Australia is home to many incredible retreats, but to be recognized as one of the finest in the country is certainly no mean feat. Lake House Daylesford, which sits on 70,000 sprawling hectares of Wombat State Forest, 80 minutes from Melbourne, has quite literally put the area on the map. As one of Australia’s most awarded destination venues, this highly celebrated property originally launched in 1984 as a destination restaurant by wife and husband duo, Alla and Allan Wolf-Tasker. The concept behind the operation was to create a venue “worthy of a journey”, and it’s safe to say it’s all that and more.
The story began almost 40 years ago with Chef Alla’s vision of creating and supporting a sustainable food community in the region. Alla’s passion for food and hospitality, alongside her husband’s ability to build and design, armed the couple with the necessary tools to set up the business, but it was their unrelenting passion and “dare to dream” attitude that ultimately led to its success.
According to Larissa, the couple’s daughter, who now works alongside her parents, the restaurant has always been “the beating heart of Lake House.” The true values and philosophies of the business were borne from her mother’s commitment to fine cuisine, which has evolved to include a Cooking School, running masterclasses by some of Australia’s most prolific chefs, and the newly opened Dairy Flat Lodge and Farm. Larissa fondly recalls childhood travels with her parents that invariably revolved around which restaurants they wanted to visit. With such a solid foundation in food and hospitality, it was only a matter of time before Larissa, who herself spent many years working in the industry, would join the family business. Chef Alla remains Culinary Director, whilst Allan is the Resident Artist, whose contemporary paintings, inspired by the surrounding nature, beautifully adorn the walls of one of Melbourne’s finest establishments.
Much like Allan’s art, Lake House is a masterpiece in its own right, skillfully woven from the rich tapestry of the land around it. Crystal clear lakes, waterfalls and volcanic plains, as well as Australia’s largest array of mineral springs, provide the 33 luxury suites with the best that nature has to offer. Art exhibitions are held on rotation, and guests can enjoy immersive wine tours and farm-to-table menus perfectly aligned with the seasonal calendar. As Larissa puts it, Lake House is
“a destination for people who love good food and wine. Even more than that, it’s a home-away-from-home for many entrepreneurs, businesspeople and savvy travellers.”
At a time when sustainability is very much at the forefront of the industry, the Wolf-Taskers source as much as they can from the local community, whilst the restaurant is almost entirely supplied by the on-site Dairy Flat Farm. The regenerative organic farm boasts not only a herb and vegetable garden, but a vineyard, orchard, olive grove and now, a bake house too. Guests looking to experience life on a farm can do so in luxurious comfort at the concierge-serviced private lodge, which accommodates up to 12 guests.
It takes values and vision to create a successful business, but it requires constant evolution, revision and refinement, to ensure the business becomes a legacy. Lake House remains at the top of its game, holding 2 Chefs Hats from the national Good Food Guide. The Cellar sits pride of place in Australia’s Wine List of the Year, whilst the hotel has been repeatedly recognised in the Luxury Travel Gold List and most recently as Australia’s Best Food & Wine Property and Australia’s Best Regional Hotel.
So, what’s next for this forward-thinking family? As well as their newly opened ‘Bake House’, serving up the finest sourdough Down Under, the Wolf-Taskers are bringing their “Farm to Spa” approach to a series of signature treatments at the relaxing Lake House Spa, which draws upon the medicinal power of herbs and plants. Brace yourself for more projects, and we’re sure, more accolades coming soon…
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