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Saffire brings new luxury to Tasmania
"I'LL LEAVE you to your bliss," says spa manager Felicity Runciman.
She reads people pretty well.
The spa treatment from spa therapist Jessica Marthick has taken me somewhere else for an hour and I've emerged with the glow, literally (there's sapphire dust in the final coat), of a changed man.
The waiting room has comfortable lounge chairs, herbal tea, subtle music, a wilderness magazine and bliss.
Ninety minutes earlier I arrive at Saffire, flustered because I'm running a little late.
I park and walk along the tail of the stingray-shaped main building.
Workers put finishing touches on the outer entrance and I'm greeted by staff as two sets of glass automatic double doors ease open.
Reception, it turns out, is to the right but it is impossible to do anything but move straight ahead, along a marble-and-slate jetty to a small platform. The tractor beam that captures you is the view of Coles Bay and The Hazards, capped by the undulating edge of Saffire's roof.
As I'm picking my jaw up from the floor - it is about 3pm on the windless first day of July and the sun is blazing - a concierge is discreetly moving my bags to my room and a valet is parking the car.
There's a little bit of meeting and greeting before I slip downstairs, past an art gallery, along a path to my room, a deluxe suite called Devonian.
Again, the view looks out over Coles Bay and commands attention, highlighted by a wooden frame around the vast central window.
There's a briefing about how things work. The blinds and lights are individually or collectively controlled from a wall panel and these blinds have a fair journey from the ceiling-to-floor windows.
A television screen emerges from a wall cavity above a grey ironbark desk, where a huon pine box carries stationery and a magnifying glass.
I'm shown the minibar and a drawer with Lark Distillery single-malt whisky and chips, lollies and a bottle of Stefano Lubiana pinot noir.
All these goodies are included in the room rate of $1250 a night for the deluxe suite or $1550 if you want dinner with drinks and other extras.
An iPod is playing random music so I rearrange it to bring some Cat Stevens and Daddy Cool into the room.
The bathroom and king-sized bed are a few steps above the living room, where there's an uncrowded placement of lounge suite, chairs and coffee table, with a few books scattered around; among them an Errol Flynn biography.
Outside there are two options. A side porch overlooking the bay and the entrance courtyard, with its slate tiles and groomed gravel.
I find it hard to quickly describe this $32 million, 20-suite development designed by Robert Morris Nunn and Associates and built by Fairbrother. Yes, it's a high-end lodge, or resort. But those descriptions are used
frequently and, as Federal Group managing director Greg Farrell said recently, there is nothing like Saffire in Tasmania.
It's luxury cubed.
Nationally, it's been mentioned alongside Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island and Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa in the Blue Mountains.
Perhaps the dollars tell the story. I thought high-end hotels were going a bit over the top a few years ago with pillow menus _ Federal offers a helicopter menu for transfers from Hobart.
Guests can spend $2000 to spend 45 minutes in a Bell 206 Jetranger, cut five minutes off the journey for a $3000 ride in a AS355 Twin Squirrel or breeze along for 35 minutes and $3200 in a Bell 222.
Fixed wing (oh, the shame) will set you back $1800 but get you there in 25 minutes. A chaffeur-driven transfer is $400 and a leisurely three hours.
Guests at Saffire are not going to be the sort of people who count their 10-cent pieces.
Federal embarked on a massive recruitment drive to find the right 42 people to staff Saffire. Among them is executive chef Hugh Whitehouse, who took Darley's at Lilianfels in the Blue Mountains to "two hat'' status.
Whitehouse embarked on a Tasmanian food odyssey to prepare Saffire's menu.
But more on that next week.
- The writer was a guest of Saffire.