Only a three-hour flight away from Auckland, the Gold Coast-Byron Bay area offers so much more than sea, surf, sand and sun. Close to the magnificent beaches, the lush hills and mountains of the hinterland provide the perfect base for a selection of luxury retreats each offering its own unique mix of ways to relax and rejuvenate — far from the bustle of the city and coast. One in particular, Gaia (spirit of mother earth), is known for providing stretch time for the soul, and the freedom just to stop and be.
Discovered by Olivia Newton-John and her close friend Gregg Cave, the retreat reflects Olivia’s personal style and connection with the environment, something with which she has always had a strong affinity.
They say that, when choosing a health resort, one should look for an experience that will stand the test of time; poised high on a hill overlooking the countryside and out to the ocean, Gaia, with its breathtaking landscapes, undulating vistas, impeccably manicured lawns, tennis courts, intriguing sculptures and comfy day beds at the best vantage points, is unforgettable in every way.
One could not find a more heavenly place to unwind.
You may stay at Gaia for only a few days (five days are recommended) but the effects are lasting. Whether you are grieving, dealing with or recovering from an illness, trying to give up smoking or wishing to consume less alcohol, going through a relationship break-up, or simply needing to reboot and rejuvenate, Gaia will embrace and support you in your quest.
The accommodation is flawless, inside and out. Every comfort one could wish for is taken care of, from the infinity plunge pool and private deck with views to die for, to the beautifully appointed living and sleep areas. Your suite will have you feeling a world away from your normal reality. Gaia is centred around Kukura House, an attractive Samoan-style longhouse, with beautifully carved wooden doors and tall ceilings; it is here that guests commune and delicious spa-cuisine-style meals are served.
Gaia Retreat & Spa gives you the chance to move out of your usual environment, reset your body and mind…
The entirely organic menu is tantalisingly good, with many of the ingredients coming from Gaia’s impressive vegetable and herb garden. Unless you have any special dietary requirements, the menu is a set one, changing daily. The food is abundant; though not much red meat is served, chicken and seafood are readily available. Although all the dishes served are ridiculously healthy and yummy, breakfasts at Gaia take the cake!! They are true culinary delights, especially after a delicious hour and a half of yoga.
There are activities aplenty. At the end of each day, during the evening meal, each guest is handed a card listing activities available the next day. On your card could be an early-morning yoga session, a cooking class, spa treatments and a core-strengthening workout. It is up to you whether you partake in what is on offer or simply choose to do your own thing – which could be lying by the pool with a book, playing hooky in the nearby artsy-craftsy village of Bangalow or visiting the famous Harvest café in Brooklet for an aromatic flat white.
The spa at Gaia is a dream come true. The setting, the sounds and the sensuous aromas all add to the exquisite sensory experience that is at the heart of the Gaia experience. Gaia is staffed by some of the finest healers and therapists in Australia, and the team delivers specialised treatments for men and women, which are both grounding and truly restorative. Choose from a menu of more-ish sounding treatments like the four-hands massage (pure magic) or the intuitive massage (so special). Apart from the usual spa fare, treatments like hypnotherapy and psych-counselling sessions are also on offer. The comprehensive menu offers a lot of choice and a wide variety of price points.
This slice of paradise gives you the chance to move out of your usual environment, reset your body and mind, and learn how to craft a lifestyle that will support healthy behaviour for years to come. Gaia Retreat & Spa promises lasting memories of lessons learnt, conversations had and a time when all that mattered was you. It truly is one for the bucket list.
Words: F Harrison
DEFINITELY WORTH IT
The food was incredibly healthy, breakfast being my favourite! Home-made muesli, nuts, bee pollen, seeds of all description, fresh salmon, tomatoes and avocado, grainy bread and fresh juices!
(Alcohol was available at dinner on request as was organic coffee at any time during the day.)
I booked in for a deep-tissue massage and was asked if I would like to experience an ‘intuitive massage’. I loved it! Hot oil running over my back, rubbed in and massaged.
It was soothing and I felt totally at ease and relaxed. At the end of the massage, the masseuse then told me a little about myself: incredibly ‘intuitive’ words she spoke about me!
My highlight was meeting a very inspirational 38-year-old Australian woman who was at Gaia as a guest — she was there because, sadly, she has Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was trying to work her life out. She was admitting to me and to herself that her work/life balance was and had been totally out of kilter! That’s something we must all listen to. I will stay in touch with her.
The staff was exceptional: remembering your name and making you feel as though you were the only guest at Gaia!