Here are the eight best health and wellness properties in Australia, as voted by our readers in the 2017 Gold List Awards.
1. Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, QLD
The view from the pool at Gwinganna.
Hidden away in the Tallebudgera Valley, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat offers a range of tailored wellness programs in stunning natural surroundings. The retreat features a three-level nurturing spa, a mind and body pavilion, and an amphitheatre used for outdoor gatherings and music.
Guests at Gwinganna can choose from five set programs ranging from a two-night quick retreat to an extended seven-night Gwinganna Detox. Activities include morning yoga, stretch, or meditation classes and a range of bush walks taking in spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Guests are encouraged to end their day at the 33-room spa or dining on a meal made from organic ingredients grown on site.
2. Golden Door Health Retreat Elysia, Hunter Valley, NSW
The lobby of Golden Door Health Retreat Elysia.
Nestled among the scenic vineyards of the Hunter Valley, Golden Door Health Retreat Elysia offers several different wellness packages, ranging from two- to seven-night stays. Guests can choose from a variety of different fitness classes and mind-body seminars, from yoga and tai chi to boxing and water polo.
The programs also offer seminars to educate guests about wellness philosophy and assist them in the creation of a personalised wellness plan that can be maintained once they leave the retreat. Even mealtimes are an exercise in mindfulness, with guests encouraged to eat communally without the distractions of technology. Facilities at the retreat include two pools, basketball and tennis courts, a lounge, and a library. The spa offers 26 treatment rooms as well as private sun gardens and a relaxation lounge.
Tip: Golden Door is offering 25% off all five and seven night programs during July and August (see more here).
3. Gaia Retreat & Spa, NSW
The sun rises behind a Buddha statue at Gaia Health Retreat and Spa.
While Byron Bay is mostly known as a trendy beach destination, high above the shoreline in the Bundjalung hinterlands lies an isolated bush retreat which was once Aboriginal women’s birthing land. It is here that you will find Gaia Retreat and Spa. The property draws on the healing energy of the sacred land, offering retreats centred around yoga, massage, organic meals and spa treatments using the resort’s own specially created GAIA products. The spa features a salt water pool, sauna, and 14 treatments rooms as well as over 30 spa therapists offering a range of Gaia speciality massages such as The Royal Kahuna that is a combination of movement, dance, energy and rhythm.
4. Eden Health Retreat, QLD
Close enough to the Gold Coast for an easy transfer but far away enough for true solitude, Eden Health Retreat sits amongst the lush greenery of the Currumbin Valley. The location makes walking a core element of most programs, with the surrounding area offering a web of different walking trails taking in well-known landmarks such as Mount Cougal and Boyds Butte.
Eden’s philosophy is to provide a serene environment for those looking to improve their health. Each program offers unique activities, but they are all-inclusive and give guests access to all facilities, including a gymnasium, tennis courts, sauna, and swimming pool for guests’ leisure use. The eco-friendly rainforest lodges feature immense windows showcasing valley views, while the Valley View Deluxe and Eden Suites also include a luxurious tub.
5. Billabong Retreat, NSW
Afternoon tea at Billabong.
Just 45 minutes outside Sydney, family-run Billabong Retreat is the passion project of husband and wife team Paul and Tory von Bergen. The retreat offers a selection of yoga and mindfulness retreats for guests looking for a city reprieve. Guests spend their days attending yoga and meditation classes, swimming in the billabong, stopping by the spa for a treatment, hiking through the bushland or relaxing in the communal outdoor living space by the fireplace. On Friday mornings, the retreat holds naturopathy seminars that aim to teach guests strategies to improve their health.
At mealtimes, guests dine together on the balcony overlooking the property, choosing from a buffet-style selection of curries, soups and hearty salads prepared by chef Angie Cowen. Every meal is gluten free, vegetarian and made using local and organic produce.
6. Empire Retreat, WA
Surrounded by the vineyards of the Margaret River Wine Region with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean, Western Australia’s Empire Retreat gives guests the chance to escape for a weekend of wine and relaxation.
The property started life as an old farmhouse and was transformed into a bed and breakfast by owners Perry and Jill Coleman before finally being expanded into a 10 villa private retreat complete with a day spa. The recently refurbished villas overlook limitless vineyards and gardens while the EMPIRE Spa offers bathing suites complete with freestanding stone baths, a steam room and rainforest shower suites. Guests can spend their days exploring the property’s vineyards, lunching at the award winning Vasse Felix Winery or simply relaxing with a book and a glass of wine by the fire.
7. Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel, VIC
The exterior of Peppers Mineral Springs.
For over 75 years the Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel has offered a quiet getaway in the heart of the village of Hepburn Springs. The hotel’s original 1930’s architecture has been renovated to combine modern styles and elegant touches surrounded by manicured gardens as well as a hedge maze open for exploration.
Accommodation options at the hotel are spread throughout the main building, in the surrounding gardens, and at the Mineral Springs Hotel that offers a selection of multi-level villas. Villa Parma, the resort’s highest accommodation, is a 19th century property that can house up to eight guests.
Retreat packages are purchased alongside room bookings and the Mineral Spa offers classic spa treatments as well as signature treatments by Pevonia Botanica and Li’Tya. The soft pack beds, an experience exclusive to the Mineral Spa, is a treatment that cocoons guests in a water heated blanket as a spa specialist lowers the bed to create a warm, floating feeling.
8. Samadhi Retreat, VIC
One of the spa treatment rooms at Samadhi Retreat.
Eight minutes outside Daylesford and Hepburn Springs in the heart of Victoria’s spa country lies Samadhi Retreat, a two-wing building that caters to just one guest or party at a time. The retreat’s philosophy is to heal and nurture the body, mind, and spirit.
Samadhi offers a variety of different programs and can tailor them to guests’ needs. The retreat specialises in Life Enhancement and Health programs that help guests with lifestyle changes. Guests can also choose a one or two-night spa or rejuvenation escape package for a weekend at the spa. Samadhi’s JPS Magnetic Field Therapy treatment uses technology to pinpoint the causes of pain and generates a low magnetic field that helps speed up the body’s natural healing process. For those looking to alleviate emotional troubles, the retreat uses guided imagery, an alternative treatment involving imagination and interpretation.