NSW: Golden Door Elysia Health Retreat and Spa
Best for: Learning to reset within a friendly communal environment.
Who’s checking in? Couples, weekend re-setters, as well as those who have experienced trauma. With a predominantly female clientele, it has a 40 per cent return guest rate.
What’s on offer? Set on 10 hectares in the Hunter Valley, Golden Door’s signature morning ritual is its Tai Chi Qigong movement at sunrise atop Meditation Hill, which you can follow with a guided walk through the bushland or a swim class. Activities are available all day, which suits those on shorter programs, and one of the retreat’s key foundations is its communal dining. “It’s a sense of community, of being connected,” says Jaye Hoelscher, Head of Guest Experiences at Golden Door Elysia. “Some people come to heal after trauma or illness, and they see they are not alone.” The daily program can include speciality interests, from weight management to developing leadership skills. There are indoor and outdoor pools and tennis courts, where you can correct your stroke, and its evening seminars see internationally acclaimed speakers’ topics ranging from positive psychology to gut health, managing depression or rewiring your brain’s approach to food. Golden Door Elysia Health Retreat and Spa was recently named Australia and Oceania’s Best Wellness Retreat in the 2018 World Spa Awards.
Come home feeling: Inspired to set new goals, and armed with knowledge, recipes as well as coping techniques to avoid slipping back into bad old ways.
Get in touch: 165 Thompsons Road, Pokolbin NSW, (02) 4058 2737, goldendoor.com.au
Price: A three-night Motivate for Change program includes accommodation, all meals, group fitness, daily seminars and relaxation classes. From $1825 per person, twin share. Check online for seasonal discounts.
QLD: Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
Best for: Experimenting with alternative healing therapies.
Who’s checking in? Jetsetters looking to reset, the wired and tired, parents bringing their 18-year-olds, those affected by grief or loss. The demographic has evolved to be more than just weight-loss programs, and half of all attendees are returning guests.
What’s on offer? With a cult following among celebs, there are about 15 therapies exclusive to Gwinganna, such as Japanese Rockupuncture (hot stone acupuncture) and the hugely popular equine therapy. Days are structured around energetic mornings, such as an early Qi Gong session or a bushwalk spotting koalas on the 200-hectare property on the southern Gold Coast, while afternoons are set aside for restoration, which could be spa treatments or just the bliss of a guilt-free nap. Focus on prevention, or focus on the “triple s”: stress, sugar and sleep, with a brace of counsellors and nutritionists, accessorised with organic meals that include produce grown on the property. All are served on communal tables, which helps people connect, and creates curiosity, says Gwinganna’s wellness director Sharon Kolkka. Make time for the calming and healing amethyst crystal steam room and the outdoor deck in the 33-room, rainwater-fed spa, which is reportedly Australia’s largest.
Come home feeling: Rejuvenated and touched by nature.
Get in touch: 192 Syndicate Rd, Tallebudgera Valley, Qld, (07) 5589 5000, gwinganna.com
Price: Two-night wellness weekends cost from $1045 a person, twin share.
Best for: Yoga and Ayurvedic healing.
Who’s checking in? Margaret River locals mix with an international set from Singapore and Hong Kong, jetting in for a rural respite.
What’s on offer? Don’t expect a set program at Premalaya. Its total mind-body approach includes a focus on self-love and better mental health, matched with nutrition and lifestyle changes. You’ll find twice-daily yoga classes in the studio. It offers a range of themed weekends from affordable couples weekends to holistic hens’ packages, as well as special-interest retreats, such as reiki, genetic alchemy and deep sound healing using sacred digeridoo music. And you’ve got to love a wellness retreat that partners with local wineries!
Come home feeling: Rebalanced through its Ayurvedic kitchen, oils and herbal preparations, including a focus on good gut health with the classic Triphala tonic.
Get in touch: 1701 Wildwood Rd, Yallingup, WA, (08) 9756 6460, premalaya.com.au
Price: A two-night retreat including yoga, massage and Ayurvedic meals costs from $500.
TAS: Saffire Freycinet
Best for: Creating lifelong memories and a connection to the land.
Who’s checking in? Couples from all life stages,
who are big fans of this luxury lodge.
What’s on offer? A connection to place is the key to Saffire, which is set on Tasmania’s Coles Bay, overlooking the beautiful Freycinet Peninsula. And the connection is as strong as it is innovative: massages with hot stones drawn from the mountains around you, foods from Tasmania’s bountiful farms, spa treatments using local clay and lavender, Tassie honey in the teas and spa treatments, and custom-made spa products created in conjunction with Australia’s LaGaia brand. The spa offerings are balanced by active experiences that integrate you into the surrounds: hikes to the celebrated Wineglass Bay lookout, kayaking, walks on Maria Island. There are just 20 accommodation suites at Saffire, which is one of Australia’s signature destinations.
Come home feeling: Like you’ve escaped to the wilderness.
Get in touch: 2352 Coles Bay Rd, Coles Bay, Tas, 1800 723 347, saffire-freycinet.com.au
Price: From $2200 a night, includes a $100 credit for spa treatments or experiences.
VIC: Samadhi Health and Wellness Retreat & Spa
Best for: Looking inward, to prepare for life changes.
Who’s checking in? Those looking for absolute one-on-one attention. There are just four cottages on site, catering to only one group of four, or even one individual at a time, for ultimate privacy and exclusivity.
What’s on offer? This celebrated boutique retreat is located in Daylesford, in Victoria’s spa country. Its customised programs ensure its therapies go deep, to get results. This is where you go to let down your guard, and every personal healing experience is bespoke and intimate. With Samadhi on the retreat scene for the past 16 years, owners Annah and Wayne Mirananda take a holistic approach to personal healing, with life management coaching, mentoring and spiritual wellness techniques to round out the physical experiences of yoga and meditation, plus there’s nutrition advice and relaxing spa therapies. Try their sound therapy, which leads you into deep meditation, and team your stay with taking the waters in Daylesford’s renowned mineral springs.
Come home feeling: Purposeful, unencumbered and emotionally free.
Get in touch: Daylesford, Vic (private map link provided after booking), (03) 5348 7926, samadhiretreat.com.au
Price: Two-night rejuvenation programs cost from $1050 a person, twin share.
VIC: Woodman Estate
Best for: Marrying traditional spa therapies with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Who’s checking in? Digital detoxer couples and singles.
What’s on offer? A traditional manor set amid rose gardens and lawns, it might be a surprise to find a Chinese herbal dispensary at Woodman Estate, offering acupuncture and TCM by registered practitioners. You can build an itinerary with an initial 90-minute TCM consultation, then add on a diet assessment (its Re-energiser menu goes easy on the wheat and dairy), or focus on specific ailments, such as muscle pain. Experiment with electro-acupuncture, cupping or TCM therapy, add a touch of meditation, tai-chi and yoga, go sailing, play tennis or just enjoy its 20 hectares of bushland and lake to quieten the mind. To add another layer, the estate is 30 minutes’ drive from the Peninsula Hot Springs, with its vast range of bathing experiences drawn from around the world – from Turkish hammams to Japanese onsens.
Come home feeling: Focused on change, and spoiled by its traditional spa treatments, including facials and mud wraps.
Contact: 6 Graydens Rd, Moorooduc, Vic, (03) 5978 8455, woodmanestate.com
Get in touch: Offering three, five or seven-day Re-energisers. The three-night stay includes accommodation, meals, one massage and one session with a personal trainer, from $1558, twin share (singles and triple share also available).
NSW: Billabong Retreat
Best for: Alleviating stress, rebalancing, re-energising.
Who’s checking in? Mainly women: friends, mothers and daughters, escapees from the corporate world.
What’s on offer? Renowned for its yoga, its 3000-year-old teachings form the framework at this 30-bed retreat, 45 minutes north-west of Sydney’s CBD. Blended with meditation and nutrition programs, stress management and mindfulness, its signature events are four-day yoga retreats that can be layered with reiki, hypnotherapy and body rebalancing using kinesiology – a muscle-testing modality. Staying is just the beginning. The aim is for you to leave with skills you can repeat daily, be it a 30-second reminder to be kind to yourself, to a short breathing meditation or a physical posture. Billabong runs 12 programs through the year, including levels of meditation, yoga and mindfulness, as well as self-care and nutrition, with an emphasis on gut health.
Come home feeling: Content and peaceful of mind, with a zest for life.
Contact: 41 McClymonts Road, Maraylya, (02) 4573 6080, billabongretreat.com.au
Price: Two-night all-inclusive stay in private ensuite cabin from $550pp all inclusive (based on twin share midweek), includes all meals and snacks, twice-daily yoga, meditation and your retreat program.