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Royally relaxed

Lap up some five-star luxury at the Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales

An edited version appeared in mX, 17th May 2011

Since it opened eighteen months ago, the $125 million Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa has played high-class host to some of Australia – and the world’s – hottest property: Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, Oprah’s entourage, Jennifer Hawkins and Jake Wall, Zara Phillips. And those are just the people we’re allowed to mention.

Part of the Saudi-owned Emirates portfolio, it’s no surprise the Wolgan Valley is a retreat fit for future kings and queens... and me, your intrepid mX writer. I suffered people, I really did. After two days being treated like a princess at Wolgan Valley, I’m betting that when the newly hitched Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Wills and Kate) visit Australia on their world tour this coming spring they’ll pop in to Wolgan Valley for a cup of tea and a lie down.

Nestled between two national parks, the resort borders the pristine Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. It’s Australia’s first luxury based conversation resort and the world’s only carbon neutral certified resort, and uses just two percent of the 4000 acres it sits on. The rest is a wildlife reserve dedicated to indigenous plant and animal species, like the recently discovered Wollemi Pine, and the albino wallaroo. I spotted both on my dusk safari, and they’re more impressive than you might think.

It was a scenic three-hour autumnal drive from Sydney CBD for yours truly, but, like many of the resort’s guests, Wills and Kate will probably arrive by private helicopter. They’ll be collected in a 4WD and ferried to the Main Homestead, an expansive, federation-style building constructed from local timbers and sandstone with a verandah offering breathtaking views of Wolgan’s sheer cliffs and vast valley floor.

The Homestead is the heart of the resort, and has been thoughtfully decorated with nods to the region’s settler past: a plough unearthed on the property sits close to the entrance; old drizabone coats have been refashioned into lampshade covers; a 600-year-old piece of timber is now a clock face. Upstairs houses a lounge, walk-in cellar, bar and dining room, while downstairs is a providore-style kitchen and dining room.

After a welcome glass of sparkling wine they’ll be shown to one of the forty private suites on offer; perhaps a $1,950/night Heritage Suite, or a $3,500/night Wollemi Suite. If they really feel like splashing out, they’ll go for the $5,500/night Wolgan Suite. Whichever they choose, they’ll be right royally pampered. Each suite boasts a private pool, an indoor-outdoor verandah, double-sided fireplaces for warming the separate bedroom and living areas, an ensuite bathroom stocked (like the resort’s Timeless Spa) with Babor products and a walk-in wardrobe almost as big as my bedroom.

If they’re feeling active, they might workout in the gym, take a dip in the infinity pool, or go canyoning, horse riding or 4WDing around the property.  Me? I opt for a sleep in – it’s not often a girl gets to laze about in a sumptuous, four-poster bed. To get some romance into the mix, Wills and Kate could take the staff up on their offer of a gourmet picnic set up on one of the resort’s secluded viewing decks, which they’ll mountain bike to and from – with a walkie talkie to hand in case they get lost. They’ll dine in 100 mile style; what it doesn’t grow in its own kitchen gardens, the resort sources 95 per cent of its ingredients from producers located within a 100 mile radius.

This might all sound ridiculously unaffordable, but the Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa is fit for princesses and commoners, and they’ve got an Autumn Retreat special on to make it just that little bit more achievable. Valid until the end of June, the Autumn Retreat package offers a special rate of $1,350 per person for two nights’ accommodation, inclusive of a gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner, cooking demonstration, spa treatment and nature experiences. Now, surely that deserves a royal wave.