The story of the estate. São Lourenço do Barrocal has been in the same family for more than 200 years, and it was José António Uva (who is eight generation of the same family) who had a vision to turn the family property into a farm retreat he could share with others. The passion and dedication behind José António’s dream, and what he has created, is incredibly inspiring.
The interiors. Perfectly simple and calming. The interior design was led by José António’s wife Ana’s design studio, AnahoryAlmeida (also responsible for the interiors of many of Lisbon’s finest restaurants) and it is a dream.
Hortelão, their outdoor restaurant. The most beautiful place to dine between Spring through Autumn, this slow-food, farm to fork restaurant is located next to the pool, right by the organic kitchen garden, and is the perfect place to enjoy a dinner under the stars.
POINT LONSDALE, VICTORIA • HOME HOTEL • 7 LUXURY SUITES
Sitting on over 200 acres of farmland in Point Lonsdale—just 1.5 hours from Melbourne—lies a property that has been in Claire Gemes’ family for over 100 years. Claire had long dreamt of turning the space into a home-hotel she could share with others, and that dream became a reality back in 2018, when Lon Retreat debuted in October. At Lon Retreat, guests are offered an incredibly warm and relaxed coastal accommodation experience.
For the design, Claire collaborated with local interior designer Pippa Melville of Pip Interiors. They first met up in late 2016, sharing Pinterest boards and other images of inspiration until they came up with exactly the design aesthetic they were looking for. Claire's goal was for the space to have a “beautiful simplicity,” feeling luxe with a coastal, relaxed vibe.
Walking into the lobby, you immediately notice this feeling. Pip has always been drawn to natural, varied textures in her designs, using materials such as cane, leather, concrete, stone, and linen to create a warm and inviting vibe, often with a modernist feel. There's a wood-fire and smooth concrete walls that contrast with timber ceiling panels and hand-made furniture. You’ll spot lights crafted from ostrich eggs, wallpaper inspired by indigenous artists, heirloom vegetables on the plate, and local gin in the honesty bar. A lush moss green linen sofa by Pop and Scott, a pale rust Argentinian sheep’s wool floor rug, and a large painting by Hannah Nowlan all add to the welcoming vibe as well.
The pace is slower here. Claire offers a generous welcome on arrival, and freshly baked muffins (made by Claire’s mum!) wait on a counter for guests.
Why I love it
I love Lon Retreat for many reasons. I love the feeling of warmth and generous hospitality that Claire and Rob have created. The warm welcome, the freshly baked muffins, the showcasing of local artists, regular art shows, and the peace and serenity of the surrounding paddocks and nearby ocean.
I have been lucky enough to stay in the beautiful Alto Suite on each of my visits, with its stunning views over the farm, ocean, and the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse - all of which you can gaze over while relaxing in the suite’s deep-set stone mineral bath (hot mineral springs are fed directly into your bath). I definitely recommend booking this space if you're looking for a really special experience. It is full of natural light, with its huge windows and high ceilings.
While the Alto Suite is the pick of the bunch, all seven rooms are atmospheric – each named after a cloud – with heavenly sunset views of the woolly farm land, dunes and ocean.
Claire encourages guests to slow down on arrival to Lon Retreat and escape the busyness of life but not in a prescriptive way. You can choose to do as little or as much as you like. The Lon Spa is a perfect way to whittle away a few hours, with simple, blissful treatments to choose from. For spare moments, there are also beautiful walking paths around the property and down to the beach that can also be enjoyed.
“It’s the place in its totality that makes it special. It’s hard to describe without visiting,” Claire notes of Lon Retreat.
It’s a comfortable yet luxurious space that is purposefully designed to make visitors feel nurtured while they enjoy their natural environment: acres of native sand dune scrub and farmland bordered by the southern ocean.
About the owners
Lon Retreat is a home hotel - literally created from the family home of Claire & Rob Gemes on a farm by sea held within the family for over 150 years. The concept is simple - surrounding yourself in the beautiful simplicity of slowing down. Watching the clouds float over and the ship pass you by whilst soaking in the mineral springs and experiencing local produce both from the farm and by talented friends up the road. Claire & Rob renovated and extended the family sandstone home over 2 years of sweat, tears and giggles and opened the doors in 2018 as a place for people to escape the busyness of life - even if just for a few days.
What to do nearby
Shop at Dougal
Have a wine at
Spa treatment at
What to bring