After a spell at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, guests often leave feeling as fully restored and renewed as the bushland itself.
Luxurious cabins, tailored menus designed around produce both grown and gathered, private swimming pools, nature walks and uniquely Australian encounters amid a landscape of soaring escarpments and Blue Mountains wilderness. The appeal of Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley has never been greater.
After 2020, and the year that was, the luxurious resort reads like a wilderness utopia: a place to relax and retreat with the amenity we all crave — space. Having acclaimed chef James Viles leading the new culinary push in the kitchen has added a gastronomic lure, with food foraged from the woods, grown in the gardens and raised on farms with sustainable principles in mind.
The arrival of James Viles at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is emblematic both of the rejuvenation of the surrounding Australian bush after the devastating fires in early 2020 and the resort’s commitment to protecting it. Viles has a deep sense of connection to the renewal and regeneration of Wolgan Valley and says he is “excited about the new beginnings it heralds”.
“The resort’s passion for sustainability is something I share. This is the most amazing opportunity to work with some of Australia’s best regional producers and artisans in and around the Blue Mountains,” Viles says.
Viles sources his own native ingredients on the property, explaining: “It just makes sense … Mother Nature provides us with the ingredients in certain parts of the region – we as cooks just have to join the dots. It’s respectful and gives us an honest approach and a unique style,” he says.
The chic Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley resort is tucked away in a private valley and protected from the outside world by soaring bush escarpments. The retreat is in touch with nature so deeply and integrally that its light footprint covers just one per cent of a 2800-hectare wildlife reserve between the World Heritage-listed Wollemi and Gardens of Stone national parks.
As well as spotting a chef in the wild sourcing native ingredients, guests are able to wander around the property and experience the life-affirming natural regeneration of affected bushland areas. There is also an abundance of opportunities for memorable wildlife encounters with the native animals that have returned to the valley – such as kangaroos, wallabies and wombats.
Guests who are wild about wombats can even contribute to their conservation by becoming involved with the University of Western Sydney’s field research of the area’s native inhabitants, and then sharing their observations with the resort’s conservation team. (The team helped the university create the WomSAT website and app that aggregate sightings for further analysis.)
Other nature-based activities include 4WD wildlife tours, mountain biking, nature walks, night safaris and stargazing. There are also stables, with 19 horses gentle enough for even novice equestrians.
After working up a healthy appetite, it’s time to savour the region’s best produce from Orange, Mudgee and the Hunter Valley, which is complemented with herbs and vegetables picked from the organic kitchen garden. Seasonal menus also showcase local artisan producers such as venison from Mandagery Creek Venison farm and organic hand-made cheeses from Jannei Goat Dairy.
The beating heart of Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is the original settlers’ house owned by the Walkers, a heritage homestead that hosted English naturalist Charles Darwin in 1836 when he visited the family property. It has since been lovingly restored and tips its Akubra to Australia’s natural colour palette, thanks to the timber and sandstone sourced from within a 100-kilometre radius.
Breakfast at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley can be enjoyed in the Main Homestead with its sweeping views of the valley, while lunch options allow you to venture further to enjoy gourmet picnics and culinary adventures. Of course, you can also stay closer to home and choose from poolside dining or al-fresco barbecues. Then it’s back to the Homestead for dinner, where a three-course a la carte menu with matching wines awaits in the Wolgan Dining Room by James Viles.
Replete and relaxed, your accommodation for the night is a standalone villa inspired by Australian Federation architecture. Each has a separate living and bedroom area and a double-sided fireplace, as well as its own private indoor/outdoor temperature-controlled pool.
In addition to hiking and horse riding, you can also enjoy: the 25-metre infinity pool; tennis court; fitness centre featuring state-of-the-art equipment; and plunge pool, sauna and steam room. Yoga sessions are also available on weekends on the resort’s outdoor yoga deck with rolling backdrops and fresh mountain air.
The One&Only Spa is also a standout with its menu of therapies highlighting native Australian ingredients. Each room features its own changing area, bathroom, shower and Japanese-style soaking tub, along with floor-to-ceiling views of the escarpments. Children are also well catered for, thanks to the Wolgan Rangers Program designed to educate and foster a love of the outdoors among younger guests.
The resort is located safely outside Sydney’s suburban sprawl that is itself a haven of renewal and regeneration and one borne out of a deep respect for the Australian environment.
For more information, visit oneandonlyresorts.com
Awards: Travel+Leisure (USA): World’s Best Awards – ranked #4 in ‘The Top 5 Australia and New Zealand Resort Hotels’ – 2019