Initially I was unsure about whether or not I would ever be lucky enough to bag myself a bargain by signing up for the online phenomenon that is groupon/ourdeal/livingsocial/etc.com. Little did I know just how many great deals there are to be had! My favourite so far is the 'golden ticket' that led me to the Golden Door in Queensland.
Many of my friends in Adelaide have been lucky enough to take time out from their busy lives to head over to sunny Queensland and treat themselves to staying at the various health retreats that are available. When initially told about these places, the image of wealthy, stuck up, gym junkies came to mind. Skinny, well dressed people swanning around, having massages and manicures, personal training sessions and eating vegan food. Why would I expose my middleclass, un-toned self to their judgement?
Then came the unexpected voucher in my inbox which was way too good to pass up. I managed to sweet talk my husband into letting me leave him behind for a week - single father with a daughter; booked a week off work and before I knew it, I was on the 7am flight to Brisbane. After all, I deserved it. Mother of 1, working full time, household to run, family to keep happy - life was exhausting, it was time for me to get some massages and join the 'gym junkies'.
I arrived at the Brisbane airport baggage carousel to catch the bus, one of about 30 unsuspecting, wide eyed guests of 'the door'. We were all checking each other out, offering polite smiles and quiet hellos. We collected our room keys and name badge from the Golden Door staff, signed some paperwork, then got on the bus to what would be our home for the next 5 days. Once on the bus we were each offered an apple for morning tea, and so it began.
About an hours drive from the airport, the Golden Door health retreat is a sanctuary in the Queensland hinterland. The air is cleaner, it's quiet and upon arriving you immediately feel like you have left all of your cares at the airport.
The 'newbies' (those who have never been lucky enough to stay at 'the door' before) had a quick welcome get together, a tour of the retreat facilities and a brief introduction to the week ahead. Then we each went to our chalets yes, chalets! The accommodation is set amongst the trees, you are immersed in nature and it is just breathtaking. We made a quick change out of our civilian clothes and into our gym gear which we would spend the rest of the week in. No more suits or uncomfortable high heels, more importantly, no more mobile phones (permitted in the confines of your chalet only), one of the many contraband items at the retreat, the others included caffeine, alcohol, drugs and sugar.
Our first meal was lunch and it was like a gift from heaven, considering that all we had eaten was an apple and my usual chocolate muesli bar was now forbidden. This was also the perfect opportunity to introduce ourselves to fellow diners, talk about why we were there and what we wanted to get out of our week. The people were fantastic and not the least bit like what I had imagined they would be. Everyone had a story, whether it was that they were work-a-holics, addicts, busy mothers or fathers, were suffering from an illness (or were getting over one), carers of sick family members, and some who just wanted to kick start a healthier lifestyle.
We were given a quick physical examination by the fantastic staff in the afternoon, discussed with them our goals for the week and told them which of the delectable spa treatments we wanted to experience during the week.
Each evening we were given our list of activities for the following day, including our treatments that we hand picked. The range of things to do was fantastic, something for everyone, these included Zumba, boxing, yoga, Pilates, meditation, bush walks, spin class, deep water running, Tai Chi and much more. Now these things we can all try at our local gym, but the Golden Door also offers some amazing activities that aren't as easily accessible 'back home'. You might need to do what I did and Google some of these, but after trying most of them I can't recommend enough that you open your mind and allow yourself to try them out. For the mind and body there was Feldenkrais, Kung Fu, Qi Gong, belly dancing, fever dance, flower readings and my personal favourite, going Tribal.
Most of the staff at the Golden Door have been working there for a minimum of 10 years, showing dedication to the retreat and a love for helping people to embrace a healthier, more relaxed lifestyle. The food was amazing, who knew that a meal low in carbs and without sugar could actually taste so good! Just to reassure you, there are no starvation tactics at 'the door'. You are provided with 5 meals a day breakfast, lunch and dinner and morning and afternoon tea (you even get dessert on one of the evenings).
Your week also includes daily information sessions on things such as nutrition, women's health, men's health, how to love and be loved, stress management, breathing yes, it appears that many of us have forgotten to do one of the most basic things in life breathe.
Your week at the Golden Door really is a journey.
I went there feeling tired, stressed and stuck in a rut. I came home feeling renewed, happy and ready to put all the things that I had learnt into action in my daily life. Starting with my promise to read a story to my Daughter every night and to start doing something that I love which is writing so thank you Weekendnotes!
The Golden Door is a place to go to remember who you are, to put yourself first and to experience a few things that might be outside of your comfort zone. The amazing group of people who I shared this amazing week with was made up of a 19 year old student, a 20 something Chef, many 30 something mums and dads, business owners, CEOs, a yoga instructor and retirees. So many stories, so much experience and so much to learn.
The cost includes your accommodation, all meals, all activities and some spa treatments. Entertainment books offer a discount (check the terms and conditions). Online vouchers are one in a million so sign up now and if you are lucky enough to spy a deal for the Golden Door, what ever you do, don't let it pass you by (if you miss out on the voucher, don't let that stop you either)!
Thank you for your comments, as I too am considering attending but am unsure.
I wondered if you recalled which provider you received the voucher from & what the discount was, as I'd like to keep an eye out.