Emirates One and Only, Wolgan Valley review, New South Wales: A perfect resort, for a price

Our rating

5 out of 5

THE PLACE

Emirates One and Only, Wolgan Valley, NSW

THE LOCATION

In the Greater Blue Mountains region set between the Gardens of Stone National Park and Wollemi National Park, the Wolgan Valley resort is is set on a 2800-hectare carbon-neutral conservancy. Transfer by helicopter from Sydney to the property 190 kilometres north-west of Sydney provides a once-in-lifetime view over the Blue Mountains, its dense bushland and ancient sandstone escarpments. It's the same aerial view that is said to have convinced Emirates executives looking for a site for an Australian resort that this valley, not on the short list of six possible sites, was the place.

Wolgan Valley has been managed by One&Only Resorts since 2015, and is the second Australian property next to Hayman Island in the luxury group. In 2014 it was named the best hotel in Australia by TripAdvisor. Impressive too are the Land Rover Defenders in Keswick Green that transport guests around the property.

THE SPACE

Overlooking the resort's pool area and in the middle distance 40 freestanding villas, the elevated homestead with wrapping verandah is a warm and solid gathering spot with sandstone walls, timber beamed ceilings, the highest wing-back chairs, stone fireplaces and deep leather couches. Correspondence between Banjo Paterson and Dorothea Mackellar from 1931 about the establishment of a writers' club is on display and wallabies and kangaroos graze on the grounds in front at dawn and dusk. Australiana has never looked this chic nor felt this comfortable.

THE ROOM

Much like the homestead, my one-bedroom heritage villa in a Federation-style of wood and stone is a space of extreme comfort with high four-poster bed, walk-in dressing room, double-sided fireplace, heated indoor pool and shower skylight for stargazing.

The enclosed verandah with rocking chair is a reminder that we're in the Australian bush. There's a leather label to hang on the door that simply says "Peace" but the only thing that's likely to disturb is the silence that can be deafening if you're used to the hum of a city.

THE FOOD

Mostly local and organic including Mandagery Creek Venison, Oberon line trout, olive oil from Rylstone and cheese from Jannei Goat Cheese Dairy. My stay coincides with the inaugural RM Williams weekend and the degustation dinner in the Wolgan Dining Room has a particularly Australian flavour with smoked kangaroo with baby beets, confit lamb shoulder and chocolate bark with wattle seed on the menu. Mulled wine in hand, an evening of storytelling next to the campfire by those who knew the legendary bushman is sublime. Williams' boots are as well known as the man and are still made in the Prospect factory in Adelaide. When it's time to retire to my villa, a staff member whisks me home in a golf buggy.

STEPPING OUT

Make that saddling up. Led by Terry Goodear, a man with possibly the best job title ever – head of heritage and heartland for RM Williams – we take a six-kilometre meander through eucalypt woodlands and around wombat holes with the resort's expert horsemen and women by our sides.

Otherwise hikes with specialist field guides to remote areas of the reserve can be arranged, with morning tea served mid-hike of course. There's also tennis, mountain biking and archery available.

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THE VERDICT

A property that owns its heritage and does so extremely well. While heading inland may feel counter-intuitive for lovers of the coast, the enveloping sandstone escarpments gives a water view a run for its money. An eye-popping stay rate it might be, but so too is the luxe experience.

ESSENTIALS

Heritage villas cost from $2400 a night and include breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, selected wine and beer and two on-site nature-based activities a day.I t's a 175 kilometre or 2½-3 hour drive from Sydney. See oneandonlyresorts.com The next RM Williams at Wolgan Valley weekend will be held in May 2017.

HIGHLIGHT

A massage in the day-spa and a quiet moment to watch the changing light on the cliffs.

LOWLIGHT

The isolation. Commit to a three-day weekend to allow for driving times to and from the property.

Jane Reddy stayed as a guest of Emirates One and Only Wolgan Valley.

See also: Australian hotel named at no.2 in world's best rankings

See also: 20 reasons to visit the Blue Mountains