Read our writer's views on this property below
Kate Cox pursues inner peace in the Southern Highlands.
Bundanoon is a sleepy, super-green hamlet in the Southern Highlands. There's a pottery place, a couple of cafes and a smattering of real estate agents and gift shops. But it's the surrounds that appeal the most - rolling hills, walks in Morton National Park and activities including horse riding and golf.
I was worried about the motto of Solar Springs Health Retreat: "Seriously Healthy." Would I be subjected to mung beans for breakfast and group trust exercises over dinner? I needn't have stressed. There is coffee for breakfast and wine with dinner.
Over 24 years, Solar Springs - perched atop Bundanoon overlooking the national park - has managed to get a pretty slick operation happening. Besides the stunning setting, it's all about the experts on site. It's a one-stop shop of wellness, with a naturopath, fitness trainer, reflexologist, iridologist, nutritionist, massage and beauty therapists and life coach. As a result, it's full of (mostly) stressed-out (almost always) women.
When I stay there's a young lady on stress leave from work, quite a few health professionals who are sick from caring for others all the time, a couple of mothers and daughters taking time out to connect, other mums getting a break from the kids, and several groups of friends taking "me time" together, reading, strolling in the expansive grounds or jumping from pool to spa to sauna.
Often, they are having treatments - lymph fitness facial here, yin and yang massage there - and raving about the practitioners. Most have booked into tailored packages. There's a timetable of optional activities - including archery in the yard, aquaerobics in the pool, and pilates, boxing, meditation and core conditioning in the gym. Stretch classes are held every morning and bush walks every night. Mountain bikes are available.
There are three types of rooms in the giant 1920s guest house - valley view en suites with (you guessed it) breathtaking views over the hills and trees, normal en suites, and basic private rooms with shared bathrooms. There's no TV in the room, but if you can't miss that episode of My Kitchen Rules, there is a public TV room. No alarm clocks either - guests are woken daily at 7am with a gentle knock on the door. Rooms are spacious and serviced daily.
If it were a jail cell I reckon you'd sleep like a baby - what with all that meditating and bushwalking and eating - but in any case the rooms are really cosy. Nothing fancy, but all you need - ceiling fans, heaters, thick sheets and comfortable pillows, bedside lamps, plenty of cupboards.
A triumph. Hearty, largely healthy and tasty. Breakfast and lunch (vegetarian) are buffet-style, with dinner a three-course meal. Dark-chocolate mousse was a favourite dessert, and wonderfully cooked main meals included tomato, spinach and ricotta bake, and beef sirloin with roast vegies.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR
Even if you're not the bushwalking type, get out of your comfort zone after dark for the glowworm glen walk in the National Park. It takes about an hour there and back and you'll be rewarded with the spectacle of scores of glowworms. And maybe a wombat or two - a mother and her baby ambled across the path in front of us. Take a torch.
A peaceful haven encouraging inner peace - the perfect stop for active minds.
HOW TO GET THERE
Almost a two-hour drive from Sydney down the M5 - exit (suddenly!) at Sutton Forest. The train from Sydney takes two hours - Solar Springs staff will pick you up from Bundanoon Station.
Rooms start at $255 a person twin share. Treatments are additional, so packages, with lots of extras included, are more cost-effective. I was limited for time so took the two-night "escape package" (from $540 a person). There's also "Reconnect" for three nights (from $740 each), a five-night "It's all about me" package (from $1020) and the total wellness package, for five nights (from $1100) or seven nights (from $1530).
96 Osborn Ave, Bundanoon, phone 1800 044 944, see solarsprings.com.au.
The writer was a guest of Solar Springs.