The new Astra Lodge, Falls Creek
While European ski chalets have always been fit for princes, in Australia you can count the number of luxury lodges on one hand.
Raise a schnapps, then, to Astra Lodge at Falls Creek in the Victorian High Country (from $622 during peak season). Refurbished inside and out by Melbourne architect firm Grant Amon, the old family-friendly chalet in the heart of the village is a cool slice of Scandi-inspired luxury in local stone and wood.
The four-storey ski-in, ski-out lodge has 20 guestrooms, six studios and a two-bedroom apartment with mountain views and a range of après-ski essentials: a bar replete with Danish leather lounges, a heated magnesium mineral pool, a family lounge and a day spa with steam room and sauna, and a grooming menu that extends to a dram of whisky during beard-trimming.
The Astra Lodge bar.
Chef Emma Handley, late of Villa Gusto in Bright, oversees the lodge's Italian restaurant, serving the likes of risotto with nettles and porcini, or, for those who have really been hammering the slopes, a char-grilled half-kilo T-bone with salsa verde and crumbed eggplant.
There to assist the skiers is Adalbert Leibetseder, proponent of a diagnostic method called Skimetrics, part of which is custom boot fitting and shaping. He spends the northern winter training world-champion skiers in Austria and southern winters coaching at Astra.
Owners Rosy (a Falls Creek local) and Seumas Seaton fully reopened their lodge last month, but even with only half the renovations finished it managed to pick up the title of Australia's best boutique ski lodge at the World Ski Awards in Kitzbühel, Austria, last year.