First-home buyer’s gain on former health retreat chalet

Designer Sofie Pringle and her engineer husband Stephen Bornstein have renovated a mountain chalet which was formerly part of the Golden Door health retreat. Picture: Nigel Hallett
First-home buyer Sofie Pringle was searching for an affordable renovator when she chanced upon a hinterland chalet which was once part of an iconic health retreat.
The unique two-bedroom, two-bathroom property at Willow Vale on the northern Gold Coast was located within the former Golden Door spa, which was briefly rebranded as the Biggest Loser fitness camp, linked to the first season of the TV reality show.
Latest PropTrack data highlighted Willow Vale among Queensland’s more affordable markets.
The median house price in the suburb known for its sprawling acreage lots and emerging housing estates was $665,000 in May, with 55 sales there over the past year compared to 28 in 2013.
The couple purchased the property in 2019. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Ms Pringle, a designer, said she and husband Stephen Bornstein, an engineer, purchased the strata-titled unit for $185,000 in 2019 and added a second bedroom and bathroom plus a kitchenette and laundry to create a charming mountain home comprising two self-contained living areas.
The couple recently listed the home at 9/400 Ruffles Rd for sale via an expressions of interest campaign with Harcourts Coastal agent, Russell Cosgrove.
“We went to lunch one day at a restaurant that used to be open there. We were on the market to buy our first place together and we found this chalet,” Ms Pringle said.
“The property itself and the surroundings were beautiful. The price point was quite attractive too — we bought it for an absolute steal.”
An ideal base for exploring
It was converted into two self-contained living areas
Ms Pringle said the reasonable purchase price left more in the budget to spend on the extension and renovation, which was inspired by the home’s bushland setting and its possibilities for exploration.
They lived in the chalet for two years and have since rented it out as short-term holiday accommodation for up to $350 a night.
“The styling and theming was inspired by the old world charm, when travellers used to set out exploring, and we called it The Wanderer’s Willow Chalet,” Ms Pringle said.
“It has a fascinating history and we’ve tried to embue that back into the design. We were even told there used to be a gold mine at the top of Wongawallan.”
It was rented out for short-term holiday accommodation
The chalet was once part of the Golden Door health retreat.
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She has since been commissioned to conceptualise renovations for owners of two other chalets within the community.
The Golden Door hosted international guests and celebrities such as rock star Sting during its heyday from 1993 before Singaporean investors Six Senses Mountain Resort bought the property in 2014.

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