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Palm Springs chic in the Victorian Alps with the new Hara House hotel

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

With a kidney shaped pool, shady palms, fine dining restaurant and soon to open day spa Hara House opened on the weekend offering resort style accommodation in the Ovens Valley.

It was formerly the Ovens Valley Motor Inn, a mid-20th century court style motel and the original home of the much acclaimed restaurant Simone’s of Bright. Owners Simeon and Shannon Crawley, who also founded bean to bar enterprise Bright Chocolate, have spent several years planning and redeveloping the iconic motel, doubling down on the mid 20th century feel, planting established palms, stripping back the rooms, and refurnishing them with high end furniture, bedding and linen with spacious walk-in bathrooms.

Hotel BrightIt’s also a kid free – adult only offer with snacks and drinks offered in the room as part of the tariff. “We didn’t want people putting their hand in their pocket to pay $8 for a pack of nuts from the mini-bar,” says Shannon.

The star of the show is the new restaurant Pepperberry. It sits in the heart of the main building and showcases local produce with a modern Australian menu. Early reports are glowing and so they should. It’s a crack team with chefs Yasuaki Tokuda and Emma Holberry  behind the pans. Yasuaki is from Japan and was Head Chef at Mario i Sentieri in Tokyo and relocated his family to Australia in 2013. Since then, he has held the position of Sous Chef at Michael Ryan’s Provenance Restaurant in Beechworth.

Emma cooked with Collin McClaren at Villa Gusto, in the Buckland Valley. She went on to be Head Chef at Falls Creek’s luxury hotel, Astra Lodge, before launching her own restaurant Templar Lodge in the Kiewa Valley.

Together they have written a menu that is diverse and intelligent with a sense of fun. They have leaned into the mid 20th century feel with a range of snacks that would have been served when Don Lane was King: devils on horseback, prawn cocktails, devilled eggs and a potato duchess with single serve Vegemite sachet.

A brave dish that is as delicious as it is ironic. The $85 four course set menu continues with entrees such as cured salmon sushi with puffed rice, kangaroo tartar or a Portobello mushroom Kiev. Mains could be local trout cooked in paper, rich beef Stroganoff with handmade pappardelle or a stuffed cabbage rolled that has been gratineed and served with smoked tomato cream. Desserts may include a bombe Alaska or a wattle seed panna cotta.

“Hara House has been developed as a place for people to stay, unwind,” says Shannon. “We offer complimentary bike hire, tennis court yoga classes, lawn games and fire pits come winter. More than a hotel, it’s an experience-rich wonderland, and we believe it will be a unique base to explore our wineries, National Parks and mountain bike attractions.”

Hara Hotel

The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail passes by the front door of Hara House, which is a 12 minute walk from Bright village. Book before June 17 for a 30% opening discount.


What: New accommodation & restaurant
Where: 2 Ashwood Ave, Bright VIC
More Info: Hara House

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