Keeping the dream alive in Wolgan Valley
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is welcoming local guests back to its resort and invites international visitors to begin creating a wishlist of unique experiences in its stunning bushland setting outside Sydney.
Resilience and renewal aren’t usually the first words one might associate with a luxury resort, but at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, they are not only relevant but a unique part of the experience for guests right now.
While the Australian bush is renowned for its unique flora and fauna, another of its characteristics is its resilience. Nowhere is this more evident than at Wolgan Valley, located in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains region that was affected by last summer’s unprecedented bushfire season. “At the moment, guests have an amazing opportunity to witness regeneration and it’s a positive, inspiring experience,” says the resort’s General Manager Tim Stanhope.
Thanks to the efforts of the NSW Rural Fire Service, the resort buildings – including the historic homestead surrounded by 40 private villas – remained untouched, as did much of the surrounding 2800 hectare (7000 acre) reserve.
Stanhope oversaw the resort’s second reopening of the year this month, following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Australia.
“Our opening weeks are all about welcoming back our loyal local clients and working with industry colleagues to tailor packages and unique experiences,” he says.
International business is focused on 2021, with the resort boasting many natural advantages which suit the current circumstances. “We’re an easy three-hour drive (or a 45 minute helicopter ride) from Sydney and each of our villas is freestanding, with its own fireplace and pool,” Stanhope explains, “which allows companies and their guests to be as connected or as private as they choose.”
Transfers, too, are a choose-your-own adventure – as you chopper in from Sydney for a bird’s-eye view of the Greater Blue Mountains. Alternatively, travel by eco-friendly Tesla and take in the picturesque towns of Katoomba, Leura and Mt Victoria, and famous sights of the region including the Three Sisters. All survived the bushfires unscathed, and many of the area’s best bushwalks and trails have reopened.
Along with the opportunity to explore the resort on foot, bicycle and horseback, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley’s signature experience for groups remains the Sundowner tour. Up to 40 guests explore the reserve and ancient Wollemi Pine grove in four-wheel drives at the prime time of day for spotting kangaroos, wombats, wallaroos and other wildlife, accompanied by expert field guides. For groups wanting to extend the nature experience, opportunities to make a meaningful contribution to the conservation program may include tree planting, wildlife surveys, habitat assessments and seed collection. The seed bank of native species collected in the program by previous guests is now being propagated and used as part of post-bushfire regeneration.
Stanhope is looking forward to working with clients once more on truly memorable bespoke experiences, citing the 2019 Luluemon ‘Immersion’ resort takeover as a recent highlight. “They used the local trails with their running ambassadors, practised yoga surrounded by nature and showcased their new collections at the spa. I think that they used every inch of our 7,000 acres!”
Focusing on regional produce and supporting local suppliers as they build their menus, wine lists and guest experiences forms part of the resort’s sustainable ethos – a commitment that has strengthened through the challenges of the past few months.
A former chef himself, Stanhope calls Wolgan Valley a chef’s dream, set in between the important food and wine regions of Orange, Mudgee and Hunter Valley and making the most of the resort’s own kitchen garden. “For groups, we do everything from gourmet lunches on the viewing decks to campfire dinners, and of course [there's] our Wolgan Dining Room and Country Kitchen.”
“Everything is executed beautifully, but the mood is relaxed,” he says.
It’s a statement that sums up not just dining at the resort, but the uniquely Australian approach to luxury and landscape that makes Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley the ideal antidote to the trials of 2020.
Good to know
2019 marked Wolgan Valley’s 10th consecutive year of Carbon Neutral accreditation.
3 hours’ drive from Sydney or a 45-minute helicopter ride.
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Ph: +612 6350 1800