Sargood on Collaroy, which opened its doors two years ago, is a world first when it comes to giving people with spinal cord injury (SCI) a holiday, and much more. The resort recently celebrated its second anniversary with a special event that included a tour of the facility, hosted by resort manager, James Dakin. Guests included author Sam Bloom and Paralympian Mark Soyer.

People with SCI have come from overseas to experience what this unique resort has to offer which is having a holiday without worrying about accessibility or missing out on activities because of injury.

Response from guests has been overwhelmingly positive with 98 per cent saying their stay had a beneficial impact on their life. The purpose-built resort has attracted hundreds of guests from across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Norway, and was the official training camp for the Great Britain wheelchair rugby team in the lead up to the IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships this year.

With the help of the latest technology and equipment, it offers guests the chance to enjoy recreational activities such as surfing, cycling, archery, rock climbing, golf, ocean kayaking, and yoga. When looking to unwind, guests can relax and socialise at sunset drinks, accompanied by live music in the ocean view lounge. The resort has also started offering scuba diving courses and a ReWalk program, which will give guests the chance to use a robotic exoskeleton to walk.

According to James Dakin, the facility was designed to break down common barriers that prevent people with SCI to fully enjoy a vacation.

“We really aim to remove the stress of travel prior to arrival. We want our first-time guests to feel reassured that we have highly capable staff, a fully accessible facility and any equipment they may need here at the resort. Our role is to take the fear and frustration of travel out of the equation,” he said.

Each apartment at Sargood on Collaroy has been designed to feature assistive technology, home automation technology, adaptive equipment and living aids. The spacious common area kitchen, lounge rooms, balconies and hallways are all designed for people with SCI in mind. The expansive areas encourage interaction between guests, family and friends.

“Many of our guests don’t have the opportunity to interact or socialise with others who have an SCI in their daily lives, which can feel isolating at times. We have seen families form friendships and go on to book their next stays together. We like to think that our open-plan design and group activities create an environment where people can build meaningful bonds,” Dakin said.

The author of Penguin Bloom, Sam Bloom, said her visits to the resorts gym has helped build her confidence following an accident in Thailand. “Following the accident it took a lot of effort for me to regain my confidence and independence. Exercise helped me focus on improving my physical strength, but also made a big impact on how I was feeling mentally. I’m thankful that I have a facility like Sargood on Collaroy in close reach. I hope that more venues designed for people with SCI are developed in the future,” she said.

Para-alpine skier and winter Paralympian, Mark Soyer has also experienced the resort. “Through sport I have been lucky enough to extensively travel the world many times, I have seen nothing like it anywhere. Sargood has managed to take all medical-related requirements needed for someone with SCI, completely individualise them for each visitor while maintaining a 6-star resort feel,” he said.

The resort, which is located on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, is operated by Royal Rehab, a leading spinal injury rehabilitation service in NSW. It offers guests financial assistance via the Sargood Foundation, icare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Caption: Sargood on Collaroy visitor, 7 year old Jake Reeves, who has a spinal cord injury, celebrating the resort’s 2nd anniversary.