How Astra Lodge in Falls Creek won best Australian ski hotel before it opened

If you've ever had the chance to enjoy the luxurious chalets of Chamonix or resorts of Rauris, then you will feel right at home  in Astra Lodge, Falls Creek's newest jewel in the crown.

The acute attention to detail for the smallest of comforts – heated balconies (!) and a magnesium pool to soak aching post-ski muscles – indicates how much owners Seumas Dawes and Rosie Seaton strived to build something to rival Europe's best alpine accommodation.

"Some of the best hotels in Austria are so good, are so inviting, that people always come back year after year and that's what we wanted to create for Australia," says Dawes.

Mission accomplished, as the property landed top spot as Australia's Best Ski Boutique Hotel at the 2016 World Ski Awards –before it had even officially opened.

A sophisticated offering

When Dawes and Seaton purchased the property in 2014, after acquiring the neighbouring Huski apartments and cafe in 2012, the plan was to introduce a lodge that gives guests a more sophisticated and inclusive experience.

"You've also got to give people something to do when they're not skiing – not every day is going to be perfect," explains Dawes.

When you're not on the slopes, Dawes and his wife Seaton have made sure that every comfort can be found down a flight of stairs or hidden behind a door at the end of the hallway.

The day spa – in high demand with guests from neighbouring villas and lodges – offers an array of treatments, including a barber. Then there's the games room which, while technically for kids, has an X-Box and well-stocked library of quality gaming to appeal to your inner lad.

Here's cheers

The cocktail bar is where the Astra comes into its own – deep leather chairs surrounded by exposed wood and stonework, carrying the rugged appeal of an old hunting lodge.


It's the ultimate spot to settle in with a decent whisky (or mulled wine on request) and let the evening unfurl with like-minded folk from nearby hotels, including MONA's David Walsh, who prefer the Astra's understated brand of luxury.

Although if you're after a more personalised experience, hidden behind one of the many doors is the wine cellar, stocked with Dawes' own personal collection of fine reds from around the world. Guests can book a private dining experience for two or small groups away from the other patrons.

Boot up

For diehards of the sport, the chance to book in time with Adalbert "Bert" Leibetseder is another one of the main attractions of the hotel.

A former racer and trainer himself, Leibetseder now operates Skimetrics, a world-leading boot service that utilises old-school shoemaking techniques and biomechanics to create personalised ski boots and inserts.

Tucked just behind the ski drying room, Leibetseder offers a holistic service that fixes bad habits your body makes to compensate for ill-fitting boots including pointers on posture.

Collaborative kitchen

But if that isn't enough to entice you to book a weekend away for some last minute powder then the announcement of a 'pop-up kitchen" in collaboration with acclaimed London restaurant Elystan Street just might.

Head Chef Toby Burrows – a former Falls Creek local – has flown out to stay at the property for two weeks until August 23 where he will be taking over Astra's Italian fine-dining restaurant, to create a series of special collaboration menu options.

As to what that might be, well the only way to find out is to go there and experience it for yourself.

The author was a guest of Astra Lodge.