27 Apr 2022 By AWAY IN STYLE

Australia’s Newest Eco-Luxury Resort

SYDNEY: Stays in the Blue Mountains just reached new heights with the opening of Chalets at Blackheath, Australia’s latest and most exciting high-end eco-resort. 

Presenting luxury in harmony with its natural surrounds, Chalets at Blackheath is a boutique retreat that sits on 17 acres of bushland immediately adjacent to the UNESCO World-Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park, in the pretty alpine village of Blackheath.

“Here, guests can embark on a journey through the enchanting elements of nature”, says Therese Moussa, the esteemed creative developer from Sydney dining venue The Grounds of Alexandria, who is styling the outdoor sensory experiences at this unique new addition to the Blue Mountains hospitality scene.

Phase one of the resort is now open – offering accommodation in the form of four freestanding studio chalets, discreetly spread out through the expansive grounds to maximise privacy. Light, airy, and beautifully proportioned, each chalet features a king-sized bed, wood-burning fireplace, and an oversized bathroom made of limestone, showcasing twin rain showers and a deep soaking tub. Lavish little touches include plush Frette linens, fully stocked Subzero wine fridges, and Riedel glassware for every occasion. On arrival, guests can expect glasses of Moët & Chandon champagne in the resort library or by the native edible garden, hosted by resort ambassadors who are at their exclusive service for the entire stay.

This pioneering project began in 2020 with the acquisition of the renowned Jemby Rinjah eco-lodge – built by Peter Quirk, one of the longest-serving mayors in the Blue Mountains, and accommodation winner of numerous tourism industry and environmental awards. Continuing this strong environmental ethos, Angela O’Connell, the resort’s General Manager says, “Chalets at Blackheath has been designed for the eco-conscious traveller without compromising on style, luxury, or comfort”.

With a vision to establish a paradise centred around sustainable luxury, the resort is a showcase of biophilic design, which is based on the concept of blending nature into manmade spaces to positively influence the occupant’s wellbeing whilst considering our environmental impact.

At the time of purchase, the property had been burnt almost to the ground, the devastating December 2019 bushfires having destroyed 80% of the lodge and its surrounding flora and fauna. “Since the acquisition, we have been working with local experts, ecologists, and bush regenerators to restore the property”, says O’Connell. Collaborators included Alex Strachan, a teacher of environmental studies and Richard Unsworth, leading landscape designer and owner of Sydney’s famous outdoor store Garden Life.

As Unsworth explains, “I saw our job as being there to help the natural bush return in all its glory after being ravaged by the fires.” “Blackheath has always been my favourite place in the mountains to retreat to and I was thrilled to be part of the exciting transformation of this incredible piece of land,” he continues.

Meanwhile, Strachan identified over 80 species of native flora that were sprouting up on the charred grounds and coordinated the rehabilitation of hundreds of these indigenous plants. “Alongside local company Wildplant Rescue and a team of volunteers, we were able to successfully rescue and relocate hundreds of native wild plants that would have  otherwise been lost”, he proudly explains. The seedlings were cared for at Wildplant Rescue’s nursery in nearby Katoomba for 10 months and have since been brought back “home” and re-planted in areas that needed help regenerating.

The conservation theme continues in the chalets: interiors combine the use of sustainable materials – clay, hemp, and stone – that serves to connect guests to the natural setting. The main feature wall was constructed using ancient techniques and earth, which has a very low carbon footprint and maintains ideal temperatures due to its high thermal mass, reducing the need for heating and cooling.

A calming colour palette and organic textures draw inspiration from the local geology, which includes soaring sandstone formations, majestic eucalyptus trees, and ancient caves forming place-based links between the accommodation and the distinctive characteristics of the landscape.

Future plans involve rebuilding just another six chalets, keeping the resort at an intimate and sustainable level. Other planned developments include a spa and a Moussa-designed outdoor lounge area, which will feature an abundance of plants and urns, an enclosed glasshouse for a magnesium pool, and an “explorer’s shed”.

Given its recent history with natural disasters, Chalets at Blackheath is conscious of doing its part to safeguard its surrounds. The resort has capacity to store up to 80,000 litres of harvested rainwater, funnelling this through a heavy-duty natural filtration system that not only supplies guests with clean, fresh water for showers and baths, but also fuels firefighting pumps and hoses for the local Rural Fire Service (RFS) in case of an emergency. The resort is also committed to increasing the water storage capacity beyond 200,000 litres to better protect the local region, as well as adopting the latest state-of-the art solar energy solutions.

Impressive waste minimisation initiatives include having zero disposable bathroom amenities, recycling, onsite composting, and drinking water filtered onsite. Chalets at Blackheath is also a Tesla destination charging partner in NSW, offering the ultimate convenience for electric car drivers to fill up on their trip.