A delegation invited to the Northern Beaches for a tourism conference visited Australia’s most exclusive resort.

Around a dozen Councillors from across NSW visited Sargood on Collaroy yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, 30 May), with Northern Beaches Mayor Sue Heins. Since 2017, the award-winning facility has provided luxury specialist accommodation and respite for people living with a spinal cord injury.

Sargood on Collaroy is located next to Collaroy Beach, with wheelchair accessible paths from the premises directly onto the beachfront.

James Dakin at Sargood on Collaroy

Sargood on Collaroy General Manager James Dakin (image above) conveyed to the visiting delegation their commitment to providing a luxurious 5-star holiday experience. This includes breathtaking views, premium amenities, and meticulous services, all complemented by expert care tailored to meet the specialised needs of their guests.

“It was designed with the feedback from people with spinal injury. When our guests have tried to book holidays in the past, they would book hotel rooms that often weren’t properly accessible, such as an accessible bathroom with a step to get into it.

“You weigh up all the frustrations they’ve had in the past, we had to overcome that barrier where they’d been burned before trying to have a family holiday,” said Mr Dakin.

Sargood on Collaroy

“Our resort is completely accessible. Guests have a pick of the rooms. We provide personal care, any equipment they need, all the logistical things that have been hard and expensive, it’s all included.

“It’s not just respite for the person with the injury, we believe true respite is where we take on the logistical load, so a family can enjoy time together,” added Mr Dakin.

In addition to the awe-inspiring views and exceptional short-term accommodation paired with specialised care, guests at Sargood on Collaroy can indulge in a diverse array of recreational and leisure activities every day.

These include engaging in ceramics, enjoying a round of golf, embarking on captivating whale watching excursions, partaking in exhilarating kayaking and surfing experiences, relishing in the joys of fishing, and even embarking on a remarkable trek to Barrenjoey Lighthouse, all made accessible through all-terrain mechanised wheelchairs.

Tennis is offered at Collaroy Tennis Club, the only tennis club on the Northern Beaches providing wheelchair access and a Mapei hard court exclusively designed for wheelchair players.

A former guest turned staff member, Project Officer Alex Richter (image below, left), has also been experimenting with a drone control system he is developing to be completely controlled by someone who only has effective use of their mouth.

Alex Richter and James Dakin at Sargood on Collaroy

The tourism delegation heard the secret to Sargood on Collaroy is the holistic approach to a guest stay. Each guest is assumed to have unique needs, and Sargood on Collaroy is equipped with a ‘fabrication room’ that can 3D print items that guests and staff design for individual need.

“Our guests don’t want to be bubble wrapped, they still want to take part in things that are genuinely fun. Our job is to do it in the safest manner possible, to have the right equipment with the staff that are trained correctly.

“A great example is fishing charter. We can assist people in their chairs to board the fishing charter boat, so they can still get the full experience, with our team there to look after them,” said Mr Dakin.

Sargood on Collaroy

“We’ve got 3D printers and we run courses where we teach our guests how to use the software. They are in complete control of creating the designs. As a great example, someone was frustrated they couldn’t trim their own nails, and had to wait for a carer to come.

“They 3D printed a bracket for a nail clipper, and now they can do it themselves. It’s those little frustrations no one would understand until it’s taken away from you. They have the idea in their head of how to fix it, and we give them the tools,” demonstrated Mr Dakin.

Sargood on Collaroy

The formula appears to be a winning one with guests. According to Mr Dakin, they have an extremely high repeat visit rate of 82 percent.

Although stays at Sargood on Collaroy are limited to those with spinal cord injury, the specialised gym is open for membership by people who may be living with other conditions.

“Our accessible gym is open to more than just people with spinal cord injury. Anyone with a neurological condition can come in if they’ve got a membership and use the gym independently.

“It’s mostly people with spinal injury but we can cater to people with strokes, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, or other neurological conditions. It’s always supervised and they can use it to do an independent circuit, or book in with our exercise physiologist,” said Mr Dakin.

Sue Heins at Sargood on Collaroy

Northern Beaches Mayor Sue Heins (image above) explained that Sargood on Collaroy had been made possible through a collaboration between benefactors, the community and Council.

“It’s a wonderful place for people to stay, and a wonderful asset to our community,” praised Mayor Heins.

Sargood on Collaroy

Sargood on Collaroy has 17 fully accessible rooms that are available on accommodation packages ranging from $940 per night to $1,660 per night, depending on the level of care required. Mr Dakin pointed out the fees are set below the amount allowed by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“Compared with if it was a hospital stay, with nursing and care hours, with allied health care, OTs and physios, it’s a very good package.

“The NDIS actually allows us to charge a lot more, but we have a best fit approach. We have got three packages that fit the majority of our guests, and we can always tailor it if they don’t. We’re only charging half what the NDIS allows for, because we don’t want to be abusing that,” said Mr Dakin.

Sargood on Collaroy

Sargood on Collaroy is at 1 Brissenden Avenue, Collaroy, with the main entrance off Beach Road. The guest and visitor car park is accessible at the end of Birdwood Avenue. They can be contacted on 02 8597 0600 (9.00am — 5.00pm), or via their website.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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