Though it’s barely over an hour’s drive from Adelaide, Middleton feels a world away from the city. Time seems to move more slowly in this laid-back coastal village, something that winemaker Rose Kentish has come to appreciate in the 16 years she’s called the Fleurieu Peninsula town home.
The winemaker, distiller and Sparkke co-founder has spent the last five years patiently restoring the former stables beside the gorgeous 1850s mill where she and her husband Sam Harrison live. The idea was to create a blissful private sanctuary where guests can leave the world behind for a few days. Late last year, the couple quietly launched Págo.
The name comes from the Latin word for village, “because we’re in the heart of a village,” Kentish explains. “You’re 400 metres from a great surf break and you’ll hear tractors or even the cockle train going past, but if you close the windows it’s pretty soundproof.” And, within the village of Middleton, the four king-size rooms of Págo make up their own self-sufficient community.
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Four rooms hug a 20-metre pool surrounded by greenery that’s fed via a grey water system. A multitude of personal touches throughout the property reflect Kentish and Harrison’s idiosyncratic journey to transform the former 19th-century stables.
The two have collected art their entire lives, and they have a tradition of gifting each other artworks to celebrate each anniversary. These artworks – which range from op-shop finds to important early modern Danish works – decorate the rooms along with a selection of Harrison’s original paintings (his studio is in the mill next door).
“We wanted each room to have its own personality,” says Kentish, pointing out one work that depicts the rooftop view from the home they shared in Paris. That personal touch is echoed in furnishings that include delicate hand-blown lamps and thrown ceramics from the Jam Factory, handmade shower tiles from Morocco and furniture built by Harrison and finished at St Morris Upholsterers.
“We wanted to honour local craftsmen where possible while also having things like these Danish paintings,” Kentish says. There’s a similar interplay between heritage and modern touches. When doing the initial renovation, they thought a lot about texture and tonality, so the original stone walls are whitewashed but preserve their pleasingly bumpy finish, while the terrazzo floor hides underfloor heating and cooling.
The beds are covered with pastel linens from Hale Mercantile Co and French doors bring plenty of natural light in, turning each room into a nurturing cocoon.
The overall aim, says Kentish, was “to create a feeling of retreat and relaxation where people won’t be overloaded”. The understated wellness vibe also extends to the pool and spa, which are enriched with magnesium that acts as a muscle relaxant. There are several lounges on the surrounding paved area and lights both above and in the pool glow at night, which is “a little bit disco,” says Kentish.
Rooms can be booked individually or for a group of up to eight, and the adjacent common area is equipped with a barbeque, pizza oven and dishwasher as well as fridges stocked with breakfast ingredients and beverages. A complimentary bottle of wine awaits guests in each room, and on request Kentish can provide a guided tasting of her eponymous wine label or the Full Circle Spirits range that includes a spiced chinotto gin and a vodka designed to evoke a stroll through the Adelaide Hills.
Like Págo, the spirits are influenced by everything in Kentish’s life, from morning walks to experiences drawn from her decades as a travelling winemaker. “The idea is that it’s a mix of all the things that have influenced us,” she says.
From $800 per night for two guests. Two-night minimum stay.