NineMSN - The joys of a spontaneous getaway

A weekend at Solar Springs Health retreat

Danielle Pinkus

Friday, August 21, 2015

Solar Springs

Sometimes the only way to your wellness front and centre is to take a small hiatus on life. Danielle Pinkus went in search of serenity in NSW's Southern Highlands.

When we check into Solar Springs after a 90-minute drive from Sydney, it's 6.30pm, we've made it just in time for dinner. Once I dump my bags and take a seat in the dining room, I look around and notice two things: one, they're all women (mostly in their 30s and 40s,with a few exceptions); two, there's chocolate pudding and wine on the menu — a small win for what I expected to be a strict weekend of sweat and dietary saintliness.

After dinner, I flop into bed in my en suite room without really noticing much aside from the pillow (which is rather comfy). It's not until early Saturday morning, that I open the curtains to discover the breathtaking views over the Southern Highlands of Bundanoon. The rooms are nothing flash, in fact they're very basic, but you're hardly in there other than to sleep so I don't get too hung up on it.

Guests are woken daily at 7am with a gentle knock on the door, though you can skip this option with a "do not disturb" door hanger (I did). A board in the reception area outlines what's on for the day (in addition to a schedule and menu which you're given on arrival). It's very casual, with only morning yoga requiring you put your name down. For everything else we meet in the reception.

We opt for a bushwalk, archery and a hit of tennis on the Saturday. Later in the day we made our way down to the main road for an afternoon coffee and cake at the local cafe on the main road (which I also highly recommend). The whole vibe at Solar Springs is designed so experiences are laidback. It's totally up to you how much or little you want to participate in.

Yoga on Sunday is more of a long stretch, and you don't need to be a gym bunny to get involved in any or all of the activities. If you want to get the heart rate pumping the facilities are free to use all day, until 9pm. I discovered during my weekend, the indoor pool area, which houses a steam room, sauna and spa, is completely empty after dinner at 8pm so I make a little ritual out it.

The meals a mostly healthy, breakfast and lunch are vegetarian buffet-style and dinner a three-course meal. There's skim, light and soy milk available so if you're after full cream or nut milk varieties it's best to bring your own. The portion sizes are perfect for women but might leave your average guy wanting a post-dinner snack. Taste wise, it's pretty no frills, but hits the spot after a long day of being on the go.

Everyone at Solar Springs is booked in for treatments, from lymph fitness facials to yin and yang massage and most have pre-booked packages. Anyone having a treatment heads to the lounge area in their robes. We sit and gossip with cups of house-blended tea as we wait to be called in. Every lady walks out looking totally blissed. After my facial I see why — it's damn good. I'd say in fact the treatments are Solar Springs' biggest draw card for me wanting to go back for round two.

Solar Springs really is a one-stop shop of wellness, with a naturopath, fitness trainer, reflexologist, iridologist, nutritionist, massage and beauty therapists and life coach.

As a result, it's mostly full of women (though not exclusively) looking to lockdown for some serious "me" time. When I stayed the venue was mostly booked out by large groups of friends taking some time out from the kids, and some mums and daughters.

If you're after a full-blown detox weekend, filled with health food buzzwords and rigorous exercise, this is not the place for you. Solar Springs will however leave you feeling relaxed and energised and is the perfect weekend for active minds who won't take time out for themselves at home.

Solar Springs is hosting a five-night Women's Health Retreat from September 6 to 11 to coincide with Jean Hailes' Women's Health Week. The package starts at $1400 per person (twin share) and includes accommodation health checks, advice on hormone management, a lymph fitness facial and a choice of massage, full access to the in-house health and fitness program and all meals.

More information about the Women's Health Retreat can be found on the Solar Springs website.