Weekend Away: Panoramia Villas, Myrtleford

Sue Wallace finds a delectable taste of Marrakesh at MYRTLEFORD.

THE SETTING

If you have popped into Myrtleford's intriguing Red Ramia Trading, an emporium filled with treasures, you can be confident that the latest venture by the family behind Red Ramia will feature a touch of the exotic. Two new, freestanding, luxury one-bedroom Panoramia Villas named Marrakesh and Jodhpur are filled with authentic finds from Morocco and India. Nestled on a hillside, five minutes' drive from Myrtleford, both villas have scenic views overlooking the stunning Ovens Valley, complete with snow-capped mountains in winter.

THE SPACE

Step through the doors of the tastefully furnished Marrakesh Villa and you are immersed in attractive Moroccan decor, with vibrant ceramic tiles, mirrors and paintings that you could find in a grand bazaar. The stunning views from the villa's floor to ceiling windows and deck soothe the soul.

THE KIT

It doesn't take long to settle into the open- plan living area with its great sense of space. The large bedroom with quality linen has a king-size bed that can be converted to a twin and a full bath with rural views. A separate bathroom has a shower and features Moroccan tiles and Sacred Life Australian botanic toiletries. The combined kitchen and living area has two armchairs strategically placed for the views and a cosy-up beside the stone fireplace (neatly stacked wood, also a split system).

There is a big TV and music entertainment system and you can watch from the bedroom.

The villa's fully equipped kitchen has a gas hob and is so well equipped you could easily whip up a Moroccan feast. There is also a washing machine and dryer.

Both villas have disabled access and undercover parking.

COMFORT FACTOR

This is the type of place where you instantly unwind. Just don't be surprised if a trip to Morocco pops up on your bucket list.

THE FOOD

Myrtleford to Morocco - who would have thought? We dine at Cafe Fez, housed in Red Ramia Trading's building, where the authentic Middle Eastern menu includes more than 30 teas. The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, and dinner on Friday evenings. Start with an Angry martini made with vodka, fresh coriander and basil, green chilli and five spices, then enjoy a Fez mezzo plate, followed by a Moroccan fish tagine.

We also try the town's new Bastoni Pizzeria, and dine on a tasty pumpkin and rocket pizza, finishing with a dessert pizza of apple, cinnamon and ice-cream. Bastoni is garnered a well-deserved following.

If you don't feel like moving from your villa stay, you can fire up the gas barbecue on the deck. The kitchen has freshly ground Coffee Company plunger coffee, Tea Leaves' range of premium selection teas, Noah's juices and tasty granola bars.

WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR

We enjoy a winery hop and drop into Boynton's Feathertop Winery at Porepunkah for a tasting and deli plate. Then we visit Gapsted Wines to try its latest offerings. Myrtleford is a great location for a short break in North East Victoria. Lake Buffalo is a 15-minute drive away; Bright, Beechworth, Yackandandah and Milawa are each within a 20- 25 minute drive. For skiers it's about a 90-minute drive to the slopes of Mount Hotham and Falls Creek.

If you love cycling, pack your bike gear and follow the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, stopping at restaurants and cafes as you go. After so much dining and wining, we stride out for a 90-minute riverside walk on the Myrtleford Loop Trail in winter sunshine.

THE VERDICT

An enchanting villa where you are transported to another world and don't need a passport or plane ticket.

HOW TO GET THERE

Panoramia Villas are about a five-minute drive from Myrtleford, which in turn is about a 3½ hour drive from Melbourne via the Hume Freeway.

ESSENTIALS

Panoramia Villas, 124 Clemens Lane, Myrtleford, are priced from $300 a night, two-night minimum stay. The price includes a $20 voucher for breakfast at Fez Cafe and a $20 shopping voucher for Red Ramia Trading. Phone 0418 521 944, see panoramiavillas.com.au.

The writer stayed at her own expense.

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