Mantra Lorne, review: An act of patriotism

Read our writer's views on this property below

On Australia Day, Nicole Bittar finds much to celebrate on the Great Ocean Road.

Croquet or lawn tennis, followed by a gin and tonic at sunset, anyone?

The manicured grounds of the sprawling Mantra Erskine Beach Resort evoke Brideshead Revisited grandeur, although guest attire of boardshorts and designer thongs is decidedly Antipodean.

And we are seaside at Lorne, the Bellarine Bondi, on a near-perfect Australia Day, that quintessential celebration of living in the lucky country at summer's peak.

Our first-floor apartment in the Otway wing overlooks a leafy riverside camping ground. Lodgings are light-filled and small but perfectly formed at first glance. Closer inspection reveals the need for a thorough pre-check-in clean.

There are floating floor boards in the foyer, kitchen and dining room, with a central square of slate-coloured carpet in the living room.

A flat-screen TV with cable channels and DVD player provide viewing options.

White wooden shutters and quality drapes dress the windows and there are downlights and a contemporary floor lamp.

The CaesarStone kitchen with Smeg oven and dishwasher, concealed fridge, chrome microwave and blond wood four-seat setting in the dining room complete the picture.

But what use are mod cons when a request for a cutting board falls on deaf ears until my repeat call almost two hours later?

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At least the queen bedroom and slate-floored spa bathroom with sandy tiles and white stone vanity induces a feeling of sanctuary.

A built-in desk comes complete with a view of the tennis courts and includes user-pays wireless broadband access.

From the bedroom, a sliding door leads to the slate balcony with glass-top table and four white fabric-and-chrome chairs past their prime.

A second TV and reverse-cycle airconditioning are in another living zone.

Back in the elegant lobby, there are tones of burgundy and gold and a view of the palatial heated pool, spa, and gym.

Framed historic photographs of Lorne, featuring grand streets and horse-drawn carriages overloaded with passengers, line the walls.

Many accommodation wings are named in honour of seafaring vessels that transported cargo along the treacherous coastline before the Great Ocean Road opened in 1924.

The heritage-listed Erskine Guest House sets the scene for the family-friendly Mantra, the only beachfront resort in town.

The 277 hotel, studio rooms and one- and two-bedroom apartments are fully booked.

The dinner menu at Brasserie 144 doesn't grab us or perhaps the formality of the well-appointed restaurant stifles our relaxed summer mood.

And eight-year-old Jude is unimpressed that Garfield's favourite food is listed on the children's menu as spaghetti bolognaise, when everybody knows it's lasagne.

Room service, which replicates the dinner-time menu, attracts a $5 delivery fee.

We venture further afield for our catch of the day. Perched at the foot of the pier on the water's edge, is the Lorne Pier Restaurant.

We share a giant Apollo Bay cray with a crisp sauvignon blanc.

For breakfast at the Brasserie we collectively sample fresh fruit salad, house-blended raspberry yoghurt, bottled apple juice, peppermint tea, Coco Pops, pancakes with Canadian maple syrup, chipolatas, bacon and scrambled eggs.

Impromptu cricket games and scooter races with newfound resort buddies are memories in the making for our son.

We secure a 4pm checkout for $40 and farewell Lorne with a dip at the beach.

VISITORS' BOOK

Address Mountjoy Parade, Lorne.

Bookings Phone 5228 9777, see mantraerskinebeachresort.com.au.

How much $249 a night for one-bedroom apartment, peak season, with car park. Does not include breakfast.

Summary Family, function and surfer dude-friendly, the Mantra covers all bases. Sprawling grounds inspire fitness, fun and socialisation.

Getting there A two-hour jaunt across the West Gate Bridge, down the M1, and along the Great Ocean Road. Conversely, take the Deans Marsh Road exit after Geelong, past Winchelsea, to shave half an hour off travel time.

Verdict 17

The score: 19-20 excellent; 17-18 great; 15-16 good; 13-14 comfortable.

All weekends away are conducted anonymously and paid for by Traveller.