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“If you want to eat make sure you book the Restaurant!” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa

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Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa
4.0 of 5 Resort   |   1309 Melba Highway & Gulf Road, Yarra Glen, Victoria 3775, Australia   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 4 hotels in Yarra Glen
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“If you want to eat make sure you book the Restaurant!”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2007

We booked the Balgownie for 2 nights to celebrate our wedding anniversary having read a number of good reviews and seen the property on a travel show. We booked the 2 night package wihich included breakfast and 3 bottles of wine. The website advertised a meal would be included if staying on the Friday night, however, when I booked I was told this was not valid on a Friday or Saturday night, the website was wrong!

Our first problem was encountered in the Restaurant on the Friday evening, we booked the table for 8pm. Upon arrival we were told 'everyone had arrived at once' and could we take a seat with the wine list. We were happy to wait with a glass of wine, 15 mins later the waitress came back and said our table was ready - we had not been offered a glass of wine.

Ordered our food, asked for some bread only to be told they had run out and some more had been put on, 10 mins later we saw a table next to us offered bread however, they did not come over to us. The main meals arrived and I had the 12 hour slow cooked steak, it was very fatty and certainly didn't cut as if it had been cooking for 12 hours. Our main meals were taken away and that was it, we weren't offered dessert or coffee so we paid our bill and left.

We went to reception and shared our concerns, details were taken and we were told they would be passed onto the Manager - that was the last we heard of it.

Saturday afternoon my husband tried to book a table in the Restaurant only to be told it was fully booked, we could ring a neighbouring winery to see if they could accommodate us! As we were hotel residents I expected to get a table and didn't wish to drive or hire a taxi to visit somewhere else. Eventually they booked us in their Restaurant and we had fabulous service and amazing food, but we did note that there were a least 12 tables laid with no-one sitting at them!

One other problem encountered when we complained about fellow guests music Reception did try to contact the other guests to turn it down however, as it was so load they couldn't hear the door bell or telephone ringing.

As we checked out we were asked if we enjoyed our stay, at no time did the Manager contact us to discuss our problems or offer an apology.

We were disappointed, this is not a cheap hotel and we expected a better standard of service and attention.

If you do visit this hotel, our main suggestion is to book a meal if you want to eat in the Restaurant.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Restaurant
  • Stayed September 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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531 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (80)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2007

We spent only 1 night at the resort, which was too short. The rooms themselves were great. The nicest that we stayed at in Australia and we stayed in a few 5 stars. The place is all new and they did an excellent job of configuring the rooms.

We stayed in the 1 bedroom, the balcony was great with a lovely view. The spa tub was amazing, you have a view of the city lights at night. It was refreshing to have a a kitchenette after dining at restuarants for 2 weeks we decided to go to the grocery store and get some of our own provisions.

Someone commented on their not being free water bottles, however I don't think there was 1 hotel we stayed at on our whole trip to Australia that had any free water bottles, and of course they are going to charge for the wine. Their is a fridge, plates, silverware, microwave, toaster and more for your own provisions if you'd like.

Can't comment on the restaurant, only that we looked at the menu and it looked great. We were sad that we had already bought food (and didn't have another opportunity to use it).

The spa area was great. I loved going in the heated pool and checking out all the various jets. I personally like the waterfall, I thought it added a nice ambiance. I really loved the gym too, very modern, it made me want to work out :)

I would love to stay here again.

  • Stayed August 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney Australia
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2007

Again I was a bit concerned to read the views of other travellers before staying here. We too were on the bed, breakfast and dinner packages here. This resort is very nice. I actually think the rooms which are more like small units with seperate lounge, dining, kitchenette and bedrooms are very nice. We had just come from the Westin Melbourne and would put the bathrooms at Balgownie on a par with the Westin. The check in staff were very attentive and a person materialised from nowhere to take our luggage to our rooms. The room had the most fabulous views of the Yarra Valley and was very comfortable. The mini bar well stocked and I must add that the wines were very reasonably priced so we partook of the sparkling each evening before dinner. The room attendants were very attentive making sure that we had whatever we needed. The airconditioning was a bit noisy but if you set it to fan constantly then it was ok. Dinner at the restaurant was ok. It wasn't as bad as other reviewers made out. We had the duck pancakes and they were fine. They were just a variation of peking duck. The waiters at the restaurant were very attentive and even advised that we should come to breakfast at 9 as there was a conference in house (not that you could tell). The breakfsat was also fine and whilst not comprable to the Lake House at Daylesford where we stayed after Balgownie it was not far behind in either quality or selection. We all agreed we would stay again at Balgownie.

  • Liked — The Views
  • Disliked — Noisy Airconditioning
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2007

I booked a one night stay here a few weeks ago, as a treat for myself and my Brother and his Wife. I decided to go for the room, dinner bed and breakfast package. When I made the booking, the staff on the phone were friendly and helpful.

We arrived here yesterday and checked in around lunchtime, again, the staff were very welcoming and pleasant.

Our rooms were upstairs balcony spa suites, with separate bedrooms, living areas, kitchenettes and a big spa bath in each room. Very clean and new was the initial impression. The rooms were very well equipped.

I was surprised however to see that they were charging even for the bottled water, as well as for the numerous bottles of wine that had been left in the room.

I stepped out onto the balcony to find in need of a good clean, there were spiders' webs everywhere, and there was a layer of dust on the furniture and surfaces. There was bird guano on the balcony railing, which spoilt the overall impression of the place.

We made our way to the 'Natskin Spa' to enjoy the 'indoor heated activity pool' The facilities were spotlessly clean, we were the only ones using the place, I would imagine it could become quite crowded quite quickly, as it is rather small in size.

I was disappointed in the pool as one of the hydro massage chairs wasn't working, more concerning however was the presence of sharp edges on some of the underwater structures that could be potentially dangerous. I pointed this out to the manager there who took some interest in what I had to say. One thing that made the space far from conducive to relaxation was the water feature, a large waterfall type structure which made such a noise, it was impossible to communicate with my guests without shouting at the top of our voices. We decided to retreat to our respective private spa baths which provided much needed R&R.

We made our way over to dinner and after starving ourselves most of the day in anticipation of our gastronomic delight, we were looking forward to a good hearty meal. My Brother and his wife ordered 'Yellow fin seared tuna' and I had duck pancakes.
To our dismay both dishes were raw (the duck had been smoked but was chewy, slimy raw meat nonetheless) The tuna had been shown a pan for no more than 10 seconds.

We all ordered '12 hour slow cooked Scotch Fillet' for our main course. We were confident that this would at least be cooked.
We also decided to indulge in a 1997 Cabernet Sauvingon.
The food arrived, we then waited 10 minutes for the wine to make an appearance, after having to ask for it twice.
The 1997 Cabernet Sauvingon was a delight, one of the best wines I had ever had the pleasure of tasting. It didn't however make up for the 'Scotch fillet' which was ropey and riddled with chewy fat. A gratinated potato side dish never arrived, and the vegetables that garnished the dish were raw.

The waiter seemed to think we were joking when we made our feelings known regarding the shortcomings of the restaurant so far, perhaps we didn't make enough of a fuss about it.

Dessert was mediocre, and uninspiring, much to my horror, they hadn't got the makings of an Irish coffee, a winery with Celtic roots and they couldn't even throw together an Irish coffee. Could anything get worse?

We made our way back to our rooms and settled down for the night. The bed was very comfortable, with plenty of pillows.

We were BOTH rudely awoken at 7am by the clock radio in the rooms. Mine ended up being unplugged and fired across the room after numerous attempts to shut it up. My brother ended up having to get up out of bed to work out how to turn his off.

Check out time was 11am (we were also notified that there would be a penalty if we checked out even minutes after this, something I am not at all happy with, that is very poor hospitality)
We made our way down to what was billed a 'gourmet breakfast' in the restaurant.

The staff were fairly welcoming and informative. Despite the property being virtually empty, the restaurant was full of people who had just completed an early morning balloon trip. They were all quaffing sparkling wine and enjoying the post flight euphoria. We felt marginalised in the corner of the restaurant and like we were just getting the scraps of what wasn't a particularly 'gourmet' breakfast in the beginning.

To me a 'gourmet breakfast' is an individually prepared meal with unusual ingredients of the highest quality. We suffered a bland and dry buffet selection of bacon that had been in the bain marie for too long, scrambled eggs that had seen better days, coffee that was stewed beyond consumption and toast that you had to toast yourself in ineffective toasting machines.

We went to check out. There were two girls on the reception desk. both of whom seemed to be attending to a family who were checking in. One girl started to help me but halfway through just seemed to tune out of what she was doing and left me standing there with no explanation. After 5 minutes I decided to go and empty my room and return when she had 'found herself again'. On my return, I asked to speak to the manager on duty. I raised all my issues with her, to be met with the standard: ''Thank you for your feedback, it will be raised in the next management meeting'' not even an apology. Not even an offer to take something off the bill. I was glad to be leaving, and will definitely not be returning, nor recommending this place to anybody. They have the makings of a fantastic retreat/resort there, but the staff's ability to solve problems, to deal with complaints and deliver what their website promises is far from adequate.

The rooms were AU$375 and AU$450, we would have been better off in a B&B. I felt fleeced as I drove away from the place.

  • Liked — Clean and new
  • Disliked — Poor staff attitude and dreadfull food
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2007

My partner and I spent 2 nights at Balgownie Resort and Spa over the March long weekend 2007. We were really looking forward to a relaxing stay with great accommodation and fantastic food...unfortunately we were to be very disappointed. The staff were quiet helpful on check-in but we were put into a room next to a hens party (we specifically requested a quiet room). We had 12 females screaming at the top of their voices and slamming doors until 3am in the morning, whilst we had called reception on a number of occassions complaining and they did come over to their room and warn them the noise/party did not stop and nothing was done about it!! We went to reception about it once again the next morning but did not feel it was a problem to them. We also booked to have dinner in their restaurant and I can only say the food was well below average, chicken was dry and the steak was like a cheap stew...the breakfast was also average being that their was no tomato sauce no vegemite no peanut butter no jam, no poached or fried eggs and very limited fresh fruit. It really gave us the impression they were trying their hardest to be above average but were failing miserably! We decided to go out of the resort after breakfast and returned about 2pm expecting that our room would be cleaned but were told they did not know when they would be able to do our room as the room next door (hens party) was taking them so long to do, we ended up just asking for some clean towels. Whilst the apartment itself was quiet nice it was overall a very disappointing experience and if you are looking for a peaceful weekend with good food do not stay here but, we did have a very nice dinner on one night of our stay at Yering Station which is where we will be staying on our next visit

  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Top Contributor
129 reviews 129 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
71 helpful votes 71 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2007

I booked into Balgownie with my teenage daughter to get some rest - looked great on the internet. We found the rooms lovely - big and well equiped. The restaurant is awful and the service is very average. Far from getting rest, we found the hotel very noisy, staff have little respect for moving around quietly, they are very loud and we were woken the one morning by a workman walking on the roof in his clompy boots, the water was cut off for a couple of hours, when addressing some issues with the staff and even on writing to management, one gets the impression that they couldn't care less. We had the do not disturb sign up on the door as we were getting ready one morning and overheard the cleaning staff speculating why we were in the room - really base behaviour! Great location and rooms, the spa is lovely and has excellent staff. Unfortunately one cannot say the same for the staff and service of the hotel. I agree with another traveller that finding a good meal in the valley is a challenge - again the Healesville Hotel is highly recommended as is Yering Station and Tarrawara for lunch.

  • Liked — Rooms and the spa
  • Disliked — Restaurant and Staff
  • Tips/Secrets — Find another place to stay - recommend Yering Station
  • Stayed November 2006, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2006

My boyfriend & I just returned from a two night stay at Balgownie Vineyard Retreat & Spa & had a wonderful time there.

After researching some online specials with other hotel websites we found booking directly with the hotel was definitely worth it. Our package included a two night stay with breakfast & a voucher to the Natskin day spa.

Our room was located on the top floor with a balcony overlooking the Yarra Valley. The modern rooms were a really good size. They included a separate bedroom, kitchenette & quite a large lounge area. The best part was the open spa which was located in the middle of the room that also overlooked the Valley.

Considering the fact that they were in the middle of building the second stage of the resort, we found it quite peaceful. Maybe because our room was located down the far end of the resort.

The Natskin day spa was also lovely. We enjoyed a duo massage there before relaxing in the Experience pool, which is open to all guests.

Only fault we could find was that the breakfast was average. In fact finding a nice meal in the area was quite a challenge. We experienced a few average meals (especially the Grand Hotel in Yarra Glen - do not attempt to dine there) before finding a lovely one at the Healesville Hotel. (15 minute drive from the resort)

Besides that, we found it to be a lovely resort. Perfect for a romantic getaway & will definitely be returning. Well worth the $.

  • Stayed November 2006, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa

Address: 1309 Melba Highway & Gulf Road, Yarra Glen, Victoria 3775, Australia
Location: Australia > Victoria > Yarra Valley > Yarra Glen
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 hotels in Yarra Glen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa is ideally located in the heart of the Yarra Valley less than 1hr from Melbourne CBD & Airport. Boasting contemporary first class spa suite accommodation with spectacular views across the valley, Rae’s Restaurant, Cellar Door with complimentary wine tasting 7 days, Health Club, Natskin Spa Retreat, modern conferencing and leisure facilities plus more! Whenever you visit, you are guaranteed a memorable stay in the heart of Victorian wine country. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort And Spa
Balgownie Estate Vineyard Hotel Yarra Glen
Balgownie Vineyard Retreat Hotel
Balgownie Vineyard Retreat Resort
Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa Yarra Glen, Yarra Valley, Australia

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