My first experience at a wellness retreat turned out to be a life changer. Ready to tone it down after months of travelling… a visit to Gaia Retreat & Spa in northern New South Wales had been high on my to-do list for a while. I have sent some of my “in the know” clients to Gaia for years, all of whom had told me how wonderful it really was and they weren’t wrong!
Contemporary and comfortable accommodation discretely dotted throughout the property’s lush tropical gardens are the perfect retreats… think earthy tones in the furnishings with modern styled bathrooms. I was assigned a Sura Terrace room with its own deck and private outdoor king daybed which I loved though I hear the suites are fabulous too.
Gaia is first and foremost a retreat… you are here to relax and just “be” so leave the smart phone at home and the notebook too (but there is complimentary Wi-Fi in Kukura House if you need it).
Days started with Yoga at 7:30 in the yoga pavilion which comes with stunning hilltop views to the ocean beyond, a great start to the day! Then it was onto breakfast, where I became obsessed with the Gaia gluten-free porridge… the flavours changed daily, blueberries one day, banana and cinnamon the next (you can even take some home with you).
Every day they have scheduled activities you can choose to join… or not… like circuit training in the gym, meditation, pilates or even sound therapy. (I was told by a guest the cooking class was great too). Or perhaps design your own week retreat with Focus upgrades based around fitness, weight loss, detox and yoga.
I suggest you head off for a massage daily in the award-winning day spa just as I did with one of the fab team of intuitive therapists who in reality, are more like healers. No namby pamby, wispy massage strokes here, these are full force therapy driven treatments here at Gaia, all geared towards holistic wellness and stand out as the best I have ever had. Try Darby for the famous Ka Huna massage or Tim for a deep tissue massage (he fixed my shoulders!).
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD
Lunch was always a casual alfresco affair taken on the Tevana deck of Kakura house where I enjoyed the dish of the day… then it was off to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. This sybaritic slice of heaven is tucked towards the bottom of the property close to the spa. Lush and private, I could (and did) spend hours luxuriating here in perfect harmony.
Relaxed dinners nightly were another highlight of my stay. Guests would meet at Kukura House for pre dinner drinks (a selection of fine Australian wine is also available to accompany dinner upon request) then move on to eat at leisure. It’s a three course gourmet affair including fish, chicken and you can even order red meat if you wish. One evening I started with Spicy citrus marinated scallops with young ginger and coconut salad, followed by Macadamia crusted snapper, warrigal greens, celeriac with a lemon myrtle vinaigrette. Trust me… the food is superb, it not only tastes great, it looks good and is healthy too!
Gaia has a spa cuisine approach to wellness with most of the ingredients sourced from their very own organic garden and a variety of local suppliers. The food is simply fabulous and truly some of the best “resort” meals I have ever enjoyed, I never felt so good eating so much! Vegans and special dietary needs are fully catered for of course.
Aha moment: Meeting the beautiful Olivia Newton John and husband John at a dinner hosted by her good friend Gregg Cave the General Manger of Gaia (Gregg & Olivia are two of the owners of Gaia). Olivia had been in Australia for the opening of her Wellness Centre in Melbourne, and then took some time out at her perfect retreat Gaia… A night I won’t forget!
Make your reservation with me today… watch for my update on what’s hot in the surrounding area of Bangalow and Newrybar, right down the road from Gaia… coming up next on the blog.