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Old Nov 13, 13, 9:58 pm   #1
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Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Map| 2 Reviews | 100% Recommended

Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

2600 Wolgan Road Wolgan Valley, NW AU 2790

Emirates Wolgan Valley (New South Wales, Australia) (0 Photo)

Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

I'm sadly wrapping up my 3-night stay at Wolgan Valley and figured that I would get a head start writing up my trip report while everything is still fresh in my mind. Our stay has been absolutely amazing and I would not hesitate for one second to recommend Wolgan Valley to anyone that's interested. Of course no hotel/resort is perfect, and we tried our best to have realistic expectations throughout as to not allow any minor issues which will inevitably arise (we only encountered a couple) to bother us.

Check In

As we were planning out the Australian portion of our honeymoon itinerary, we were very interested in visiting a hotel/resort in a picturesque setting that would also allow us to be active. I looked into resorts that are primarily considered beach destinations (Qualia, Sothern Ocean Lodge, etc.) but since I had already booked a stay at the Conrad Maldives with my Hilton points, I focused instead on finding a non-beach setting. I actually hadn't heard of Wolgan Valley before, but after seeing a trip report in this forum it was exactly what we were looking for (was also considering Tea Trails in Sri Lanka). I worked withDavidOwho took care of all of the booking/reservation details for me. We left SFO and flew direct to Sydney where we spent a couple of rainy days before leaving for Wolgan Valley. After spending a few minutes figuring out how to drive on the "wrong" side of the road, for the most part the drive up to the hotel was pretty easy and took us a total of 4 hours. We were slowed down due to heavy rain and also made a couple of stops along the way to check out some of the vantage points near Katoomba. We weren't too impressed by Katoomba as it was absolutely flooded with tourists and the whole town just screamed tourist trap.

View from Govett's Leap

Kangaroo and wombat crossing

The final 30 minutes of the drive to the resort is quite steep and windy, and I had to do my best to not drive too recklessly fast as I could barely contain my excitement. The entrance to the property is marked by a pair of gates which lead up to the main gate which is staffed with a guard. After checking-in with the guard, the gate opens up into a small parking lot where you leave your car. We were shown to a small waiting room until another staff member came to get us and take us back to the main resort. It's a brief 5-minute drive to get to the main resort building where we were led inside to check-in. The main building is also where the breakfast/dinner restaurant and Country Kitchen for lunch are housed. After arriving we were provided with warm towels and a glass of bubbly, and felt completely relaxed while enjoying the amazing views. The check-in process is a breeze with just a credit card taken for authorization, and then we had a brief overview of the property, the facilities and activities, dining options, and confirmation of Virtuoso benefits (60-minute spa treatment up to $185 AUD value, other standard benefits such as upgrade/free breakfast not really applicable here). After checking-in, we headed down to the Country Kitchen for lunch before heading to our suite.

Resort entrance off of highway

Main gate

Small waiting area at main gate

Rotunda at main buildling

Check-in area/lobby

Room

As we finished lunch and walked over to our suite, it was impossible to not feel completely relaxed. The property is absolutely stunning and the views really do take your breath away.

Morning fog rolling in

View of the property

Main building

The 40 villas form an S-shape around the property, and we were assigned suite #36. We found our suite to be extremely private as it is after the main walkway and therefore got very little foot traffic. The resort was at less than 50% capacity which also contributed to the feeling of privacy. My recommendation would be to request one of the suites #32-40 as these are at the end of the S-shape and away from the walkway leading to the main building. The 1-BR suites have a "cottage" feel and felt very welcoming. Upon entering there is a small foyer which is also where the mini-bar is setup. There was a fully-stocked fridge with wine, soda, juice, and water along with a tea and coffee machine. There is also a snack drawer filled some chocolates and cookies/biscuits should you desire a snack in between meals. Everything is inclusive aside from a few bottles of hard alcohol.

Our suite #36

Front porch with our mountain bikes

Snack selection

The suites are quite large and definitely more than enough room for a couple. There is a living room area which is separated from the bedroom by a fireplace. Off of the living room is an entrance to the private pool and outdoor deck area. To be honest, we barely utilized the private pool and actually only used it for the novelty of it. It actually felt a bit claustrophobic and the water was quite chilly. We spent most of our time at the main pool and spa area. The bedroom is equipped with the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in, as well as a large walk-in wardrobe with a sitting area. Past the bedroom is the bathroom which features double sinks, a large soaking tub, and a rain shower with a skylight. There is also a deck area which looks out over the property and has a couple of rocking chairs.

Living room

Fireplace and desk

Amazingly comfortable bed

Wardrobe

Bathroom

Shower with skylight

View from the tub

Private pool

Resort Facilities and Activities

The resort's facilities included everything that we were looking for, but were definitely not the highlight of our stay. But to be fair, it's hard to top the natural setting and views around the property. The upstairs of the main building houses the lobby, a small gift shop, and the bar and dining room where breakfast and dinner is served. Downstairs is the Country Kitchen where lunch is served.

Main dining room

Just outside of the main building are the remaining facilities which include the spa, gym, indoor steam/sauna and cold plunge pool, and outdoor pool and hot tub. Being the good husband that I am, my wife got to use the complimentary massage as part of the Virtuoso benefits and she reported back that the spa facilities and massage were fantastic. We actually wanted to get a couples treatment, but they were fully booked over the duration of our stay and couple only accommodate one of us. So if you are interested in utilizing the spa, I would definitely recommend booking ahead of time. The outdoor pool area had approximately 15-20 lounge chairs and actually got quite crowded during mid-day. I can imagine when the resort is at full capacity that this area would be very crowded. The thing we enjoyed most was actually the indoor sauna/steam room and the cold plunge pool. At least a couple hours during the trip were spent going back and forth between hot and cold. The gym looked like it was seldom used and was pretty basic.

Pool

As part of the inclusive rate, two free activities are available per day. There are several other activities that can be purchased at an additional cost, but none of them looked appealing enough to us to purchase. We ended up participating in only 3 of the 6 activities that were available to us, which were the wildlife safari, night safari/stargazing, and horseback riding. We enjoyed all 3 of the activities, but our favorite was definitely the night safari as we were able to see a ton of animals (kangaroos, wallaroos, and wombats). The guides were very knowledgeable and we actually learned a good amount about the history of the property and the wildlife that inhabits it. We found that horseback riding was by far the most popular activity, and we were lucky to grab a time slot on our last day. Again, if this is something you're interested in would recommend booking prior to arrival.

Wildlife safari vehicle

Mob of kangaroos/wallaroos

1 of 5 albino wallaroos on the property

Wallaroo with joey in pouch

Wombat spotted during our night safari

Horseback riding

The activity that we enjoyed most was actually mountain biking around the property. There are two main bike trails - one is a 7KM trail to Platypus deck, and the other is a 16KM loop around the entire property. Both of these trails are very easy to do unguided, and we were able to stop at several of the designated viewing points along the way to enjoy the views. It also allowed us to get up close and personal at times with the kangaroos/wallaroos. We considered doing some hiking but the flies were constantly swarming and stopped that from happening. Overall, we definitely felt like it was an active holiday and really enjoyed all of the activities.

Dining

Our favorite part of the trip! Every single meal we had was delicious and very high quality - the resort takes pride in using ingredients from their on-site garden as well as from other local farms. For the most part there was a good variety to choose from, for both lunch and dinner there would be specials that were changed each day, along with "classics" that did not change for the duration of our 3-night stay. We didn't partake in any of the additional cost options, but heard that the in-suite Australian BBQ was one of the popular choices.Breakfast Breakfast is available from 7-10am (11am on weekends/holidays) in the main dining room. There is a buffet with pastries, meats, fruit, yogurt, and juice as well as a menu with available hot options. The hot options did not change for the duration of our stay. Each of the hot entrees alone is plenty of food, and on the first day we made the mistake of eating too much at the buffet before getting our entrees. The breakfasts are definitely on the hearty side, which makes sense since most people are off to activities in the late morning.

Breakfast menu

Buffet sampling

Eggs Ormiston

Valley Breakfast

Lunch

There are a couple options for lunch - one is have a picnic basket packed for you to bring out to the destination of your choice, but this was not an option for us due to the swarming flies. The other option is to eat at the Country Kitchen in the main building, which serves lunch from 12noon-3:30pm each day. Because guests are on different schedules at this part of the day, there was never more than a couple tables occupied at any given time. We're actually not used to have a 3-course lunch and found that in general 2 courses (appetizer/main or main/dessert) was more than enough, especially after a big breakfast. The food we had during our 3 lunches were fantastic, with the duck confit being one of the big highlights.

Sample lunch menu

Sample picnic lunch for 2

Duck confit

Tempura soft shell crab

Burger

Gnocchi

Deconstructed passion fruit cheesecake

Pistachio mousse

Dinner

Dinner is served in the main dining room from 6:30-10pm each night. Since the resort was not at full capacity, the dining room never filled up at any point in time, but during busier periods of the night we did find that the service could be spotty. I can't imagine how it would be if the resort was at full capacity, unless there are additional staff at those times to handle the crowd. Dinner was very enjoyable and each night would be approximately 2-3 hours from start to finish. There is an extensive wine list with a page dedicated to local wines that are inclusive, and several pages of foreign wines that are an additional cost. Overall we absolutely loved the local wines and even wrote down the names of a few for purchase later on. Prior to dinner, for those that would like to enjoy the sunset, the outdoor terrace was available for drinks and canapes. Similar to lunch, each day there was a "classics" section that did not change, as well as a daily tasting menu. For the most part we stuck to the tasting menu, with the exception of the last night where I went with the classics section. The tasting menu also has suggested wine pairings which we got each time. Also, each night there was a completely different selection of cheeses to choose from which were delicious.

Pre-dinner canapes

Table setting

Sample "classic" dinner menu

Sample "Taste of Wolgan" tasting menu

Oysters

Poached scallops

Sorbet palate cleanser

Main course- barrumundi

Special ice sculpure with ice cream to celebrate our honeymoon

Chocolate cake dessert

Cheese selection

Sample tasting menu #2

Sweetbreads

Sashimi

Trio of pork

Pineapple "ravioli"

Tips

A tip for anyone considering a summer trip - note that swarms of flies are around throughout the daytime (currently buzzing all around me as I type this) and they are legitimately bothersome. Before coming here, we were even looking forward to having a picnic but it's simply not possible with all of the flies. Obviously there isn't much that the resort can do about them, but just a heads up if you're looking to come around this time of year.

Overall

Overall, this has definitely been the best hotel/resort we've ever stayed in. The facilities, service, and food/beverage have been fantastic, but the best part of all is the setting and the views around the property are simply breathtaking. We can't wait to return!

Emirates Wolgan Valley (New South Wales, Australia)

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Last edited by IBgkim; Nov 10, 14 at 4:09 pm
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Old Nov 14, 13, 12:57 am   #2
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Im excited to see more
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Old Nov 14, 13, 3:05 am   #3
  
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looks really good so far!
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Old Nov 14, 13, 5:41 am   #4
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oh damn, that looks more than exceptional
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Old Nov 14, 13, 5:47 am   #5
  
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Great report so far - has there been any damage locally from the recent bush fires - I imagine you saw a lot of burnt trees on your way through the Blue Mountains.

If you're still there and will be driving back to Sydney ask the hotel for directions back through the delightfully named Bell's Line of Road through Bilpin, Kurrajong, Richmond, etc - one of my favourite drives in Oz.

BTW - a few weeks ago I spent a few days on a friend's farm in a similarly wonderful setting a bit to the east of where you are - unfortunately I didn't have my own plunge pool but it was free! Just sitting on her porch overlooking her paddocks with a glass of chilled chardonnay in the evening listening to the wildlife especially the birds was wonderful - I imagine Wolgan Valley is the same. Oh and horse riding was the only activity available unless you count walking around her property!
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Old Nov 14, 13, 5:53 am   #6
  
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The food looks wonderful.
Mr and Mrs Smith have 4 nights for the price of 3 until 14th Dec. http://www.mrandmrssmith.com/luxury-...and-spa/offers
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Old Nov 14, 13, 6:43 am   #7
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great details and photos, especially wildlife, and the food/menus are always appreciated.

"Special ice sculpure with ice cream to celebrate our honeymoon" - impressive.

Last edited by Kagehitokiri; Nov 14, 13 at 7:47 am
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Old Nov 14, 13, 7:42 am   #8
  
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Wolgan Valley is my favourite resort in Australia - glad it is finally being recognised.
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Old Nov 14, 13, 7:55 am   #9
  
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thanks for the detailed report!
brings back wonderful memory of our stay there, their F&B is absolutely fantastic!
agree with quitecontrary, Bell's line of Road is much better way to get into Wolgan than going via the touristy Katoomba.
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Old Nov 14, 13, 11:33 am   #10
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Looks like reason enough to go to Australia! Thank you for this truly exceptional report and pictures.

This property has been on my bucket list for a while now. We're just waiting for an equally worthy Great Barrier Reef resort.
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Old Nov 14, 13, 2:26 pm   #11
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Originally Posted by quitecontrary View Post
Great report so far - has there been any damage locally from the recent bush fires - I imagine you saw a lot of burnt trees on your way through the Blue Mountains.

If you're still there and will be driving back to Sydney ask the hotel for directions back through the delightfully named Bell's Line of Road through Bilpin, Kurrajong, Richmond, etc - one of my favourite drives in Oz.

BTW - a few weeks ago I spent a few days on a friend's farm in a similarly wonderful setting a bit to the east of where you are - unfortunately I didn't have my own plunge pool but it was free! Just sitting on her porch overlooking her paddocks with a glass of chilled chardonnay in the evening listening to the wildlife especially the birds was wonderful - I imagine Wolgan Valley is the same. Oh and horse riding was the only activity available unless you count walking around her property!
Thanks for the recommendation, we will definitely inquire this morning during check-out! We actually did not see much damage during the drive due to the bush fires, but it was certainly a hot topic that many of the guides mentioned. Perhaps the damage was further inland away from the main roads.

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Originally Posted by quitecontrary View Post
The food looks wonderful.
Mr and Mrs Smith have 4 nights for the price of 3 until 14th Dec. http://www.mrandmrssmith.com/luxury-...and-spa/offers
That's a great deal - if we didn't have the rest of our honeymoon itinerary already booked out, I would even consider extending! Apparently that happens quite often, especially for guests that only book 2 nights, they just can't bring themselves to leave and end up staying for a 3rd.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kagehitokiri View Post
great details and photos, especially wildlife, and the food/menus are always appreciated.

"Special ice sculpure with ice cream to celebrate our honeymoon" - impressive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vuittonsofstyle View Post
Wolgan Valley is my favourite resort in Australia - glad it is finally being recognised.
Quote:
Originally Posted by halibahs View Post
thanks for the detailed report!
brings back wonderful memory of our stay there, their F&B is absolutely fantastic!
agree with quitecontrary, Bell's line of Road is much better way to get into Wolgan than going via the touristy Katoomba.
Glad to share! The food was truly exceptional and was like we were eating at a 5* restaurant every day for every meal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ericka View Post
Looks like reason enough to go to Australia! Thank you for this truly exceptional report and pictures.

This property has been on my bucket list for a while now. We're just waiting for an equally worthy Great Barrier Reef resort.
According to the staff, the resort guests are approximately 75-80% locals (remaining 20% of foreign guests primarily from USA) which was consistent with our experiences. So we got to chat with quite a few Aussies, and most of them gave Qualia at the GBR rave reviews.
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Old Nov 17, 13, 12:27 am   #12
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Thanks for posting this. It looks very nice. The fly situation sounds dreadful, however. Did they bother you all the time, or just if you had food with you outdoors?

I will say these high end Australian properties really do food well. Though I've not been to this property, my experience at SOL and one or two others down there was very strong from a culinary perspective. Far more so than nearly any property in the US, IMHO.
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Old Nov 17, 13, 3:31 am   #13
  
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Thanks for posting this. It looks very nice. The fly situation sounds dreadful, however. Did they bother you all the time, or just if you had food with you outdoors?

.
The flies are a problem in outback Australia even if you don't have food - that's why Ozzies wear those hats with corks on them.
The Great Australian Salute - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aussie_salute
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Old Nov 17, 13, 9:05 am   #14
  
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Thank you for such a detailed report! The property itself and the food all look amazing. We did the Saffire Freycinet last year and can't wait to try Wolgan for a comparison. We will be staying at the Wolgan for several nights over Xmas. I suspect the property will be full at that time but hopefully not too different an experience. With the fly situation, has that stopped you from any activities other than picnic? And is that really not advisable since that was one of the things I look forward to doing? Also, is there any activities that you would recommend booking ahead other than massage? Thanks in advance!
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Old Nov 18, 13, 2:36 am   #15
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Thanks for posting this. It looks very nice. The fly situation sounds dreadful, however. Did they bother you all the time, or just if you had food with you outdoors?

I will say these high end Australian properties really do food well. Though I've not been to this property, my experience at SOL and one or two others down there was very strong from a culinary perspective. Far more so than nearly any property in the US, IMHO.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HKTraveler View Post
Thank you for such a detailed report! The property itself and the food all look amazing. We did the Saffire Freycinet last year and can't wait to try Wolgan for a comparison. We will be staying at the Wolgan for several nights over Xmas. I suspect the property will be full at that time but hopefully not too different an experience. With the fly situation, has that stopped you from any activities other than picnic? And is that really not advisable since that was one of the things I look forward to doing? Also, is there any activities that you would recommend booking ahead other than massage? Thanks in advance!
Regarding the fly situation, it is definitely tolerable but at least for me was a big enough nuisance to take away from my enjoyment being outdoors. Basically, anytime we were outside and either sedentary or just walking, the flies would swarm around us. Unlike mosquitoes which we're used to back home, the flies tended to hover until you shook them off. So for example while we were walking from our suite to dinner, I would have 10-20 flies just hanging out on my shirt that would need to be shaken off. They seemed to like me a lot more than my wife, perhaps my scent was must more enticing to them =)

Bug spray did work with mild results, but not enough to keep them entirely away. I woudln't say that the picnic would not be advisable per se as it would truly depend on your tolerance level. I would say that mine is quite low. In addition to the picnic, sunbathing around the main pool was tough as well with the flies, but hanging out in the pool and hot tub would keep them away. We (briefly) thought about playing some tennis, but decided against it due to flies. Mountain biking and the wildlife safaris were not a problem as we were moving fast enough.

Spa and anything horse-related should definitely be booked in advance (both the free arena ride and paid hores trail activity), but none of the other activities should have any issues booking after arrival.
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