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PREVIEW: review coming soon This ranch-meets-safari retreat in the Australian Blue Mountains makes the ideal back-to-nature add-on to your Sydney city break

Eco


Overall eco rating


PREVIEW: review coming soon, but here's what we know based on preliminary research. Ratings are provisional.

Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa takes a leaf out of the Shamwari and North Island books to fund the creation of a large nature reserve containing a fascinating and endangered ecosystem.  We’d say Wolgan Valley go a few steps further in the eco stakes by virtue of their location in Australia where there is a burgeoning environmental movement on hand to ensure the new construction was to a high standard and provide a supply chain offering green goods and services once opened.

As well as the terrific conservation work, the resort has won awards for their community and cultural work which enrich guests’ stays and the sustainability practices used during construction.  The accommodation includes renewable energy systems and water recycling to reduce resource consumption.

  • Protects and enhances a 6 square mile area of forest which includes a variety of habitats and rare flora and fauna
  • Home to a small grove of very rare endemic Wollemi Pines (<100 known to exist in the wild) - tree buffs liken their discovery to finding a living dinosaur
  • Sensitive construction for the lodge – uses 2% of land, no trees removed during construction,  recycled fence posts from 40km fences and fallen wood, majority of materials sourced within 100km
  • Contractors and suppliers for construction were local and followed careful procedures to avoid damaging the site
  • Services and goods, especially high quality food and drink, are readily sourced from the local community
  • Conducts education and community outreach work encouraging volunteering
  • Over 100 solar panels provide hot water for the resort’s 40 suites
  • Recent construction ensured buildings were insulated to a high level, has highly efficient lighting  and reduces cooling demand through built form
  • Old fashioned wind powered pumps are used to transfer water from the dam to the resort
  • Rainwater collection and water recycling

People

Wolgan Valley undertakes some community outreach work and has connections going back to construction where the local community of artists were employed to help with interior décor.  The area is relatively wealthy though and the majority of outreach work has an ecological rather than social emphasis.

  • Contractors and suppliers for construction were local
  • Services and goods, especially high quality food and drink, are also readily sourced from the local community
  • Conducts education and community outreach work encouraging volunteering

Animals & nature

Wolgan Valley’s existence is intertwined with preserving and developing the natural environment – they describe themselves as a conservation-based resort and have won awards for their efforts in conservation, regeneration and protection of the natural environment.

PETA assessment of cruelty free credentials of cleaning products and toiletries to come.

  • Protects and enhances a 6 square mile area of forest which includes a variety of habitats and rare flora and fauna
  • Home to a small grove of very rare Wollemi Pines (<100 known to exist in the wild)
  • Undertaking conservation activity and research with the aim of developing a large area protected from feral cats and alien foxes with wildife corridors between 2 National Parks and a World Heritage Area (a smaller pilot project covering 3% of the estate is in place)
  • Removed 40km of barbed wire fence which can snare and injure animals
  • Funding a programme of flora rehabilitation and removal of invasive plants - have planted 175,000 trees
  • Arrange further tree planting (~3,000pa) with local voluntary groups
  • ‘Toolbox training’ for all contractors during construction on avoided damage to flora and fauna within the site
  • Construction vehicles washed down prior to entering site to avoid seed contamination

Environment & buildings

Their location in a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sandwiched between 2 National Parks meant that Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa’s had to be fully aware of their environmental responsibilities and extra care was taken to get the design right and to manage the construction.   The sustainable features and green technologies that were incorporated ensure Wolgan Valley is about as green as they come.

  • Over 100 solar panels provide hot water for the resort’s 40 suites
  • Recent construction ensured buildings were insulated to a high level and aims to reduce cooling demand through built form
  • Old fashioned wind powered pumps are used to transfer water from the dam to the resort
  • Energy efficient lighting throughout
  • Rainwater collection
  • Sensitive construction – uses 2% of land, no trees removed during construction,  recycled fence posts from 40km fences and fallen wood, majority of materials sourced within 100km
  • Purchasing renewable electricity will help drive some investment in renewables although this can be a token gesture
  • Carbon footprinting via CarbonZero will help Wolgan Valley understand their business
  • Local procurement reduces food miles – seasonal purchasing helped by being within the ‘Sydney food bowl’ allows 95% of foodstuff to be purchased from within 100 miles

  • The hotel does not have any official green accreditation for its policies and achievements (although the external carbon footprinting work will have been informative)
  • Purchasing renewable energy is good but can be a token gesture – we prefer to see hotels demonstrating a commitment to drive increase in renewable electricity by actively developing generation infrastructure

Reviewed by Tim Starley-Grainger


Luxury


Overall luxury rating*


PREVIEW: expert review coming soon, but here's a taster. Ratings are provisional.

Head to this award-winning mega-luxury ranch resort in the Blue Mountains, three hours from Sydney, for adventure and wildlife spotting

The scene

Three hours from Sydney in the Blue Mountains, this back-country break is perfect for wannabe cowboys and cowgirls who don’t want to rough it when they’re not roaming the range.

  • In the Blue Mountains, making for an easy add-on to a Sydney city break
  • In the midst of two national parks
  • With its own private reserve, making it feel genuinely remote and exclusive
  • Horse riding, nature walks, mountain biking, wildlife safaris – never a dull moment
  • Best for couples aged 25 to 55
  • Best for teen families

  • Remote – you’ll need a car to get here
  • Not great for young families (children under 8 discouraged) and business trips (it's four hours from the nearest major city)

The style

Designed as an Australian Federation homestead, all natural wood and stone, each of the 40 suites comes with its own plunge pool, romantic open fireplace and verandah.

  • Australian Federation style decor, updated for modern tastes with clean lines and neutral, earthy tones
  • Open stone-flag fireplace, perfect for cosying up next to at night as the mountain air gets chilly

  • At seven metres long, the suite’s pools aren’t long enough for laps

The facilities

Outdoor pursuits abound here, with a spa to soak away those muscle aches. This is luxury adventure, served up with Australian flair.

  • Horse riding, nature walks, wildlife safaris, mountain biking and historical tours – all on site, and with two inclusive nature activities for every night of your stay
  • Spa uses cult beauty brands Sodashi and Babor
  • Spa has sauna, steam room and six treatment rooms, each with its own Japanese soaking tub
  • Two tennis courts
  • Gym with floor-to-ceiling windows for taking in the views while you work out
  • 25-metre outdoor heated swimming pool
  • Whirlpool
  • Two restaurants, plus an indoor-outdoor lounge
  • Full board – breakfast, lunch, dinner – included with all rooms

  • The food might not be to your taste, but as it’s all-inclusive and remote, you’ll still probably eat all your meals here

We love

  • Australian ranch-meets-safari feel
  • Horse riding in the reserve

You might not love

  • Children under 8 are discouraged

Reviewed by Jill Starley-Grainger


Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

2600 Wolgan Road, Wolgan Valley, Lithgow, New South Wales 2790

Australia
+61 2 9290 9733

Standard room rates from AU$1,950

Eco

Luxury*

"The bespoke, modern take on the traditional Aussie cattle station is the kind of place where Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman would fall in love if Baz Luhrmann’s Australia were set in the 21st century. But you don’t have to go all the way to the Northern Territory to find this ranch. Wolgan is just three hours, as the jabiru stork flies, from Sydney" Daily Telegraph

"Charles Darwin passed through Wolgan Valley in 1836, and it’s tempting to believe that this $112 million conservation-focused resort in a 4,000-acre nature reserve would impress even him. The Greater Blue Mountains Area is a nature-lover’s paradise of eucalyptus forests, jagged sandstone outcrops, ancient flora, and isolated marsupials" Conde Nast Traveler