Pop the bubbly – the world’s first Hotel Clicquot has debuted in Australia, treating guests to the finer things in life, including lots of champagne, writes Cathy Wagstaff.
I see my daughter lounging in a hammock. The balmy Byron Bay weather is soporific, but she still has a glass of champagne in her hand. As she should – after all, we’re at the world’s first Hotel Clicquot, a collaboration between the creative geniuses from Studio Messe, Black Communications and Moet Hennessey with the goal of showing that Veuve Clicquot is more than just a highly drinkable champagne – the brand offers a complete lifestyle experience.
Veuve is one of Australia’s highest-selling champagnes, and the second-most popular bubbles brand in the world. The House of Clicquot is known for paving the way for other champagne houses. It was the first of its kind to have a woman at its helm. Pioneering Madame Clicquot is the most influential woman in champagne history. She was a game-changer, ahead of her time and, to this day, a role model. The widow (‘veuve’ in French) was the world’s first international business woman from 1805 to 1866. She took over her husband’s failing brand when he passed away at just 30 years old. Madame Clicquot went on to turn it into an overwhelming success. She would no doubt be proud to see that, today, the label is still making waves in the hospitality industry.
Byron Bay bliss
Six of us were fortunate enough to spend a weekend at Hotel Clicquot, set in the lush Byron Bay hinterland. It felt, however, like we’d been transported to the Mediterranean. Through huge double doors we were swept into a luxe space. It was complete with all high ceilings, exposed timber beams, floaty whites and natural stone floors. In true Veuve style, there were splashes of the brand’s signature sunburst-yellow throughout. It was dotted from the bar stools to the throw cushions and the fun striped sun umbrellas ringing the pool. The attention to detail was impeccable, as you would expect from a high-end luxury brand of this calibre.
Our suite enjoyed its own wing, replete with two balconies – one from the bedroom onto a large space with an outdoor shower and that hammock, and dreamy views for days over the pool, petanque lawn and hinterland, all the way to the ocean. We could access the second via double doors beside our stone bathtub. Perfect for throwing open while soaking, enjoying the ocean breeze and vivid magenta of bougainvillea clinging to villa walls. Branding was subtle, carried through from the Tesla X that collected us at the airport – and at our beck and call during our entire stay – to the six-seater helicopter, longboards lined up for our surf lessons, Airstream in the garden and even the towels draped over us when enjoying a massage.
Sustainable menus at Hotel Cliquot
The heroes of our weekend were Alanna Sapwell – ex-Saint Peter in Sydney, and one of Australia’s finest young chefs, honoured by Veuve as among its ‘New Makers’ – and David Moyle, who is the ‘chief of food’ across a number of Byron-region restaurants, including renowned Harvest.
Both have a passion for local, sustainable produce, which starred on the menu at our ‘Garden Gastronomy’ dinner, enjoyed alfresco under a wisteria-laden pergola beside a blazing fire. As if we needed more ambience.
Sapwell and Moyle also used the heat here to cook a number of dishes, including pipis, steaming away while we sipped (you guessed it) champagne. All greens used in the degustation menu were from the gardens. Each dish was expertly matched by sommelier Seamus Brandt with vintages from the Le Grand Dame collection, from 1990 to 2012 – we were drinking Veuve that retails for between $300 and $3,000 per bottle. Brandt didn’t just pour – he shared his extensive knowledge of each cuvee, along with the history of the House of Clicquot.
In 2021, the hotel was a pop-up concept to gauge guest interest, prior to a permanent base in the near future, in a location yet to be announced – we heard rumours of a private island. A lucky few will have the opportunity to live the Veuve Clicquot lifestyle sometime soon. Get in fast to register your interest.