Just 2.5 hours from Sydney, the luxury conservation-based resort Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley nestles in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The Wollemi National Park and Gardens of Stone National Park surround the 7,000 acre property, giving it an isolated and pristine feel. Recently, the resort completed a multi-million dollar renovation of the original 1832 homestead buildings. The resort occupies just 1% of the 7,000 acre nature reserve, giving you plenty of breathtaking views and room to roam. But what’s it really like to stay there? We’ll give you the rundown on accommodation, food and activities!
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Getting to Wolgan Valley
Wolgan Valley is just 2.5-3 hours from Sydney or 50 minutes via helicopter.
Once you arrive at the gatehouse, you leave your car in a secured parking lot. The parking lot has two spaces with electric car chargers. Then you wait in a comfortable indoor waiting room for a Land Rover to take you up the dirt track and over streams to the Main Homestead building. The Main Homestead houses reception, two restaurants, bar, gift shop, and outdoor seating.
Villas at One&Only Wolgan Valley
All accommodation at One&Only Wolgan Valley is in standalone villas. Wolgan Valley has 40 villas: 36 one-bedroom, 3 two-bedroom, and 1 three-bedroom. Each villa has its own plunge pool heated to 25C. The Sodashi toiletries are vegan and cruelty free. Chocolates, nuts, crisps, tea, coffee, ginger beer, and more fill the complimentary mini-bar (spirits are not complimentary).
Our 83 sqm one-bedroom villa was ample for 2 adults and 2 children with a bedroom, lounge, and bathroom with a tub and skylighted shower. The lounge had a queen sofa bed, which the housekeeping staff converted each day while we were at dinner and breakfast. The bedroom is not closed off from the lounge, which some people may dislike.
The kids appreciated the child-focused touches. Kangaroo stuffies with personalized adoption certificates greeted them at the door, child-sized robes and slippers hung in the closest, and after some serious inspection of the room’s nooks and crannies a sketch book and colored pencils revealed themselves.
All rates at One&Only Wolgan Valley include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a selected range of wines, beers and non-alcoholic beverages.
Breakfast and dinner are served in the Wolgan Dining Room on the main floor of the Main Homestead building. Lunch is served in the downstairs Country Kitchen dining, which has a casual bistro feel.
Breakfast features a full-featured continental breakfast bar as well as hot menu items. Lunch has a hot menu as well as wraps, salads, and sandwiches.
Dinner has an a la carte menu and a 5-course degustation menu. Meals include a generous list of wines and beers, and, of course, an even more complete choice of priced premium wines, beers, and spirits. Higher quality beef is also an extra charge. We don’t eat beef so I cannot comment on whether the cost is worth it.
The kids menus are standard fare with pizza, pasta, etc. The lunch and dinner menu differ slighly, both in content and in the coloring-in picture. Our children preferred to eat off the adult menu, which was no problem.
The attention to detail on dietary requirements was excellent. We were asked prior to our visit and every person in the restaurant staff re-confirmed.
Activities at One&Only Wolgan Valley
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley has three tiers of activities: a variety of inclusive activities, paid group activities called “signature experiences”, and private tours. We entertained ourselves with the inclusive activities.
All booking types include the inclusive activities, which are: a tour of resort’s stables, a guided Carne Creek nature walk, a hands-on conservation activity, a brief (15 minute) stargazing talk, a tour of the 1832 Heritage Homestead and Kitchen Garden, Wolgan Rangers for children, morning yoga/pilates, and self-guided hiking and mountain biking. Check the schedule carefully as some inclusive activities occur only on select days.
Hands down, the winning activity was Wolgan Rangers! Our kids did the two hour morning session each day. The kids loved Wolgan Rangers and regaled us with stories that made us jealous adults are not allowed! The daily theme and ranger rotates with topics such as Survival, Jackaroos & Jillaroos, and Insects. Children ages 5+ are welcome at Wolgan Rangers.
Mountain bikes are provided in your villa on arrival – complete with helmets! Several sizes are available, but no toddler seats or tagalongs. You can use them to ride around the villas, up to the Main Homestead, and on many of the trails. We enjoyed biking the Southern Track to Platypus deck. Be aware that the trails have uneven ground, rocky, and sandy patches. I would steer clear, if you have a child who is a new bicycle rider.
Signature experiences (aka group paid activities) include archery, trail riding (8+ only and see our disappointment below), nocturnal wildlife viewing, sunset wildlife tour, wine and cheese tasting. Private tours are also available
Our only disappointment was trail riding. One&Only Wolgan Valley levies an extra $100/hr fee per child (under 13) in addition to the trail riding fees. We just couldn’t see our way to pay this (in our opinion) needless fee on top of the high activity fee. We haven’t visited any other resort that adds this type of fee.
Exclusive, and exclusively priced, private tours are available to suit all interests. You could spend the day with a Field Guide on a completely customized itinerary, stargazing around a campfire at night, learn about the diverse birds of the Wolgan Valley, take a guided hike through the nearby national parks, see the reserve from the [relative] comfort of a 4WD, or just experience any of the inclusive or Signature Experiences on a private basis.
Wildlife at Wolgan Valley
With 7,000 acres of mostly uninhabitated land surrounded by two national parks, One&Only Wolgan Valley has a lot of wildlife. Our first evening, we observed with a thrill as wild wombats emerged from their holes. Little did we realize how many wombats we would see! Of course, the kids named each and every one of them.
In addition we saw kangaross, wallaroos, and wallabies….lots…around 5,000 live on the property. We hoped to see an albino wallaroo, but no luck. Although, friends saw one during a different visit. We also saw a myriad of birds and heard frogs in the creek. In the summer months more reptiles such as lizards and snakes are visible.
Swimming Pool, Fitness Centre, and Spa
A large, unheated pool is located at the Main Homestead building. I imagine it would be refreshing in the summer heat. It was a chilly 14C during our winter visit, so we left the experience to our imaginations. A heated jacuzzi is hidden just beyond the pool.
The fitness centre has gym equipment, steam room, sauna, and plunge pool. Two tennis courts are located a short walk/bike from the villas. Raquets and balls are provided.
We didn’t test it out, but the spa featuring Sodashi products looks lovely. Children ages 12-16 can choose treatments from the “joey” menu.
One&Only Wolgan Valley bills itself as a conservation-based resort. But how did they do? Here are some of the ways we noticed One&Only Wolgan Valley is being environmentally responsible:
- The Wombat Warrior program. Sarcoptic mange is one of the most significant threats to the survival of wild wombats. One&Only Wolgan Valley provides funding to the WomSat.org.au and Western Sydney University’s wombat research programs.
- Guest conservation activities (check the schedule for offerings).
- Each guest receives a reusable stainless steel water bottle to use at the resort and take home. Refill stations are available throughout the property.
- Minimal small, plastic toiletry bottles. The toiletries are in large glass bottles. Mouthwash is the only toiletry in a single-use plastic bottle.
- Linen and towel change on request only. You use an adorable carved wombat to signal the housekeeping staff.
- Solar power heats the villa pools and the pathway lights. Solar power is an area I would like to see the resort expand in the near future.
And of course by encouraging all guests to be outside enjoying the beauty and nature of the Blue Mountains. Hopefully that provides guests with one more reason to focus on their environmental impact.
Booking One&Only Wolgan Valley
You can book villas at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley on booking.com. We always appreciate when you book through our link, as we earn a small commission that helps support this blog.
You can also book directly online with One&Only Resorts. It’s worth checking the resort website to see if one of the special offers would apply to you.
Should you visit Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley?
We loved our stay at One&Only Wolgan Valley. We relaxed, ate [too much] good food, and enjoyed being outdoors together. Every day the kids looked forward to Wolgan Rangers. We stayed three nights and that was the perfect amount of time. Longer would have started to feel repetitive.
I would like to see more included activities in the nightly cost. Specifically, I think “Stargazing and Campfire” and “Nocturnal WildLife Tour” would be great additions to the inclusive activities list.
For those that are wondering, no, we did not receive any compensation for this review.