The national lockdown, as a result of the Coronavirus, happened swiftly and definitively.

Although at ‘Somewhere Unique’ we had always maintained a meticulous cleaning and hygiene regime, and although we have never had a check-in process which meant that guests do not need to come into contact with anyone throughout their stay, and although our retreats are completely secluded, totally private, and entirely self-contained, in the end we had to close.

We valiantly continued to welcome tentative guests and bookings for a week or two following the government announcement but not wanting to offer guests a compromised experience, in early April ‘Somewhere Unique’ closed indefinitely. Ironically it was not actually the government restrictions that forced this action. In fact, accommodation providers were allowed to remain open operating, but we closed because the government restricted all non-essential travel and, therefore, guests couldn’t actually commute to Wollombi.

The government advised that these restrictions would prevail for six months, until August. Obviously we were disappointed by these circumstances, and their affect on our business, especially following so closely after the horrendous bushfires throughout the summer. We completely understood, however, the critical reasons for these restrictions and, not wanting to in any way risk public safety, we were keen to support and adhere to the new rules.

Rather than be pessimistic about the dire situation, we decided to embrace the new circumstances and to set about devising a practical positive plan. With the retreats having never been closed for any period previously, and bookings being consistently solid for most of every year, all maintenance work had always been undertaken in the short breaks between the departure and arrival of guests. Regardless, we had always worked smartly and stealthily to ensure the retreats remained in good order, but there were always those large scale tasks which didn’t neatly fit into those odd spare vacant periods – and so we set to work!

Firstly, we did some internal painting on certain walls which were showing some mild wear and tear. A couple of coats of paint does wonders to brighten and refresh interiors. All furniture was then individually considered and updated where required. Next, we undertook a thorough deep cleanse on each of the retreats, ensuring every part of each retreat was thoroughly and deeply cleaned. Externally, we removed undergrowth from the gardens and cleaned up around the surrounding native bushland. We pruned many plants and checked overhanging branches on many trees to ensure they were safe. We scrubbed and lacquered the verandas and brought them back to like-new condition and, finally, we scrubbed down the external walls of each retreat.

We have always felt that the retreats have a timeless design which is aesthetically pleasing, sympathetic to their surrounds, while being completely functional and practical for short-term stays. And now the retreats have been updated to their original pristine condition.

Although inconvenient, the forced closure provided us with a rare and unexpected opportunity to enhance and preserve the retreats by overhauling every aspect of the dwellings to optimise the experience of future guests. This has been a substantial capital works project but a very worthwhile one, while also ensuring we made the most of the rare enforced period of lockdown.

And the government has now eased regional travel restrictions several months earlier than originally proposed. And so we are ready and excited to again welcome guests, and we are confident that their experience will be the best we can offer. And, we are grateful to our guests who have returned and are making future bookings at an enthusiastic rate. We are excited to be back in business!

Our only slight concern is that we are relatively exhausted by the sheer range of tasks we have undertaken. Does anyone know of a luxurious retreat in a beautiful rural setting that we can escape to for relaxation?