October 26, 2014


Two nights away at a health retreat was just what my partner and I needed to reinvigorate our bodies after a hectic couple of months travelling, partying and over-eating.

Giving up all the things I enjoy, adhering to strict diets, no martinis and boot camp style exercising is not my idea of fun. I knew there had to be a better way to get my body back into shape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter doing some research, I discovered Solar Springs Health Retreat, which offers two to seven night packages, designed to indulge and inspire, leaving me feeling renewed. This sounded just the sort of place we would enjoy.

An easy two hour drive down the highway from Sydney, Solar Springs is situated in the Southern Highlands town of Bundanoon, a quaint village that takes you back to yesteryear. If driving does not appeal, catch the train to Bundanoon and Solar Springs will pick you up from the station.

On arrival, we felt a sense of grandeur as we proceeded up a driveway, flanked by huge trees. The main building, a former 1920’s Guest House, is set amidst beautiful park like gardens, situated on the escarpment overlooking Morton National Park.

After receiving a warm welcome, we were shown to our Valley View Room, complete with views over the gardens, where each morning and evening we watched the arrival of kangaroos, rosellas, cockatoos, galahs and ducks. In the distance we could see the magnificent Morton National Park.

To enable guests to escape from their everyday life, none of the rooms have a phone, radio or TV. I must confess that I did miss having a TV in my room, but there was a TV Lounge provided for guests.

Three meals a day, plus afternoon tea, are included. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style, while dinner consisted of a three course set menu which changed each evening. Although there was not a wide choice, the food was excellent. Those watching their weight, were not tempted by the multi-course menus and groaning buffet tables, such as one sees on cruise ships.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe daily programme offered a wide choice of activities including archery, aquarobics, bushwalks, yoga, gym classes plus specialised lectures from a life coach and a naturopath. The enormous indoor pool, with a bubbling spa at one end, was very popular. There’s even a tennis court, but if none of these appeal, a pleasant option is to catch up on your reading in one of the two comfortable lounges.

My favourite activities were the spa treatments. I enjoyed a very relaxing facial one morning, then in the afternoon I indulged in a full body massage. From the five facials available, I chose the “Solar Steam Infusion Facial” using papaya enzymes. Male guests are not forgotten, with the “Solar Men’s”, a special 55 minute facial for men only. My Swedish massage was just what I needed to get rid of the tension in my shoulders.

There were so many other beauty treatments available, apart from the facials and massages, I could have spent my entire stay in the spa.


Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond



October 26, 2014


Japan’s famous ramen brasserie, IPPUDO, recently opened its second Australian venue at Sydney’s new hot spot, Central at Central Park. Their focus is on ramen dishes, in a casual and relaxed ambience.

DSC04032In Japan, ramen is known as soul food and in Australia, IPPUDO offers authentic ramen with the highest quality soup, noodles and ingredients, using fresh local products and fuses them with Japanese elements.

At the opening function, once the traditional Sake Barrel Breaking Ceremony took place, guests enjoyed a bowl of IPPUDO’s authentic ramen. It was hard to choose between the two famous signature ramen dishes: Shiromaru Classic, the original white, pork-based broth ramen and Akamaru Modern, a bolder red broth seasoned with garlic oil and IPPUDO’s special-blended miso paste (Umami-dama). I tried the Shiromaru Classic and can highly recommend it.

Launched in Japan’s ramen capital of Hakata in 1985 by IPPUDO founder, Shigemi Kawahara, the internationally acclaimed Ramen King, known for revolutionising the ramen industry in Japan. Kawahara won his place in the Ramen Hall of Fame after three consecutive first place wins on a Japanese television program where ramen mavens compete to create the best ramen.

Kawahara’s empire now has 70 stores in Japan and 40 internationally. He commented “Through a humble bowl of ramen, I hope to spread the Japanese spirit around the world with ‘Smile’ and ‘Arigatou’.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond.



October 26, 2014


Stoneleigh Marlborough Metro, a pop-up bar with a difference, has taken up residence in Sydney’s Hyde Park, behind St James Station and just across the road from David Jones. A very convenient location for shoppers and CBD workers to enjoy a glass of wine or two when they have finished their shopping or want a break from work.

Known also as Metro St James, the pop-up bar will only be around for several months, so don’t delay, make sure you visit this urban oasis soon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the recent launch event, I sampled their unique Cellar Door Experience, where you can taste a range of Stoneleigh wines, guided by a Stoneleigh wine advisor who educates you on New Zealand’s Marlborough region and Stoneleigh varietals.

The Stoneleigh Marlborough Tasting takes you through the Marlborough selection including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. The 10-15 minute tasting is $10 per person.

The Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Tasting of Stoneleigh’s single vineyard range includes Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The 10-15 minute tasting is $12 per person.

The Stoneleigh Deluxe Tasting of Stoneleigh’s Rapaura Series Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris plus expertly matched canapés is $20 per person and takes 20-25 minutes.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond