I was a guest of Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat*
It may have been five and a half years since I’d driven up the very steep driveway that leads to Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat but those five plus years disappeared in a breath. Specifically a deep breath.
Deep breaths being the only kind of breathing encouraged at this little slice of mind and body heaven.
My first visit all those years ago had been life changing for me. The “space” that weekend created in my life allowed me to see I could make changes to my work situation and set in train the path that has lead me to the best job I’ve ever had – this one.
Only time will tell what will unfold as a result of my latest weekend at this Gold Coast hinterland retreat but in the short term, I’m sitting here three days later feeling inspired to focus on a very busy two months ahead where I’ll be splitting my working week between blogging and writing my book.
I’ve also been up before dawn each morning to get moving and get the day started with more energy than I’ve had for months. A big part of being able to do that is actually getting to bed early in the first place but I’m working on it.
My “Wellness” weekend at Gwinganna had been organised for some time and I actually planned it so I’d arrive having done a five-week food and alcohol detox in the lead up.
When I sipped on my first taste of wine since the beginning of July (yes! A health retreat that serves wine**), I breathed another deep breath … thankful I hadn’t lost the taste for it during my abstinence!
The Cullen red (biodynamic WA wine) was served up with amazing company (most weekend retreaters are women and come on their own or with a girlfriend, sister or mum), incredible food and a big dose of mountain air that had us all
yawning yearning for our beds by 8.30pm but not before Kay, the weekend manager, outlined how the rest of the weekend would pan out.
Gwinganna offers options for all levels of health and fitness. No activity is compulsory. In fact the only compulsory thing is spending the hours of 2-7pm doing as little as possible, preferably in the spa.
If you’re getting a bit of an indication as to why this is my kind of health retreat, humour me as I run through my 7 reasons to love Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat.
1. Gwinganna is an Eco Certified retreat and has the Australian Tourism T-Qual tick of approval. Almost 100% of all food served is organic; and the fruits, vegetables and herbs used by chefs are grown on site.
2. Mornings on the mountain are so worth getting up for. In winter that means a knock on your door at 5.45am and Qi Gong watching the sun rise over the Gold Coast at 6.15am.
3. Afternoons are all about Dreamtime. Translated, that means do whatever you’d like. Me? I positioned myself at the award-winning spa, a natural habitat for spa rats like myself. How’s this for an entrance? The water stops as you get closer, letting you through before streaming again.
In between treatments, afternoon tea is served in the lounge. Hello raw date, cacao and almond slice!
4. The spa menu is extensive. You’ll find all the usual spa offerings from facials to relaxation massages but my hot tip*** to you is book and try something a little different. This is what Gwinganna specialises in. I started the weekend with a Reiki Crystal Healing on Friday afternoon (there may have been snoring – it was that relaxing and as perfect a way to get on Gwinganna time as quickly as possible) and Saturday afternoon experienced probably the most powerful massage I’ve ever experienced – Integrated Massage Therapy with Stephen Canning. Stephen didn’t mess around getting in and sorting me out. This is not the massage for you if you like a soft, gentle touch. It’s a massage that combines remedial, deep tissue, reflexology, breathing techniques and energy healing to leave you “worked” but with a mind so clear you think anything is possible. I rounded off the afternoon having a tarot card reading with Jacky, who was spot on in her assessment of where I and my family are at. In fact in all three “treatments” I received similar messages that I’ve taken on board back in the real world.
The days are not only broken up by activities – relaxing and energetic – they’re peppered with food stops. Far from average food stops. And food stops with a view.
5. Every meal is mind-blowingly good. And there was plenty of it. Good whole organic food served up in interesting flavour combinations just can’t be beat. I’ve dusted off my Gwinganna cookbook and recreating some old and new favourites for the family.
6. Gwinganna is made up of new buildings and re-located heritage buildings – I spent a bit of time here at the cricket pavilion. Not watching cricket, just posting some Instagram images. This is about the only spot you get 3 or 4G coverage which fits in nicely with the retreat’s digital detox philosophy.
7. There are a number of different accommodation options – all come with comfortable beds and crisp white sheets. There is no roughing it here. Last time I stayed in the Orchid Suites. This time I had to pinch myself as I walked into this Signature Villa (there are other villas on site that include a private plunge pool). It was huge, stunning and came with a stand-alone tub and steam room. I think these rooms and the pool villas would really come into their own on a longer stay with a partner. I did, however, make FULL use of the facilities in my 48 hours. You know, purely for research purposes.
A Wellness Weekend may be just a taste of what Gwinganna offers in its longer programs but, for me, it was the ideal escape when time is at a premium. The program is designed so that you re-charge and perhaps take on board some simple health and wellbeing tips that will serve you well until you next return.
And return I will.
Gwinganna Lifetyle Retreat is located in the Gold Coast hinterland, Queensland, Australia, about 30 minutes from the Gold Coast airport and 60 minutes from Brisbane.
Two-night Wellness Weekend packages start from $980 (per person sharing double accommodation) and include a 50 minute classic massage (you can upgrade this to another treatment), all meals, activities, transfers to and from the Gold Coast Airport and a wellness seminar. There are some speciality weekends coming up that might interest too.
Want to know what to pack? Here’s what I wore.
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED
I did a little shopping at the Gwinganna store while I was there and I thought I’d put together a prize pack for one lucky Styling You reader. The pack includes: the Gwinganna … from garden to gourmet cookbook; Gwinganna Signature Tea; iKou body lotion; iKou bath soak. Total prize value: $130
To enter, answer this question in the comments below:
What’s the one thing you’d like to change about your health right now?
Entries open on Wednesday August 14 at 6am and close on Wednesday August 21 at 5pm. Australian entries only, sorry. The winner will be judged on originality and creativity. They will be emailed and their name will be published here. Entrants must include an email address when the filling in the commenting system below to be eligible to enter. Full terms and conditions, here.
* I was not paid or obligated to write this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
** One 100ml glass of wine is offered on each of the Friday and Saturday nights of weekend programs. Mid-week programs are alcohol free.
*** My second hot tip in relation to the spa is to book your treatments when you confirm your accommodation. They won’t be confirmed until your arrival but you’ve got the best chance of getting what you’d like if you strategise this way.