JOHN and Jan Nicholls are “at work” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
But don't feel too sorry for them.
They live in a spot that others cherish for holidays – one that offers a getaway experience much different than you can find just about anywhere else on the Gold Coast.
In fact, if it wasn't for the sensational views of the Coast skyline, it would be easy to imagine when you are staying at the Ruffles Lodge and Spa that you are somewhere in the Queensland bush, or the Snowy Mountains, or anywhere else in Australia that is thick with eucalypt forest.
Ruffles is perched high on a ridge in the Gold Coast hinterland, in an area known as Willow Vale, inland from Coomera.
The rollercoasters of Dreamworld and Movie World are clearly visible – and just 10 or so minutes away. But no screams of delight can be heard from the fun parks at the lodge, only the noise of the local wildlife and the breeze in the trees.
If a relaxing time away is your goal, this five-star retreat is definitely a place to consider.
In 1999, after selling their catamaran business, John and Jan found the perfect 25 hectares to build their dream property and their retirement was over.
Initially Ruffles had three villas and an executive suite set among landscaped gardens and native forest.
The venture proved to be so successful, an expansion came a few years ago and included the two highlights of Ruffles: three treehouse villas and the day spa.
There's now room to comfortably fit 20 guests and the Nicholls family is ensconced in its own home, which fits in unobtrusively on the property.
Manager William Ewens, who bought the property next door, says the treehouses – pole-style one-bedroom villas which feature a log fire, private plunge pool and deck, spa bath and a golf cart to drive around – are clear favourites with those who stay at Ruffles.
“If we had another three of them, we'd be able to fill them up most weekends,” the genial host said.
“There's something about them that people really love.”
But expansion really isn't on the agenda for Ruffles, which joined up with the Peppers group earlier this year.
“We could have extra guests but that would mean we would risk losing what we have,” John said.
“People come here, and keep coming back, because it is so serene.”
Ruffles is split into two distinct zones – the new and the old, which are separated by a tree-lined hillside.
Part of the “old” Ruffles is a Queenslander-style main building, which features the dining room, log fire for the cooler months, a large verandah, stone walls, high ceiling and aged timber, re-milled from 100-year-old wharves along the Brisbane River.
Each night, the lodge's executive chef prepares dinner – there is a three-course package which costs $70 – starting at 7pm, with drinks served in either the pool gazebo, terrace or dining room, depending on weather.
The gazebo has a wood-fired oven, as well as views across the hills to the Pacific Ocean and the 19-metre Infinity pool is heated.
Ruffles Lodge has a single 85-metre par three practice area with bunker, putting and chipping areas, so you can get your eye in for one of the many golf courses close by, as well as a series of walking tracks for those looking for some exercise.
The spa offers a range of facial, massage and body treatments, plus manicures, pedicures, an infrared sauna and steam room.
Room rates start at $420 a night for a garden villa, while the popular treehouse villas come in at $570 a night.
All rates include a cooked breakfast, fruit platter and a nightly turndown service with chocolates and premium port.
Jazz in July
Peppers Ruffles Lodge and Spa describes its annual Jazz in July Weekend from July 30 to August 1 as “the ultimate getaway for jazz and food lovers”.
The highlight is a Saturday night celebration, which includes a five-course degustation dinner created by award-winning executive chef Steve Houghton, and music by Mood Swings with a repertoire of jazz, big band, rock, pop, country and cabaret.
The Jazz in July weekend package provides two nights' accommodation, the degustation dinner with jazz accompaniment, full breakfast each morning and a $25 day spa voucher for each person.
Packages start from $1210 per couple.
For details and bookings, call 5546 7411 or visit www. peppers.com.au/ruffles-lodge.