When you sit down to plan out your next holiday escape, chances are Wolgan Valley won’t rank high on your list. The mountainous region just outside the NSW Blue Mountains is a fair hike from the high-rise buildings and picturesque seaside hideouts we generally reserve for our time off, but that shouldn’t be the case. A beacon of natural beauty less than three hours from Australia’s largest city, Wolgan Valley is the kind of tranquil getaway desk-jockeys need to embrace. Forget the creature comforts, ditch the luxury amenities and get back to nature, right? Well, not exactly. Play your cards right and you could enjoy the very best of the land Down Under from the comfort of an all-inclusive 5-star luxury resort backed by a world-class operator. Throw in a host of Lexus-fuelled benefits and we’re starting to think this might just be the best of both worlds. Strap yourselves in, we’re going bush.
Lexus x Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Famous for its unashamedly luxurious retreats, Emirates One&Only has amassed the kind of global appeal that few other hoteliers have been able to match. From the stunning Adriatic coastline of Montenegro to the remarkable vineyards of South Africa’s hidden wine region, the portfolio of resorts is elite, to say the least. Here in Australia, however, the brand has done something a little different.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is an ultra-luxury conservation resort that occupies just one per cent of a 2,800-hectare nature reserve at the foot of a world-heritage listed icon. Sitting smack bang in between the Wollemi National Park and the Gardens of Stone National Park, the property is home to a vast array of natural wildlife, from wallaroos and wombats to native birds and even a fox or two. But what really sets this destination apart is the ethos.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley doesn’t just bank on natural beauty to bolster tourism trade, it’s actively working to foster it. Prioritising environmental conservation, it is the first resort on earth to be accredited carbon neutral, with the entire team of highly attentive staff sharing a collective mission to leave this ancient place in good stead, or as automotive partner Lexus would say, good tread.
From the moment we arrived at the unique resort, we were greeted with a smile and more importantly, a welcome glass of regional wine. It was the perfect introduction to what would be a distinctly relaxing few days, headlined by the very best New South Wales had to offer. Just minutes later, we were picked up in Lexus RX, the brand’s first luxury hybrid vehicle, by our personal tour guide and transported through the stunning property to the main homestead. From there, the real adventure began.
Where Emirates has really made its mark with One&Only has been in the unique experiences on offer for guests. Sure, you could definitely sit around and sip wine by the pool, but you could essentially do that anywhere, so when we hit Wolgan Valley, we opted against the tried and tested.
Hitting the dirt road in the Lexus LX, we took a scenic drive through the 7,000 acre property to discover along with our tour guide for the day, Nick. Taking us across the northern ridge, he pointed out the remarkable foliage and natural plant life rapidly regenerating after a torrid few years hit by bushfires and drought. In an eye-opening experience, we quickly learned that this historic landscape is under constant threat of desecration, but it’s passionate conservationists like Nick that helping to steer a new course.
Heading up mountains and around the rugged landscape, we finally came to rest at the Blue Teapot lockout, the setting sun providing an awe-inspiring backdrop. Truly, no words were needed. The serene view, coupled with the crisp winter air made for an unforgettable experience and we were at peace just taking it all in. The sight of kangaroos jumping past and the sound of wombats slowly arising from their nocturnal homes was a perfect reminder of Australia’s pristine natural beauty and as day turned to night, we ventured back into the car and toward the homestead.
Across our two-day stay, we made our way through One&Only’s unique conservation activities, heading out on a bus tour to count kangaroos, taking hikes along the effortlessly clear Carne Creek and stargazing amidst the complete lack of light pollution. Needless to say, it was enough to make us fall back in love with the country we’ve been desperately trying to escape for the past few years.
Food & Dining
On the food front, the experience did not leave us wanting. but that’s no big surprise. Back in October last year, Emirates One&Only announced a partnership with Sydney institution Bentley Group, bringing a new era of culinary creativity to the Wolgan Valley.
In the main dining hall, we were treated to a rotating menu of seasonal local produce that championed the region’s stunning ingredients, sourced sustainably from the Greater Blue Mountains and surrounding regions. From fresh-baked bread for breakfast to the grass-feed beef that lined our plates at night, the endless cavalcade of delicious meals at Wolgan by Bentley was a visceral exploration through the best of Orange, Mudgee and the Hunter Valley.
Downstairs at the Country Kitchen, it was a similar experience. Centrally located in the Main Homestead, the sun-filled restaurant served up a series of shared lunches, including a whole baked fish and country chicken, updated daily by the chef’s market finds. Honestly, there’s nothing more exciting than sitting back on the veranda, facing unrivalled panoramas of the lush valley, beer in hand. Country Kitchen delivered exactly that.
Lexus Encore Benefits
It seems almost too much to admit, but within the already-ridiculous list of holiday perks, there are a few hidden extras available exclusively to Lexus Encore Privileges members. Guests who are part of the unique rewards program will be treated to complimentary wildlife and sundowner tours in some of the most remote and stunning landscapes in New South Wales, with regional wine upon arrival.
Naturally, these handy additions are available to regular guests, however, the big win for Lexus Encore Privileges members is that they score exclusive rates and offers, meaning you go wild while you go wild. Check out the kangaroo tours, dabble in a sundown spritz or simply get out on the range courtesy of Emirates One&Only and Lexus
The Bottom Line
While we’ve been forced indoors and away from the lure of international travel, the tide is turning. More and more countries are ready and willing to accept travellers and you may already be turning the screws on an overseas trip, but there’s something to be said for the land Down Under. Incredible scenery, experiences and food await at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, so before you hit the airport, hop in the Lexus and make your way inland. You won’t regret it.