Traveller: Lisa Perkovic
Room: One-bedroom lake view villa
Address: 42 Bunker Bay Road, Naturaliste, WA
Date: November 2020
Best for: The Pullman Bunker Bay Resort brings the beach resort to the bush in the kind of style that puts it on the map for locals and internationals alike.
Western Australia’s southwest coast is more synonymous with beach houses than beach-front resorts, but the Pullman Bunker Bay has made a name for itself as a top-notch spot to spend your summer holidays in style.
The Signature factor
When the hardest decision facing your day is whether to swim in the pool or hop in the ocean, you know you’re onto something good. At the Pullman, you’ve got an infinity pool and one of the world’s best beaches to choose between – why not dive in to both? From the resort, a private walkway through bushland to Bunker Bay takes about two minutes to navigate, depositing you into the middle of a pristine patch of Western Australian coastland. Bunker Bay is tucked to the east of the tip of Cape Naturaliste, so aside from a few beach homes, there’s just sand, surf and bushland – you’ll have the place largely to yourself.
Many resort guests don’t make it this far, as there’s a very glamorous infinity pool calling your name. The pool looks out across lush grounds, which are refreshingly dotted with native trees and shrubs, so you can soak up the view while you swim.
It’s bush meets beach with all the trappings of a sprawling resort at the Pullman Bunker Bay Resort. Unlike other high-end seaside hotels, the property’s 150 villas are arrayed around the central lodge-like restaurant and pool area rather than the sand. Tucked between native trees and natural gardens, the one- to three-bedroom accommodations overlook a manmade lake or bushland. Not only does this preserve the coastline, it gives the property the feel of a boutique retreat rather than big brand-name resort.
It would be impossible to feel crowded on the deck of a one-bedroom lake villa, watching ducklings pass by and the occasional guest meander across a bridge to the beach path. The only spot you may fight for a seat is the infinity pool, which is hot property after breakfast; by noon, most guests have headed off to the Margaret River on wine tours or for lunch.
When it comes to making an entrance, the Pullman certainly does that. Driving through Dunsborough, you quickly leave quiet beachside suburbs behind, skirting the edge of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park before heading into bushland towards the ocean. The Pullman’s arched entryway sets the scene for architecture that makes a statement through a raw, natural aesthetic – hewn bricks, vaulted ceilings and exposed beams are features. And nature is right on your doorstep, with the entrance looking straight through to the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows framing the Indian Ocean beyond. It’s also worth noting that Accor’s new ALLSAFE hygiene program makes an appearance, popping up as decals on the floor at check-in, cleaning confirmation stickers and hand sanitiser stations throughout the property.
The Pullman’s one-bedroom lake villas make holidaymaking easy, with full-size fridges, stove top, oven and all the mod cons. COVID-19 precautions have changed the way the kitchens are stocked, but despite the staff warning that they’ve gone light on utensils and serving dishes, we don’t find anything missing and are able to whip up a cheese plate for afternoon antipasti on our deck each night with no problems. A spa bath is a nice touch for a pre-dinner soak, and in the evening we open up the screen doors to enjoy a breeze and the dulcet tones of frogs, birds and insects.
All lake villas have the best views on the property and are closest to the beach, but the two- and three-bedroom villas, set just back from the water, have the added advantage of their own courtyards surrounded by bushland, providing extra privacy from the rest of the resort. High cathedral ceilings, dramatic archways and limestone walls add plenty of oomph.
On my plate
Other Side of the Moon sounds like a poem, but it’s actually a surf break just down the road from the Pullman, and the namesake for resort’s restaurant. Breakfast, lunch and dinner take place in this split-level space; the upper half is transformed into a buffet for breakfast and a la carte for lunch. During the day, the outdoor terrace is a prime dining position, looking down on the pool and the ocean beyond.
Evenings, meanwhile, roll from Social Hour (3-5pm) through to dinner, at which point local produce steals the show in impeccable meals. We dine on generous serves of confit Linley Valley pork belly, Manjimup cauliflower fritters, Margaret River wagyu fillet and Mount Barker chicken. Desserts show off the skills of resident French pastry chef Romain Lassiaille, who seems to have embraced Australian life with gusto – a chocolate mousse with macadamia bites and local raspberries also comes with a kangaroo-shaped shortbread biscuit that isn’t spared as we devour every piece.
I wish I could take home…
At the gateway to the Margaret River wine region, it’s great to see the wine list is well stocked with local drops, from Yallingup through to the Great Southern. If I could pack up the red wines and put them in my ack back home, I’d be very happy. A consolation prize is trying vintages from a few different wineries, and being close enough to drive down to their cellar doors the next day if there’s one that particularly excites.
Vie Spa will have you buffed up and blissed out in no time. Sitting between reception and the tennis courts, it’s a little pocket of pampering beloved by brides getting ready for their big day, babymooners and anymore needing some downtime. Book in for facials, massages and mani-pedis, but if you want to splurge, try the 90-minute ‘White Flannel Flower’ treatment, using the native white flower known for its hydration properties.
Between activities on the beach and in the pool, you’ll be kept busy. But for there’s also the tennis courts (free of charge), gym and walking tracks to help you work up an appetite. The barbecue areas and full-sized kitchens do encourage self-catering, so staying in is often the name of the game.
World-class beaches, wineries, coastal walking tracks, caves – they’re all on your doorstep. A 10-minute drive away is the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, worth a quick photo stop and a handy spot to dip your feet into the famous Cape to Cape walking track. Spend a few hours wandering along boardwalks and well-managed coastal tracks out to Sugarloaf Rock lookouts, before returning to the Pullman for a well-deserved dip.
As one of the few five-star resorts in this part of Western Australian, the Pullman has plenty of gongs to its name – for both the accommodation and the restaurant.
Let the early birds dine at the breakfast buffet first. When you’re eating after the rush or on quiet days, the restaurant will whip you up eggs to your liking and even bring out fluffy, fresh pancakes if you ask nicely.
Pool lounge chairs get snapped up quickly, but there’s no full time pool staff on call to remove used towels once guests have left, so you’ll need to ask a fellow guest if the chair is vacant.
Guests can enjoy the a la carte lunch menu by the pool, but when you’re having a day of doing not much at all by the water, there’s something about a burger and chips plus a dip that hits the spot better than a gourmet dish.
Whether you’re looking for a base to explore the South West’s award winning wineries, or are after a fly-and-flop beach holiday, the Pullman is perfectly positioned to offer you a little bit of everything this part of the world has to offer.
Where to find Pullman Bunker Bay Resort
Three hours south of Perth, the Pullman is almost at the end of the road when you head to Cape Naturaliste. Stop for supplies in Dunsborough, only 10 minutes out from the resort.