Ever wondered what it's like to go to a health retreat? We've previously compared two of Australia's best wellness retreats and you can read the verdict here. Our guide will help you decide which retreat is best for you.
Each year we arrange for a bunch of like-minded ladies to take some time out and escape to luxury at a wellness retreat and we opted to return to Gaia Retreat again with gusto!
Gaia Retreat is co-owned by Olivia Newton-John and long-time friend Gregg Cave and located in the Byron Bay Hinterland around 2 hours from Brisbane or 20 minutes from Ballina Airport. Gaia provided transfers as part of the package for our interstate guests, making access a breeze. The retreat is majestically poised on the highest point in the region and boasts a dramatic backdrop of undulating hills and green valleys that have a calming and transformational affect on all who visit.
Gaia Retreat is quite simply heaven on earth and here's why. It's luxurious, delicious, relaxing, rejuvenating...it's total bliss.
It's easy to feel instantly relaxed at Gaia, from the moment you pass through the ornately carved wooden gates, meander through the lush gardens and check in at Kukura House, you know you've arrived somewhere special. Our tip, pack light you'll end up living in active wear, swimmers and wrapping yourself luxuriously in the batic robes all day, despite the stylish and luxurious surrounds the retreat is not pretentious, it's a no-make-up, wear-your-tracksuit-pants all-day kinda place, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Gaia has recently undergone a facelift including new soft furnishings in the main house and restaurant, fabulous hanging chairs on the verandah, new paths throughout the retreat and some upgrades around the pool & day spa area. Regular guests will notice the subtle changes, but it has still retained the same peaceful Gaia vibe.
Gaia is a retreat where you can literally hand all the decision-making over to the staff and focus on reconnecting with yourself and nature. Prior to arrival you complete a wellness form outlining your health concerns and food preferences plus pre-booking your spa treatments. All that pre-planning allows for bespoke gourmet meals tailored to your dietary requirements and a handwritten card presented each evening outlining your personalised activities for the day ahead. It's this level of personal service that sets Gaia apart.
Image credit: B. Billing
Daily 90-minute yoga restores the balance and the surprising highlight of the weekend's activities was the sound meditation session. Sound meditation you say? It is the practice of using ancient Tibetan instruments to clear your mind and bring you into a deep state of meditation. As the instructor musically plays the crystal bowls, then a hypnotic pan flute and then breaks into song, it's truly magical. I know it sounds all new age woowoo, but it's quite simply magical!
We also participated in an art therapy class where we were encouraged to peacefully paint a rock inspired by the journey that lead us to Gaia and then sculpt two art pieces, one representing what is holding us back and the other about letting it go. It was an emotional journey for the group and an unexpected bonding exercise, which left us feeling lighter and focused.
Between activities, lazing by the sun-dappled pool is the order of the day here. Our group alternates between reading by the pool, soaking up the sunshine and popping in to the day spa for endless heavenly treatments. We may never leave!
One of the true pleasures of Gaia is the food, as each and every meal is nourishing, inventive and changes daily chosen by the chef. Breakfast is a buffet laden with seasonal fruit, muesli, smoked salmon, avocado, tomatoes and more plus an abundance of super food toppings to sprinkle over everything – bee pollen anyone? But wait, there's more...a delicious hot breakfast follows your buffet grazing, so leave some room. Organic coffee is available on request so you don't have to go without your caffeine hit. Lunch is a flavour packed salad or pasta dish of a million different ingredients you wouldn't have a hope of recreating at home despite being able to purchase a Gaia Cookbook. Dinner is the main event with three delicious courses by candlelight and you can order wine from an impressive organic selection.
Whether your intention is to lose weight, detoxify, destress, get fit or maybe you just need peace and serenity to regain balance; Gaia provides everything you need to help you on your path. You'll feel comfortable here alone, with a friend or partner or with a small group. It's an inspiring and nurturing retreat in a peaceful setting. It's quite simply the most relaxing retreat you can hope to find, with everyone in our group vowing to return soon.
All inclusive packages including two nights accommodation, all gourmet meals and snacks, morning yoga and all scheduled activities, $250 spa voucher per room, spa gift pack and use of all facilities start from around $500 per person per night, twin share minimum 2 night stay.