I'm a freelance travel writer living in Brisbane. Visit my blog at www.aussieglobetrotter.net.
Published May 1st 2016
The Spirit of Mother Earth is calling
Nestled in the Byron Bay hinterland is a 25-acre haven. With a focus on feeling renewed, refreshed and restored, Gaia Retreat and Spa has it all — scenic vistas, gourmet meals, yoga and an award winning day spa.
Arriving at Gaia, I sensed peace and serenity. I was only a two hour drive from Brisbane, yet I felt a world away. An ornate wooden gate leads to Kukura House, a large Samoan-style building, which houses the reception, lounge and restaurant.
I booked the 2 night Revive Package which includes all meals, a treatment valued at $145, a gift pack and a daily 90 minute yoga session. The package cost $1145.00.
Founded in 2005 by Gregg Cave, Ruth Kalnin, Olivia Newton-John and Warwick Evans, Gaia Retreat and Spa has won numerous awards including World's Best Day Spa 2015 in the World Spa Awards. This is no boot-camp style of health retreat. Gaia prides itself on choice and flexibility.
The rich tone from the brass gong invites guests to attend the various fitness activities. Yoga is popular and is held each morning at 7.30am. Other classes include high intensity workouts and core strength, perfect for building up an appetite.
The food is both nourishing and delicious. Each day begins with freshly squeezed juice. Breakfast may include a buffet of muesli, smoked salmon, fruit and porridge followed by potato, spinach, avocado and eggs. Lunch may consist of a chicken salad on a bed of baby quinoa with pomegranate and carrots; or a chickpea, lentil and yoghurt soup, bursting with Turkish flavours. Dinner is a three-course meal and organic wine is available.
I stayed in the Layana room. The room was comfortable and well appointed with an oil burner, fluffy robe, slippers, fresh fruit and water. For a more luxurious stay, book the Komala Villas that boast saltwater infinity plunge pools, a large private deck and their own treatment areas.
Two walking tracks follow the perimeter of the property, passing organic orchards, Woolemi trees, rainforest regeneration areas and the organic garden. There is also a tennis court, pool and fitness centre.
Herb, Fruit and Vegetable Garden
If that all sounds too much, the day beds dotted around the property offer spectacular views of the lush green valleys and the symphony of birdsong is delightful.
Wander through the tranquil surrounds to the heart of the Gaia experience: the multi award-winning spa. The Gaia Day Spa offers a diverse menu from massages, facials, body polishes and body masques to sound healing, meditation and acupuncture.
I enjoyed one of Gaia's signature treatments, a 3 hour 'Detox Deluxe'. This treatment aims to cleanse, balance and restore. Swapping my plush robe for a silk style kimono, I was led into a steam room with a dark blue ceiling and twinkling lights. My treatment began with an organic Sea Salt polish, followed by a body masque and a relaxing Hawaiian massage.
While the weekend was quite expensive, I departed Gaia feeling renewed, refreshed and restored. This was money well spent.