Robb Review: Spicers Sangoma
Taste the spice of life in an intimate retreat in the foothills of the NSW Blue Mountains.
It’s early morning, and the first rays of the day dapple the mist that cloaks the tall forest outside the tent. Only this accommodation feels far too opulent to be associated with camping. The night before included a soaking bath scented with ginger lily, the standalone Philippe Starck tub perched beside floor-to-ceiling windows; candles were all around, and the wood-burning stove crackled in the lounge.
Crawling between ridiculously high-thread-count sheets, I gazed at the crystal chandelier above my bed, contemplating whether to sip Veuve Clicquot from the well-stocked minibar (included in the room rate) or try a local Hawkesbury wine. A chorus of crickets and frogs provided a lullaby to sleep, while a symphony of birds offered a gentle wake-up call. If it wasn’t for Sydney’s skyline etched far on the horizon, I’d swear I’d been whisked away on an African safari.
This is, it turns out, the desired reaction for guests at Spicers Sangoma, a six-lodge retreat on the edge of the Blue Mountains. The property’s name translates as ‘healer’ in Zulu and inspires everything from the décor —think cowhide rugs, a wonderful collection of curios and objets d’art, furniture in wood and wicker—to the unhurried pace at which days unfold.
This morning, breakfast is served in my room, although there’s also a sunny restaurant where chef Will Houia shows off his talent with local produce. His five-course evening meals change daily, depending on what’s been sourced from local growers and farmers. There’s a lot to choose from—this part of New South Wales is known as the ‘food bowl’ of the state for good reason. Nearby orchards produce apples, stone fruits, berries and vegetables. There’s also cideries, vineyards and distilleries. Spicers staff offer to organise transportation to taste the region’s finest. But the prospect of a day exploring the immediate surrounds proves too alluring.
Each of the accommodations here is individual in design, from the two-storey Chief Suite with private plunge pool, to the Escarpment Suite, replete with swing chair on the patio. The Luxury Bush Suite has a tub set on a raised marbled pedestal, so grand it evokes Cleopatra’s bathing rituals. All facilities are discretely positioned to maximise bush views, which means that unless you’re in the dining room or by the main infinity pool, you’d never know there were other guests.
Aside from my lodgings, the only other tent on the property is the spa pavilion, where the small menu includes treatments that allow guests to soak in milk baths, be massaged by warmed basalt stones, and don a face mask infused with silk peptides. Champagne is poured at both ends of your treatment.
Bubbles are also on the agenda during the retreat’s culinary ‘experiences’: one calls on the knowledge of a sommelier to talk you through the tasting notes of premium wines, with cheese and chocolate on the side. The other involves an art teacher, watercolours and an easel, should you feel inspired to capture the drama of Spicers’ setting on paper. And you’ll want to try given this patch of paradise deserves to be immortalised.
Spicers Sangoma is a 70-minute car transfer from Sydney. Rates from $1429 per night, all-inclusive, with a minimum two-night stay; spicersretreats.com