaide Hills.

A 170-year-old Sequoia tree is at the heart of it all. Its century-old tree ring pattern inspiring the logo for the luxury property, connecting Sequoia’s name to the giant redwood species – Sequoia sempervirens – travelling all the way from North America. Planted by the first property owner Arthur Hardy, a botanist whom established Mount Lofty House and its grounds, the tree greets guests at the entrance of Sequoia with its grand presence.

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©
SEQUOIA | Photography SEQUOIA© courtesy Loren Communications

A LUXURY STAY

A stay at the Sequoia intimate adults-only property is a stay amongst the world-renowned natural beauty of the Adelaide Hills.

Each of the fourteen luxury guest suites overlooks the region, with the internationally-recognised Mount Lofty Botanical Gardens at the foot of the mountain.

It’s an incredibly special sight, with each suite presenting unrivalled 180 degree views of Piccadilly Valley and views into the vast expanse of the Hills region, as far as the eye can see. The first keepers of the land – the Kaurna and Peramangk people – believed that Mount Lofty was a source of life in the region and often shared stories of Mount Lofty and Mount Bonython being the ears of Ngarno Yurrebella, the Creator Giant. The area is special for a reason, its importance can be felt when on premises.

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

In the morning at first light, sunrise slowly emerges across the valley in light orange and red hues. Soon after, bird song is heard as the early risers begin their day. A delightful way to start the day, the local high-fliers can be seen in the treetops in direct viewpoint to the guest rooms. Later in the day, an array of the other ‘local’s to the region emerge: eagles, black cockatoos (always in pairs), magpies and currawong can all be seen. For hotel guests, when relaxing on the suite balcony, there is never a dull moment with daily life in the Hills unfolding in the distance.

The design of Sequoia has taken inspiration from the surrounding valleys, with raw natural materials such as Basket Range (Adelaide Hills) stone and locally-sourced Spotted Gum featured throughout the property, a backdrop for the artisanal tableware, artworks and also sourced from South Australian craftspeople, supporting the local culture it champions.

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©
SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN

Envisioned by SA-based hotel re-developer David Horbelt and co-owner Malcolm Bean, Sequoia is the sister boutique accommodation offering to Mount Lofty Estate proudly next door. Before building Sequoia, Horbelt knew he didn’t wanted to overshadow the historic Mount Lofty Estate next door. 

Working closely with Adelaide-based interior designer Georgie Shepherd, the design of Sequoia reflects its surrounding landscape in its tones and curated design details from local makers. Striking lighting (such as the Igneous Wall Light by Ash Allen Design and James Walsh Studio), artistic vessels by Nick Mount Glass and Jam Factory sculptural ceramics all adorn the shelves of the lounge and guest rooms, set amongst furniture in warm, natural tones. Tableware and in-suite ceramics have also been sourced from local makers Es ceramics and Aburi ceramics. 

Local painter Stephen Trebilcock’s works are found throughout the boutique hotel premises. Based in the valley at Mount Lofty’s base, Trebilcock’s studio is indeed local, painting native florals in his specific style with incredible depth and detail. All available to purchase, Trebilcock’s paintings are larger-than-life, bringing the outside inside, creating a sort of heartbeat for the boutique lodging and its suites. 

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

GUEST EXPERIENCE

Check-in at Sequoia begins with a glass of sparkling wine by Sequoia, made locally in the Hills, as a seat in their lounge enables a moment to take in the surroundings and stunning view outside. The Sequoia Sparkling is made local wine maker Xavier Bizout with grapes from the onsite vineyard at Mount Lofty Estate.

The guest experience itself already began a week prior, when Sequoia guest experience manager Alison called me to confirm our itinerary on the property over 2 nights. We spent a day or so tweaking the schedule, and by our arrival to the hotel lounge, the on-site manager was able to swiftly run through our printed and finalised itinerary. With a schedule able to be amended at any time, the R.M. Williams-clad team at Sequoia know guests want to rest and relax, and the arranged itinerary remains flexible yet acts as a guide for guests during their stay. It’s exactly what a luxury experience should entail, and the Sequoia team manage this effortlessly and effectively. Their highly personalised service is unrivalled with their approach organised and extremely accomodating. 

An array of complimentary guest experiences can be arranged for guests, such as a guided morning walk to the Mount Lofty peak, morning yoga, electric bike hire, unlimited daytime use of the infinity pool and pre-booked private use of the artesian spring-fed hot pools. A South Australian Wine and Cheese Discovery experience was one of the highlights, presented to us in the comfort of our suite, with an informative introduction to their hand-picked top suppliers and makers. This introduction to some of the best local artisans in the area was very well curated, along with explanations of the specific processes used for the handmade items.

Sequoia guests also have exclusive use of the lodge lounge, where reading and relaxing can be done by day, with dining by fireplace and stargazing later at night. And to emphasise how curated the experience is at Sequoia, at turn-down guests are treated to a daily-changing digestif before bed (one our first night we arrived back to our suite and 2 glasses of Seppeltsfield 10 year old Grand Tawny awaited us, and on the second night we were delighted by limoncello from Unico Zelo [utilising the ugliest lemons from South Australia’s oldest citrus plantation in the Adelaide Hills, hand peeled by the family that runs the brand). The details of the guest experience have all been considered at Sequoia. 

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

ARTESIAN SPRING-FED HOT POOLS

An evening soak in the artesian spring-fed hot pools is a must to experience. Intimate and peaceful, a relaxing soak in the hot pools must be pre-booked, ensuring guests can relax with privacy on their own or with a guest. At sunset, the glow of the setting sun on the West alights the sky and – depending on the weather – floods the scene above with colour. 

Pure mountain water is fed straight through the underground aquifers naturally filtering the water through the pressurised flow of the water reaching the surface through stone and rock underground. The Kaurna and Peramangk people of the land believed Mount Lofty was a source of life in the region, with its ancient springs providing spring water to the region. At Sequoia, every tap uses the Mount Lofty spring water, bringing the purest water to guests throughout their stay. 

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©
SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

THE SUITES 

The fourteen guest suites are designed by interior designer Georgie Shepherd in collaboration with owner David Horbelt. Each carefully curated with artisanal art and design by local makers, the design of the suites themselves enables guests an authentic experience of the region. Their goal? To keep everything as local as possible. 

The split-level suites present sky lights and an open balcony with 180 degrees views over the region. Mod-cons have all been carefully selected, enabling easy use of switches with multiple uses such as black—out or spotlight; everything is used with ease. 

With limestone walls, a stone-clad gas fireplace, and sunken lounge, the suites feel enormous, enough to spend the entire day enjoying. The open mini-bar is stocked with South Australian produce, including wines, juices, loose-leaf tea, coffee and milk – all locally made and supplied. Hard-to-resist Belgian milk chocolate by South Australian chocolate artisan Steven ter Horst and more-ish Sam’s popcorn is made by a young schoolboy called Sam (who started his own business and still produces in South Australia as his business continues to grow with support from companies such as Sequoia).

The heavenly King-sized bed also comes with a pillow menu to select from, with its comfort factor at maximum. Together with the morning light waking us at dawn through the skylight (which we kept open, opting out of the black-out option), my circadian rhythm was kept in-check for a supremely restful sleep. 

The bathroom, featuring a generous two-person bathtub, rain shower and double vanity mirrors. Spacious and luxurious, the bathroom perfectly compliments the design approach of the suites, with a zen outdoor garden to privately view whilst relaxing in the tub. Found at the entranceway to the suites, the individual private gardens (viewing only) with water features are a clever way to utilise the spaces around the suites. Sustainable amenities include Seedling sole slippers (made from hemp, completely biodegradable), Hahndorf soap, Kangaroo Island Organia bath salts with lavender, and locally-made Jurlique products (shampoo, conditioner, hand wash and pillow mists).

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

DAY SPA

Found in a heritage cottage situated just outside Sequoia’s gate, the private and intimate Gatekeeper’s Day Spa offers a holistic menu of relaxing rituals, rejuvenating experiences and gentle beauty treatments. Using all Jurlique products made in the Adelaide Hills, the Day Spa takes the Sequoia luxury experience to another level.

Outside, a replica Jurlique rose and lavender garden has also been grown to celebrate the use of the South Australian-made products. Known for its individual and specially-cultivated unique species of rose by an expert grower, the now internationally known Jurlique brand  proudly champions the beauty of the Adelaide Hills region.

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

DINING

Multi-award winning restaurant Hardy’s Verandah is an ideal experience for Sequoia guests. Situated next door in the Mount Lofty House Estate, access to this restaurant is also prioritised for Sequoia guests, with bookings very sought-after. During our stay, the Valentines special menu at Hardy’s was almost booked out, highlighting this culinary experience in South Australia is still hot in demand, after many years in operation. It’s one of South Australia’s most acclaimed restaurants.

We dined at Hardy’s at lunch, for a light bite of South Australian Coffin Bay oysters with kale oil and ponzu – freshly shucked-to-order – and Mount Lofty ‘A Rock and a Hard Place’ spring water. Jazz played in the distance as we viewed guests in the garden enjoy an aperitif on the lawn.

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©
SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©
SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

On-site at Sequoia, breakfast and dinner are both offered and made in the kitchen on their premises with fresh ingredients all sourced from the region. The menu is extensive, featuring something for everyone. The breakfast boasts freshly-squeezed juices, freshly-ground coffee and everyone’s favourite dishes made-to-order. At dinner, starters include Coffin Bay oysters, Cape Jervis tuna tartare with three mains: chargrilled wagyu, tooth fish or gnocchi.

The wine list boasts the best from across the state, with brilliant organic options from Gemtree in McLaren Vale and Alkina in the Barossa. A Section 28 cheeseboard can round out the evening, but we opted for the house made sorbets and deconstructed pavlova which was artistically presented and tasted equally as good.

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©
SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

THE VERDICT

From initial correspondence with Sequoia guest experience managers prior to arrival, to the duration of the stay at the boutique lodging, the experience was effortless and relaxing. So memorable, that we are contemplating when we can return in a different season to experience the Hills during the colder months when the views – the living painting outside – turns to deeper and brighter greens.

There is so much to do at Sequoia. In addition to the above, there is also a tennis court and several walking trails accessed from the estate grounds. Time both stands still and flies by when a flexible schedule on the property enables guests to completely relax.

Bed & Breakfast Package starts at $1500 AUD, and is ideal if spending the day out exploring the Adelaide Hills. For the All Inclusive Package, prices start from $2499 – presenting the ultimate luxury experience to stay and fully unwind on the property.

SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©
SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©
SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©
SEQUOIA | Photography Champ Magazine©

SEQUOIA Lodge
1 Mawson Drive,
Crafers SA 5152, Australia

For more Adelaide destinations, click here.

Text: Monique Kawecki, Editorial Director
Images: Champ Creative for Champ Magazine©  

March, 2024