Cape Schanck Lighthouse sits at the tip of the Mornington Peninsula National Park, keeping a slowly turning glass eye on the wind-battered seas. But there's a new iconic building on the cape with the arrival of the sinuously beautiful RACV Cape Schanck resort, its rust-red "beehives" giving most visitors a similar view to that of the lighthouse keeper.
The resort allows you to visit the black-rock coast, home to the lighthouse, explore the neighbouring beachside towns of Rosebud and Flinders, or hit off on the 18-hole golf course surrounding the stay, designed by Trent Jones Senior.
Rumour has it there is a winery or two down this way, too.
The resort also has a deal with Peninsula Hot Springs so you can delve into the region's famous warm waters.
The resort may look like a giant fidget spinner from above but this curvaceous design allows guests to benefit from a 180-degree view of the coast; one side and you overlook Port Phillip Bay and a squiggle of Melbourne's CBD on the horizon, the other side and you peer out to the wilds of Bass Strait.
Inside, the Lighthouse Bar acts as the social meet space with comfy lounges arranged to take advantage of the view. A floor below is a huge swimming pool, mega-workout space and The One spa with spacious treatment rooms and a hammam-style bathing room.
There is a family focus too with kids games rooms and a huge outdoor kids play area next to the golf course.
My Superior Ocean Room is on the Port Phillip side, muted browns and greys dominate and there is a small desk and chairs by the window. There is also a balcony table and chairs because the view's the thing here.
The bathroom is the spacious surprise with loads or room for a tub, double-wide sink and shower built for two (or three, or four!)
The compendium is all on the TV and offers walks, wildlife tips and the up-to-date menu from the in-house dining options.
Exec chef Josh Pelham has worked with George Calombaris and Scott Pickett and staff from Hellenic Republic and the like have followed him down south. The signature restaurant, The Cape, sees Pelham pack the peninsula onto a plate with seasonal produce and a massive winy-be-the-glass list that sees locals front and centre.
Jumpstart your tastebuds with a citrus-cured ocean trout with daikon radish, avocado, finger lime and shiso; or go 50 shades of green with a parsley risotto with aged pecorino cheese, broad beans, sugar snap peas and mint. Dessert might be a tangy goats cheesecake from nearby Main Ridge with blueberry meringue and sorbet, rosemary and peninsula honey.
The staff are so cheery they border on theatrical, and the plating is modern and clean.
If you are there for a few nights try the casual Italian, Mantellina, for stone-baked pizzas and grab-and-go golfing lunches. And the Lighthouse Bar makes a mean Corpse Reviver #2.
Family-run distillery Bass and Flinders is a short drive from the resort (and is soon to move to Dromana industrial estate) and you can find their gin tasting flights in the Lighthouse Bar.
But a visit to the distillery means you can check out the hardest working still on the peninsula, a modest little copper number that produces the signature Ochra, an aged grape spirit in the Cognac style made from local chardonnay grapes. This smooth drop – which made the perfect end to my meal at The Cape – is aged five years and is made from scratch with a load of love.
It also has a feistier younger sibling in Angry Ant gin, flavoured with secreted pheromones from a native ant (iridomyrex purpureus or meat ant) as well as Indigenous botanicals.
This is the signature property for RACV Resorts and the bold architecture and top-notch dining make it a great place from which to strike out into the Mornington Peninsula.
RACV Cape Schanck Resort, Trent Jones Dr, Cape Schanck. Doubles from $304 per night for non-members and member rates are from $228 per night; racv.com.au
The first sight of the building staring down the elements of Bass Strait.
There is currently no access to the beach from the resort, but this is being fixed with a walking track on the way.
Paul Chai was a guest of RACV Cape Schanck Resort