Victorians are well-versed in the stories of the Mornington Peninsula, with its scenic drives and quaint beach towns lined with Norfolk pines. Sorrento is one of those towns, and it could be a good time to revisit it, as local icon ‘The Conti’ unveils a sophisticated transformation.
As part of The Continental Sorrento precinct, the InterContinental Sorrento Mornington Peninsula promises to be promises to become a beacon of glamour in the region when it reopens in Autumn (an exact date is yet to be revealed). For those who can’t wait, the hotel’s dining options will set their tables from late March.
Just over 90 minutes from Melbourne, the heritage-listed limestone building is set in an elevated vantage only a short stroll from Sorrento’s famous long jetty and white sand beaches.
Hotel Continental first opened in 1875 and was the brainchild of actor, philanthropist and businessman, George Coppin, who was regarded as the ‘Father of the Theatre’ in Victoria.
Coppin’s vision was to create a tourism heart for the Peninsula, where visitors and Melburnians could enjoy a premium resort experience in, what was then, only a few hours from the city. The hotel sparked a local industry that included the steamboat ferry system transporting visitors to the property.
The historic property has been given a new lease on life, with precinct architects and designers Woods Bagot behind its rejuvenation. It also signals a rise in the standard of hotels outside the capital cities, as the second InterContinental property to launch in regional Australia, after InterContinental Hayman Island Resort arrived on the scene in 2019.
Even with significant upgrades to the building, there’s one aspect that thankfully remains unchanged: its sweeping views of Port Phillip Bay.
The InterContinental will encompass 108 beautifully styled guest rooms, including Standard Rooms within the original limestone structure that overlook Riley Lane and Sorrento town, as well as Executive Rooms and Suites featuring terraces angled to offer an outlook of the sea.
In addition, there’s also the sprawling Aurora bathhouse wellness centre, and a guest-exclusive pool deck with sun-soaking lounges and plush ocean-view cabana inspired by Miami.
Staying true to its roots as a destination for social gatherings, The Conti now features multiple food and dining options created in collaboration by seasoned publican Craig Shearer and Melbourne restaurateur Scott Pickett (Chancery Lane, Longrain).
There’s The Atrium, a green-house style venue set beneath a soaring glass ceiling; the moody Coppins Lounge lounge; and the nocturnal speakeasy Barlow, serving up delicious drinks, luxe bar snacks and live entertainment including DJ’s and touring artists.
Signature seafood Restaurant Audrey’s – named after Chef Pickett’s grandmother, who inspired him to cook – will feature an array of local seafood on the marble raw bar, along with a contemporary mix of dishes inspired by the sea, paired with a sensational wine list.
Not to be overlooked, The Conti’s public bar, light-filled beer garden and al fresco dining promenade all feature a menu Pickett describes as ‘traditional pub fare with a twist’.