Right on the main street of Marysville, which sits at the base of Victoria's alpine region, this brand new Vibe is an easy drive from Melbourne. Within a short walk of the hotel you have cafe Fraga's (try the Fraga burger), a new million-dollar kids' playground with hidden dinosaur skeletons and flying foxes and the quirky wonderland of Bruno's Art and Sculpture Garden (brunosart.com). Marysville has been around since the 1860s but was decimated by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. It has regenerated into one of the region's newest towns, while still maintaining its country charm.
The alpine-style buildings and peaked roofs that make up the Vibe are connected by suspended walkways and it has a heated pool and spa at the centre of the complex. The conference facilities take up one wing, and Radius restaurant sits on the ground floor of the middle building. The dark-brown tones of the hallways and rooms suit the hotel's forest surrounds and the huge framed photographs – by local snapper Donovan Wilson of Mystic Mountain photography – document the beauty of the nearby bush both pre- and post-Black Saturday. Rooms are simply but tastefully decorated with soft furnishings in forest greens and blues.
The 101 rooms are new and smartly turned out with comfortable couches perfectly positioned to take in the tree-lined view, plasma screen for those not inclined to stare at nature, and a mini-bar with local wines if you fancy a tipple. As it is a near-alpine retreat, individually controlled airconditioning keeps things cosy.
Free Wi-Fi for up to four devices with a 100MB download limit. It's a simple setup here, done well, with the standard hair dryer, iron and ironing board and an iPod dock. For the sports-minded, there is a tennis court and gym, and the hotel offers bikes to explore the area. The Vibe does a steady trade in conferences and offers several convertible spaces for up to 480 people. Though it is easy to park on the street, there is ample parking at the rear of the hotel.
Radius Bar & Grill takes a specific approach to local sourcing, promising that 85 per cent of the produce is sourced from suppliers within a 100-kilometre radius of the venue. These fresh ingredients are then turned into simple share plates from the central wood-fired oven: a cured Buxton trout for starters or a fall-apart beef short rib with a maple and pink peppercorn glaze, while a side of Dobson's duck fat roast potatoes or wood-fired broccoli and anchovy butter is the perfect fare for a hotel at the start of the ski slopes. Breakfast is served in the Radius Cafe opposite and offers eggs cooked to order and the usual hotel spread.
Wander pedestrian-friendly Marysville and explore the visitor centre, which has great information on walks such as Steavenson Falls, or the appropriately named Beauty Spot.
Ten minutes in the car and you discover the neighbouring town of Buxton with the family-run Buxton Ridge Winery (buxtonridge.com) and it's killer cheese platter and Australia's oldest trout farm, Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm (buxtontrout.com.au) where the previous evening's fish course came from. If you stay for more than one night, have dinner at the Black Spur Inn (the inn offers a shuttle bus service to the hotel).
HOW TO GET THERE
Marysville is about 1½ hours north-east of Melbourne. The Vibe Hotel is one of the first things you see when you enter Marysville.
Marysville has a strong sense of community, having been through the horrors of Black Saturday and, considering the Vibe is a chain, it has adopted this community spirit through its use of local artists, produce and wines. While you may not want to linger in the rooms, they are perfect for a retreat from an active day walking and exploring. Radius is a sparely decorated space but it's open kitchen and wood-fired oven give it charm. Marysville and surrounds feel much further from Melbourne than they are and you leave feeling relaxed.
Doubles start from $159 (opening special tilt end of May). Vibe Hotel Marysville; 32-34 Murchison Street, Marysville, Victoria; Phone 03 5957 7700; see tfehotels.com
Despite its newness, a great fit within a tight-knit community.
Breakfast service could use some streamlining.
The writer was a guest of Vibe Hotel Marysville.