Relaxing is not something I do a lot of. Between two jobs, the blog, a boyfriend that kind of makes time disappear, a handsome but demanding dog and trying to have a semi-active social life, there’s not a lot of time for it. So when I was offered the chance to escape the city and head to Solar Springs Health Retreat in Bundanoon for a couple of nights, I jumped at it.
Just a couple of hours from Sydney but a whole world away in terms of pace, I was pretty excited to switch off my phone, spend a bit of time with said boyfriend and have someone else look after… well, everything else. So on a Sunday morning in August I packed every item of clothing I own into a bag (the Southern Highlands are really cold guys) and off we went, stopping in Bowral on the way for a surprise brunch at Biota Dining and a visit to the Bradman Museum (I don’t even know who I am anymore) before on to the main event.
Set on acres of gorgeous gardens with views over Morton National Park, the grounds of Solar Springs are nothing short of spectacular. Rooms are cosy, comfortably furnished, and – very important in the depths of winter – WARM. Plus, the bed was amaaaazing. The main house has a meditation room for quiet time, and a big living/reading room where you can relax by the fire and chat. The dining room is simple, with a focus on the food and view over the National Park. The grounds themselves offer hours of exploration or relaxation, depending on your preference. There’s a tennis court if you’re that way inclined (we were) or you can just chill out under one of the many trees with a book.
I have promised myself that one day, when I’ve made it (whatever that means) I will treat myself to regular facials. Right now though, I average around one, maybe two per year. Luckily this year, one of these happened to be at the spa within Solar Springs… and it was glorious. My therapist was super sweet, and the Purestuf brand of products used were locally made and very gentle. I actually fell asleep three times ( I know this because I jolted myself awake violently each time) and my skin was absolutely glowing afterwards. I have it on good authority that the Swedish massage is spectacular too.
With a menu designed by Francois Razavet, who has previously been awarded two hats in the SMH Good Food Guide, it’s understandable that you’d expect a lot. And for the most part, meals did not disappoint. Healthy, satisfying, buffet-style food was awaiting us each breakfast and lunch, with plenty of fresh salads, proteins and carbs to keep us satisfied. Dinners were a slightly more formal affair affair; three courses, all beautifully plated and well thought-through with interesting flavour combinations. Be early to ensure fresh, piping hot food.
The beauty of Solar Springs is that you have the opportunity to do as little or as much as you like. Each day is packed to the brim with options, including yoga, bushwalks, archery, aqua aerobics, meditation, wellbeing talks and more. I was a bit unwell for the days we were there, so I didn’t get to try as many physical activities as I might have liked, however I can highly recommend the bushwalking, tennis and archery (even though KG seriously showed me up at archery, hitting a bullseye on MY target because apparently his own target was too easy). We also spent a bit of time in the spa, and you’ll see why – it looks straight out over the national park. For a truly holistic stay they also have a naturopath on staff who can help you discover what the path of wellbeing looks like for you.
OK I needed a separate section for this because I was seriously impressed. More free weights than I can imagine any commercial gym needing, a colourful array of kettlebells, Keiser resistance machines, treadmills, bikes, squat racks…. if you need it, they have it. They also have personal trainers on-staff for anyone who wants some individualised attention.
If you’re looking for a simple, comfortable place to take some time out – whether that’s to catch up with friends, re-connect with yourself, recover from surgery or even just to escape the rat race, then Solar Springs is a great choice. During my stay there were a number of groups of women, mother-daughter pairings and ladies who appeared to be making the most of some me-time. We only stayed a couple of nights, but I can honestly say that I returned to Sydney feeling like I’d been away for longer. And you can’t ask for much more than that.
*Note: This post is proudly sponsored by Solar Springs Retreat. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way and all photographs were either taken as part of this review or from the Solar Springs website.