As anyone with young children would know, getting away for a night is not just difficult to coordinate, it’s also a luxury which most of us rarely (if ever) allow ourselves.
So if you go to all that effort, you want it to be worth it.
Even the drive up to Spicer’s Sangoma Retreat along a bush road at the foot of the Blue Mountains above the picturesque Hawkesbury plains, bellbirds softly ringing in my arrival, is worth it already. Especially as it only took only an hour-and-a-half from the centre of Sydney. Just enough time for a podcast and you’re there!
As soon as the wrought iron gate of this gated complex slides open, you’re sucked into the peaceful vortex that is Sangoma, and you could be miles away. Pristine silence except for the thick gum trees swishing in the dappled afternoon light.
There are eight self contained villas at Sangoma, all one bedroom (one very large bedroom), so a maximum of sixteen guests at any time. But with villas spaced well apart, you barely see another soul. Which is the whole idea. My villa an ‘escarpment’ room’, aptly named for hovering on the edge of the escarpment, nestled amongst the trees, a view of the Aussie bush from every floor to ceiling window. The bathroom has the pick of the view, walled in glass, making it feel like you’re bathing outdoors. A bush bath complete with Himalayan bath salts and ‘bath caviar’. You are quite literally cocooned in nature.
This is just what a stressed out mum needs for a night away when your usual state is being in demand, little people calling you, tugging at you, needing you. At Sangoma, nobody needs you. There is nowhere to be but right here right now. You’re forced into an instant state of relaxation. What, no phone range? For once I’m happy about that. This is a place of reconnection. With your partner (most guests here are couples), with yourself, with nature. Or all of the above.
The original site was built in 2012 with five cabins and was taken over by the Spicers luxury retreat company in 2015 who, using the original architect and builder, added three extra villas, re-opening in September 2016 as an eco-certified luxury bush retreat.
The look is rustic industrial with African themed decor in keeping with the retreat’s title: ‘Sangoma’, a traditional healer or diviner in Zulu. It is indeed a place of healing.
“We try to recreate the experience of what people like to do to relax yet haven’t done in a long time”, says Sangoma’s GM, Sam Giles. “Watch a movie, read a book, do a puzzle, play board games”. That’s all on offer by the open fire next to the infinity pool, or back in your room.
Or you can eat. The menu is modern European with a French twist under chef Matt Ostrenski, a five course degustation fare that took me over an hour to get through (in a good way). More enforced down time, a far cry from the hasty meals on the run back home. We’re talking Moreton bay Bugs with pomegranate, tender braised beef cheeks with watercress, chocolate brûlée with a rhubarb sheet, all paired with matching wines. Breakfast for me (equally as indulgent) is eggs with kale and zesty pomegranate.
When one night away is all you can manage (and for busy mums, that is about all), you want to cram in as much serenity, calm and silence as possible. You get that in large doses at Sangoma because there is, by design, nothing else to do. No sooner had I arrived than I flopped into the oversized couch and read a book, dappled afternoon light squinting through my expansive window. Even more decadent, I then had a massage in a tent in the treetops beneath a chandelier. No wonder I slept better than I had in years in my gigantic bed.
When you’re far away (but not so far), there’s the headspace to think. Or not. Whatever you so desire.
In the Know:
Spicers Sangoma Retreat
Eco-certified luxury bush retreat.
Bowen Mountain at the foot of the NSW Blue Mountains.
90 minutes drive from central Sydney.
Rates and packages:
Packages start from $1099 per night and include: accommodation, lunch, dinner and gourmet breakfast for two, all beverages (including French sparkling and spirits), full mini bar.
Jacinta was a guest of Spicer’s Sangoma retreat in Bowen Mountain, NSW.
This story was first published on TheCarousel.com in August 2017