The history of Spicers Sangoma Retreat

In 2014, Spicers Founder, Jude Turner purchased the Sangoma Retreat from Michael Podles and Zenga Butler. Jude was keen to offer accommodation in the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, and this spectacular, secluded property was already operating as a retreat. It had a unique arthouse feel that immediately struck Jude as well-suited to the Spicers brand of relaxed luxury.

Spicers Sangoma Suite before and after

Michael Podles (a former art consultant) and Zenga Butler (a stylist), had previously owned a weekender in the area. When the Sangoma plot came up for auction they jumped at the chance to secure it, keen to blend a new home with boutique accommodation for discerning travellers. Podles and Butler worked with Sydney architect Barbara Tarnawski to create the main house and three mini-lodges that are sensitively placed in the landscape. The four structures were designed to be open and light, and to make the most of the sweeping views. Influenced by the work of Australian Architect, Glen Murcutt, Podles and Butler adopted a simple materials palette of steel, glass, corrugated sheeting and raw concrete blockwork for Sangoma, as well as embracing practical, environmentally-conscious design principles. The aim was to fuse contemporary and distinctly Australian structures with personal, rich interiors – something they achieved beautifully.

Spicers Sangoma restaurant before and after

When Jude purchased the property, the interiors showcased curated collections from Podles and Butler’s native South Africa – some of these intriguing artefacts remain at Sangoma today. The word Sangoma is actually a Zulu word meaning ‘a traditional healer or diviner’. Spicers stuck with the original name; it suited the place to a t.

Jude worked closely with the Spicers in-house design team to extend, refine, and Australianise the property, aligning it intimately with the Spicers brand. Today, Sangoma offers six deluxe and very unique suites to discerning guests who visit from around the globe.