Feeling burnt out or stressed to the max?  Want to improve your health status or better maintain your wellbeing?  Need some personal attention to get you bouncing once again?  Take a drive to the Southern Highlands and check in to Cedarvale health retreat for a 5 or 12-day program.

Location, location, location

The first thing I noticed as I approached the lodge is the stunningly beautiful lush green surroundings.  Wow!  Cedarvale is located on its own 150 acres boasting the most salubrious scenery and fresh air.  From tall red and white cedars to cascading waterfalls and tropical rainforest terrain, it’s the perfect place to wind down and take relaxing walks during your stay.  Indeed, there are 5 km of scenic trails, well sign posted, with additional exercise equipment to help you bend and stretch along the way.

Homely and personable approach

You should know that this is a unique retreat.  Unlike some others, which cater for larger numbers, Cedarvale is relatively small and feels ‘cozy’, as soon as you walk into the lodge.  Guests have likened it to “a home away from home” - somewhere you can turn up to breakfast in your PJ’s, if you want to, or help yourself to a glass of water from the kitchen at anytime.  There are only six guest rooms (three doubles, three singles) at Cedarvale, which helps keep it more intimate, all encircling the communal lounge and dining room where guests get together in the evenings for a health presentation and a foot rub before bed! 

As with most retreats, the staff at Cedarvale are super friendly and helpful.  But, I sensed, they also seem to take a personal interest in each guest, checking in with them frequently during the day and providing additional support, as required.  Another advantage is that you get to dine with your doctor, dietitian and other therapists at meal times and chat about life, love and everything in between!  The staff are not just consigned to pop in for your treatments or formal medical consults - you will see them mingling with guests throughout the entire day.  I was also impressed with the integrative approach at Cedarvale – they try to use the best of orthodox medical care (you get to see the GP twice per week during your stay!) and natural therapies, such as the exhilarating Russian steam bath, infrared sauna or Swedish massage!  My hot pack massage was truly excellent.  The therapist graciously explained everything (without prompting) before she got started, so I knew what to expect.  She also consulted with me throughout to ensure the correct level of pressure was being applied to the different bodily regions.

So who checks in at Cedarvale?  People of both genders and all walks of life.  I learned that most guests are actually those who have attended before – having loved their previous stay and vowed to come back at least once per year.  After just one day, I could see why.  It’s not just the skilful massage and treatments you receive, or the tasty total plant based meals (low fat) served up three times per day in a homely and well lit dining room, but the extra mile the staff go to make your stay memorable.  Anyone for a night drive in a comfy Land Rover to see glowworms, wombats, wallabies and bandicoot?  Or a day trip to the local sights such as Carrington and Belmore Falls?  Nothing seems too difficult.  Before too long, the staff make you feel like one of the family. 

Hands on cooking classes

To help you put into practice a similar plant based dietary pattern when you go home, the cook and dietitian run several ‘hands on’ cooking classes during the week. These appear to be loved by the guests and are very popular.  Having the dietitian on board means you can have all your technical nutrition questions answered at the same time.  The events happen in the main kitchen so you also get to see and use helpful equipment, such as the powerful blenders you might want at home. 

As with many health retreats, fluids are discouraged with meals so you need to make a conscious effort to drink plenty in between and ensure adequate hydration.  I know I was having to keep an eye on my drinking routine!  At least, with this retreat the glasses are tall and the water is super delicious – filtered from their natural stream coming down from the mountains.  So it’s not hard to drink enough if you pay attention to your needs.

Your sleeping quarters

What about the accommodation?  The rooms are nicely presented and the bathrooms are currently being renovated to include more modern features.  Either way, I found the shower was hot and had good flow and the towels were comfortable without feeling worn out.  One practical suggestion I would make, however, is for a foldable suitcase holder to be available in each guest room – the type you get in a hotel.  That way you wouldn’t have to unpack and re-pack on the floor.  And you could use your case as an extra ‘drawer’ while you are there.  Also, a bowl of fresh fruit in the dining room wouldn’t go astray.  It would enable guests to help themselves to whole fresh fruit, as you might have trouble meeting your daily requirement if you relied solely on the limited cut up supply provided at the buffet for each meal.

Overall verdict

Overall, I loved my taste of Cedarvale and would gladly return and recommend it to anyone who has poorly controlled diabetes, fatty liver, cancer, arthritis, heart disease and depression or just wants to clean up their lifestyle and lose weight.  Especially if you like one-on-one attention, as Cedarvale makes you feel really nurtured.

Sue Radd attended Cedarvale over a weekend in October 2014 as an invited guest.

For more information on Cedarvale please visit: www.cedarvaleretreat.com.au