Spicers Sangoma Retreat, Bowen Mountain NSW

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Where Is It: West of Sydney at Bowen Mountain, NSW.

Why Go: It’s a secluded, all-inclusive luxury romantic getaway just an hour from Sydney.

Best For: Couples looking for quiet, fine dining and more.

Three Things We Loved: The indulgent baths, the views, the convenience factor.

The Ultimate Factor: The service - nothing was too much trouble.


As you sit on the deck on the edge of the Blue Mountains soaking up the view with the unmistakeable feeling of being far away from the city, it’s hard to imagine that Sydney is, in fact, barely an hour away. Yet, on a clear day and if you focus hard enough, the recognisable city skyline is there, poking up beyond and above the bush treetops. As romantic getaways go, Sydneysiders are spoiled for choice, but what makes Spicers Sangoma Retreat that little bit special is more than a location which is handy to the Sydney CBD. It’s a fully self-contained getaway with five luxury accommodation options to choose from, and it’s all-inclusive, which includes your pre-dinner cocktail or glass of bubbly, as well as some mighty fine cuisine. Come here for a few days and nights, and all you need to do is pack some smart casual clothes, your swimmers if it’s summer, a good book, and prepare to kick back and relax.

Sangoma was privately held by two South Africans, an art gallery owner and international makeup artist, until it recently came under the umbrella of the luxury Spicers Retreat brand. The name Sangoma means “witch doctor”, and as you explore the retreat there’s an unmistakeable African influence throughout, from the decor including furnishing and rugs, to the dramatic artworks, and the lovely and unusual antiquities dotted everywhere. This retreat truly has it all; private luxury accommodations ideal for a romantic getaway, all food, views, an even massages can be organised if you really want to splurge. 

We’ll be writing about Spicers Sangoma Retreat and the Bowen Mountain area in our Ultimate Romantic Getaway series, so check back here soon.

The Accommodation:

The five suites at Sangoma consist of a unique Tent Suite, three Luxury Bush Suites, and at the top end of the scale, a two-level Chief’s Suite. The Tent Suite is a wonderful fusion of glamping meets luxury, a modern accommodation propped up above a glorious bush view, with plenty of fresh air and country breezes wafting through the space, and features including a king sized bed with a retro overhead chandelier, a freestanding Philipe Starck bath with a view, an open shower, and rollup style tent doors which open onto a private deck, including sun loungers and a fireplace for cooler nights. 

The Luxury Bush Suites also come with a view, plenty of space in a lovely open-plan layout, and have an individual African themed decor as well as different names. For the cooler months there is in-floor heating and a fireplace to keep things cozy, and a two-person Philipe Starck bath for a romantic wallow. If money is no object, the ultimate accommodation is the impressive Chief’s Suite which is a true home away from home with a spacious lounge and kitchen downstairs, an expansive bathroom and bedroom upstairs, and a private plunge pool on the deck. All accommodations have similar amenities including a flat screen TV with built-in DVD player, tea and coffee making facilities, luxury toiletries, bathrobes and a well stocked mini-bar.

Where We Stayed:

We divided our stay between the Stone Luxury Bush Suite on the first night, and the indulgent Chief’s Suite the Second. Our Luxury Bush Suite had a wonderful, unencumbered view of the forest, and a large deck from which to enjoy it. And as its name suggests, it had a strong stone theme decor wise, from the natural grey heated stone floor, to lashings of marble and exposed brick walls. Besides lots of moody dark wood there were also some unique touches to furniture such as the large pewter barrels used for night stands, real hide rugs and fur cushions, and fake fur throws. There was a top quality sound system with an iPod dock, and as we discovered, the mini-bar came packed with a variety of nibbles, along with mineral water and a bottle of French champagne. And there was a Nespresso machine and pods - heaven for a lazy afternoon. A major drawcard of the room was the bathroom, however, which had a dazzling centrepiece of a crisp white Philipe Starck bathtub for two, raised majestically on a marble plinth and from which you could see over the bed and savour the view beyond.

Another night another room, this time the impressive Chief’s Suite - the primary accommodation at Sangoma. With uninterrupted views from both levels you could really spread out in this apartment-sized suite, which comes with everything you need, including a kitchen area with a dining table to accommodate four people, and a strong African theme through its artworks and furnishings. During the afternoon, after exploring the local area, we came back weary and hungry to be greeted by a bottle of champagne and a fruit and cheese platter; that indicated it was time to crank up the log fire, and relax back into the oh-so comfy weathered leather sofa to fill our stomachs and watch the sun go down. Later it was bath time, with another gorgeous Philipe Starck two-person bath waiting upstairs to be filled and enjoyed. This truly is a suite which is hard to leave, which makes it popular with honeymooners.

What Else Is There:

Spicers Sangoma Retreat has a couple of short walks on property or you can venture beyond the electric gates into the local area to go bush walking or horse riding in the local national parks. On property there is a lovely pool with sun loungers to take in the view, and if you wish you can pre-book a massage which can be enjoyed at the pergola-style Spa Anise immersed in the sounds of the bush. Inside the main building there is an elegant lounge ideal for a pre-dinner drink and to mingle with other guests, and downstairs there’s a media/entertainment room with a TV, books and board games.

When it comes to culinary matters, all your food is included in the room rate, which means you really don’t have to leave the property for anything. Breakfast isn’t too early, so you can sleep in and enjoy your accommodation, then enjoy a choice of dishes all cooked to order. Light lunch is available during the day, and dinner starts early, with cocktails in the elegant lounge beforehand, and a set four-course menu to follow which changes daily. The culinary focus is fresh, organic and seasonal produce sourced locally from farmers and producers within the area, and there’s plenty to eat; the dishes are hearty as well as fine, full of flavour and colour. The Head Chef is is Sam Hardinge, who’s been around the traps in Sydney including at Sean’s Panorama in the Eastern Suburbs, and he embraces many styles in his daily menus, from classic European to Middle Eastern. Sam is also always up for a chat, and open to ideas if you have any.

The Verdict:

Spicers Sangoma Retreat is wonderfully close to Sydney yet it feels a world away; it is a property which has been on our list to check out for a long time, and as we discovered, it more than lives up to its reputation. It’s ideal for a romantic escape without the effort, where you will be pampered, well fed and will return relaxed. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff here, and it shows.

Spicers Sangoma Retreat is around an hour’s drive from the Sydney CBD, and located at 70 Grandview Lane, Bowen Mountain, NSW 2753, 1300 352 190, www.spicersretreats.com/spicers-sangoma-retreat/.

The retreat is all-inclusive with packages including luxury accommodation, light lunch for two (on arrival or daily), dinner for two, breakfast for two, all beverages including spirits and French sparkling wine, a full mini bar replenished daily.

Joanna Hall