Just over a month ago, I visited a beautiful luxe health retreat in the hinterlands of Byron Bay, Gaia. Gaia means spirit of Mother Earth, and the entire operation – from the hand-picked ingredients used to nourish us to the pristine grounds and fresh air all around us – embodies this philosophy. I chose the mother-daughter package, to enjoy some quality one-on-one time with my gorgeous mumma before the silly season and my wedding festivities, and to thank her for all she has done. It is a really lovely thing to do with your mum or sister, and we both really enjoyed this package. We felt well and truly pampered and rested by the end of it!
The moment I set foot on the property, I could feel it was special. There is no tranquility like that of green rolling hills, quietly rustling tall shady trees, happy birds and the trickle of a water fountain or two. That’s it! Literally, no building for the eye to see or highway for the ear to hear. It is pure, unadulterated quiet and serenity. The retreat is small and intimate, so there aren’t herds of people to-ing and fro-ing. No hall or elevator music as each room is it’s own little bungalow, accessed from the outdoors. The main dining area, yoga room, spa and pool area are all speckled around the property keeping everything just close enough whilst still encouraging a pleasant stroll through the grounds.
The days looked like this:
- A deep, vibrational gong to wake you up nice and early.
- They provide tea, a kettle, lemons and fruit to start the day right! Hot water with lemon for me.
- A morning yoga session.
- Breakfast of a cold buffet + a hot plate – they were very accomodating to our vegan request, and most meals were predominantly plant-based anyway.
- I’d then go for a walk around the property with mum, stopping off at the veggie garden and the scenic lookouts. One morning we walked in to Newrybar town, approx 40 mins each way. It’s a beautiful street to walk around with eclectic furniture and a gorgeous cafe, Harvest. You can also use the retreat bikes.
- There are mid morning activities to choose from, that change daily e.g. cooking class, skincare seminar, a workout, garden tour etc.
- Lunch was a la carte and always delicious! One giant plate of goodness, with lots of the ingredients fresh from the garden.
- In the afternoon spa treatments were usually scheduled, and I would head to the pool to enjoy a swim and a few laps before indulging in whatever spa treatment they had in store. Every single one was 10/10 amazing. One of the best spa’s I’ve ever been to!
- More lying by the pool reading and swimming. There is also a hot tub and sauna to make good use of.
- There is the option of an afternoon activity, similar to the morning options.
- Early dinner around 6pm – 3 courses! Never skipped dessert, it was too good!
- Maybe a tea to finish off the evening whilst I relaxed in the bath or read my book.
- Bedtime at 9pm… I slept so well here.
- The food – never missed a beat! Whether it was the incredible gluten-free porridge mix, the sautéed veg breakfast hot plate, an exotic blend of greens from the garden, light but insanely flavourful dressings and sauces, and incredibly crafted desserts, the meals were a true highlight. Honestly, it might be easy to overindulge what with a buffet for breakfast, a three course meal on offer for dinner and wine available on request, but my best tips are:
- take advantage of the turmeric shot at breakfast, skip the smoothie and opt for water or the veg juice, stick to one cold plate from the breakfast buffet (start with fruit) and make sure the hot plate is mostly veg, skip the snack table that is available all day (you should be eating enough at meals to get you through), enjoy your entire plate at lunch and the three courses available at dinner – opting to share dessert if you feel you want to stay on the lighter side, say no to wine for the entire stay! I think with the lack of snacking, keeping active and going to bed early, the food provided without the extra’s is just the right amount to nourish your body properly and showcase just how amazing healthy food can be. If going vegan is of interest you, this is definitely the place to try it out!
- The Spa + Retreatment – they use their own home-brand… Retreatment, beautifully crafted and thoughtfully put together with certified organic, cruelty-free, vegan, locally-sourced, active ingredients. I have been lucky enough to be using the full range and absolutely adore the white cypress mist, the H20 vita boost serum and the face dew moisturiser.
- Sound meditation – this was incredibly relaxing and healing for me. Not only stimulating auditory senses, but also kinaesthetic, as you feel the vibrations in your entire body. The sound bowls are made from precious materials from the earth such as quartz infused with jade and even white gold, and they make a unique, incredibly soothing sound. Do not miss this one!
- The garden – maybe it’s the mini gardener in me, but I have such huge appreciate for harvesting your own food. The garden tour was really great to learn some new tips and tricks and bring you closer to the food you find on your plate.
- Check in – can be any day, unlike other health retreats where you must start and finish at the same time as other guests. Gaia allows flexibility and ease so that you can slot in some R&R at a time that works best for you.
As you can see, I absolutely loved my time at Gaia, and highly recommend it for those looking for a holiday they don’t need a holiday from! There is no shortage of feel-good things to do or delicious food to eat, and you will feel nourished from the inside out after just a short stay. It truly is worth the money. I hope you find yourself there one day soon!
Light, love & good health,