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High Country Kasbah – Panoramia Villas

Desperate for respite from city peak traffic and the concrete maze, I could not have been more excited checking in to the Panoramia Villas, the new project born of the success of Red Ramia Trading and Café Fez. Only four kilometres from the centre of Myrtleford in North East Victoria, these two villas feature, as I happily discovered, interiors exquisitely furnished down to the last plush detail with individual pieces selected by the Ramia family on their purpose-driven globetrotting buying trips. Each villa is intriguingly named for the origin of its décor, the fascination of Marrakesh and Jodhpur.

Designed in the 50s modernist style of angled roof lines and crazy-paved stone fascia feature-wall exteriors, with interior fireplace surrounds to match, they’re updated in such a way as to channel the chic of that decade. No noughties (2000s) negativity here! The villas can’t help but charm, harking back as they do to a bygone era of Australian travel. The undercover drive-through carport clearly references 50s motel design, taking you a step back in time to when family driving holidays in the shiny new Holden motor car were the epitome of modern luxury. Today, however, you’re more likely to find travel-savvy rail trail cyclists parking their bikes to enjoy a well-earned rest, or discerning minds complementing their couples-only special occasion in luxuriously accommodated style.

The Ramias have thought long and hard about providing a top quality experience for their guests.

Panoramia Villas, conveniently close to the Great Alpine Road on the family’s rural property, are deceptively a pigeon pair from the outside but when you step inside each tells a unique tale. Nevertheless, each apartment exhibits the same welcoming, warm interior design that doesn’t crowd in on you, super-styled in a backdrop of modern fittings and sleek wooden joinery. Individual arabesque-design tiled feature walls in each kitchen wow you with bold geometric patterns that seductively introduce the Middle Eastern flair for colour and design or the flamboyant Indian love of colour and intricacy.

Enormous carved wooden-framed keyhole mirrors flood the bedrooms with light-filled animation. The eye-catching contrast of the exotic bazaar and the contemporary modern demonstrates just how successfully the eclectic is able to unite under a creative talented eye.

And brilliantly, there’s none of this wishfully eying the decor and knowing you can’t take it home with you.

‘If you fancy any object or furnishing, you can pick it up at the Red Ramia shop on the main street of Myrtleford after or during your stay,’ says Minette, who looks after marketing for the family business. Reminiscent of a basketfulful of welcoming fruit in a different guise are the complimentary $20 gift voucher for Red Ramia Trading and the $20 breakfast voucher for Café Fez. That’s a super deal if you choose to have breakfast at the café, where you are guaranteed delicious meals, good service and site-seeing tips gratis. (The villas, however, have all you need to cook for yourself if you wish.)

The villas each feature a spacious living area and a king-sized bedroom with a king bed that can convert to two singles if so desired. As you would expect from accommodation of this calibre, each villa comes with a fully equipped kitchen, a washing machine and drying rack, DVD player, full HD LCD Blue Ray 3D Smart TV, mp3 player and wifi. If you can bear to tear yourself away from these abundant indoor amenities a gas Weber BBQ stands outside in the fresh air of the balcony alongside the outdoor table and chairs.

Technologically, the villas boast a luxurious getaway stash of goodies to fulfill your every dream. The vagaries of stifling heat or a chill night can be banished courtesy of the split system air conditioner in the lounge and the Nectre wood fire heater (which comes with a neverending supply of firewood right outside the door). Cuddle up and settle in for the night ahead, red wine in hand and sweet excitement mounting in the possibilities of the coming day.

The Ramias have thought long and hard about providing a top quality experience for their guests. Each time I opened a cupboard there was an unexpected little extra waiting to delight me. For example, organic Noah’s juices, Carmen’s muesli bars and Sacred Life Australian botanical toiletries that smelt like heaven and sent me into a state of total relaxation.

The Ramia family aren’t content with providing accommodation only for couples; their aim is to build two further villas specifically for groups or two couples. These villas will be decorated in Japanese and Chinese themes and will include two equal-sized king bedrooms with their own ensuites leading to a shared kitchen and spacious open-plan living space. Also to come is the adventure track, where from your back door you can surround yourself in the beautiful scenery outdoors and stroll for kilometres observing the plentiful wildlife. But for now, the hillside wraps around the buildings creating a natural amphitheatre in that stunning environment, transporting you instantly into holiday mode.

Waking up to the full panoramic view of the Ovens Valley through the floor to ceiling windows of the lounge room and watching the clouds rolling in to the valley below was a delectable treat, as was sipping my brewed cup of coffee made using the Café Fez freshly ground organic coffee and plunger. The toughest decision you’ll need to make all day is, seriously, whether to have a steaming hot shower overlooking the valley or to take a contemplative bath with an equally picturesque view.

And let it be said, the ‘bath in the bedroom’ look succeeds particularly well here. It may be missing asses’ milk for the bath or someone on hand to peel your grapes, but its tiled splendour is simply meant to be.

I would have been content just to lounge about in comfort, enjoying the  meditative views of the Ovens Valley from my balcony, but curiosity got the better of me as I read a copy of the thoughtfully provided itinerary. Before long I was immersed in suggested excursions to various wineries, restaurants and cafés, as well as attractions, festivals, markets and things to do in the local area. Thus it was I became explorer for the day, setting out on a full day of activities.

‘There is room for more luxury accommodation in Myrtleford,’ says Minette. ‘The town is really coming of age and has so much to offer; it’s buzzing. New shops and cafés are opening and more are on the way. Bright has been looking to us for inspiration.’

Even after one night I felt lighter, happier and totally refreshed. A smashing result, was my conclusion.

124 Clemens Lane, Myrtleford, Victoria
Tel 0418 521 944
www.panoramiavillas.com.au