Swish hotels have their time and place, but on a beach holiday there’s something delightfully nostalgic about a motel stay. The Great Ocean Road is peppered with them, but Sunnymead is different.
The team behind Great Ocean Road Resort has transformed a former motel in Aireys Inlet into a bright and contemporary 20-suite hotel, just a few streets from the famous lighthouse from ’90s TV show Round the Twist and right next door to one of the area’s best restaurants, A La Grecque.
The design is mid-century with a modern twist. An orange and white checkered walkway leads to each room, all of which are decked out with vintage-inspired furnishings, sunset-hued accents and a minibar stocked almost entirely with local products (Great Ocean Road Gin, Timboon Distillery whisky and ceramic mugs by Anglesea artist Melinda Solly).
And inspired by co-owner Damien Cerantonio’s travels through India, what was once an event space is now Santara, an Indian-Australian eatery led by chef Adam Cooke.
The menu pairs Indian flavours with local ingredients. Dishes include pani puri stuffed with prawn and Yarra Valley caviar; ginger and coconut steamed mussels with black garlic naan; and chai-roasted peaches served with Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery ice-cream.
“I’m trying to take my favourite little street snacks, flavours and seasonings and incorporate them with the awesome ingredients we have here,” says Cooke.
With help from architect Cera Stribley, the former manager’s residence has been turned into a spa and communal bathhouse. You can also choose from treatments for face and body, and packages for singles, couples or groups. The 30-minute Vichy shower (named for a famous spa town in France) is a steam room where you can apply your own body scrubs, muds and hair mask.
To fill the rest of the day, take a dip in the umbrella-lined mineral pool, cosy up by the firepit or book the hotel’s bright yellow Volkswagen Kombi – Daisy – for a tour of the town. You’re also steps from one of the Great Ocean Road’s great restaurants in A La Grecque. Make sure you stop in for seasonal dishes that riff heavily on the owners’ Greek heritage.