by Zac in Cool Travel on Sunday 11 August 2013

I recently stayed at the Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa. If you picture sheer luxury intertwined with rugged Australian bush, that is what’s on offer. Here’s the inside view on this quite remarkable resort.

Nestled between two national parks in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the resort is a three hour drive from Sydney. After an early start and quick stop in the Blue Mountains, we made our way through the windy roads to Wolgan Valley.

Word has it that Emirates scoured the breadths of Australia to find a suitable property for their first eco-resort. With Wolgan Valley they found a 4,000-acre property that is surrounded by golden escarpments on all sides, and set about making it arguably the best luxury hotel in Australia.

The resort, the culmination of over $100 million in investment, has 40 freestanding suites, each with its own indoor / outdoor swimming pool, private verandah, separate living and sleeping areas, en suite bathrooms and double-sided fireplace. Our suite was a double, allowing for our children to enjoy the weekend trip too.

On check-in we were greeted with warm towels to refresh from the drive (the towels a nod, no doubt, to the airline heritage).

Lunch was our first port of call. All food and standard drinks are complimentary throughout the resort – including from the mini-bar. The free-for all on the mini bar was certainly appreciated by our kids!

The food and wine at the the Country Kitchen restaurant was well crafted, with a short but diverse menu. The kids were well catered for.

Emirates Wolgan Valley bills itself as an ecological resort, and this environmental focus plays out during your visit. Almost all food is sourced from within 160 kms, it has an accredited zero carbon footprint, over 175,000 indigenous trees have been planted (and they were planting even more on the day we left), and they have made extensive use of recycled building materials from the original site.

The wildlife around the resort was a stand-out attraction for us. After an afternoon swim in our heated indoor swimming pool within our suite (yes, within the suite!), our evening started with a 4WD Wildlife Tour. The kids were amazed to see such density of Australian wildlife within the valley. Kangaroos, wallaroos (we now know the difference) and wombats were abundant. We even spotted several albino Wallaroos, and the birdlife was electric. The setting of the resort within its own enclosed valley makes it the ideal place to experience serious luxury while sojourning into the often harsh flora and fauna that makes Australia so unique. Only a few kilometers away the famous Wollemi Pine was recently discovered, a relic of the dinosaur days.

Our evening meal was a stand-out and we sampled the impressive Australian wine list on offer. Back at home and with the kids in bed, we sat by the fireplace, wine in hand, and looked out over the dark valley.

The next morning we took off on a mountain bike ride. The girls enjoyed a guided bushcraft session while we went horse riding. Afterwards the girls had their own supervised pony session.  A final lunch followed by a visit to the original 1832 homestead finished our stay. It was the kind of day we’d love to repeat over and over if we had the time.

The staff very much define this resort. Laid back Australian in nature, entirely professional and focused in practice. This is a world class resort that combines the expectations of the high-end traveller with a commitment to broader ecological and environmental sustainability.

A stay at Wolgan Valley offers two extremes: absolute luxury that is beautifully executed and assembled, combined with an immersive experience in the rugged natural wonderland that is the Australian bush. The combination is memorable and makes the Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa a must visit for discerning global travellers and families looking for a short break from Sydney.