Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat Signature Villa

7 reasons to love Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

Nikki ParkinsonHealth, Life, Travel 58 Comments

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.

7 reasons to love Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

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.

Gwinganna - organic garden

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.

Gwinganna | qi gong

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.

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat - Spa

In between treatments, afternoon tea is served in the lounge. Hello raw date, cacao and almond slice!

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat - Spa

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.

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat - Spa

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.

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

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. Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat - food

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.

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

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.

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat Signature Villa

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat Signature Villa

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 Lifestyle Retreat Signature Villa

More information

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.



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

Gwinganna prize

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.


Comments 58

  1. I am quite happy with my exercise regime, however sometimes struggle to be motivated to cook super healthily.The lovely ladies at my local Fernwood gym highly recommend the Gwinganna cook book, so perhaps this is what I need to kick my butt into gear!

  2. The one thing I would change about my health is my mind, which is clouded andfull of doubt and self-criticism. I really believe a healthy body starts with a healthy mind – attitudes, beliefs and emotions all affect the way we behave!

  3. So I was going to enter, but hey, things here seem minimal compared to the challenges some people are facing – and so much monkey mind out there. Take care of yourself people – there is only one you!!! And breathe! Nikki – you are so generous with your time and posts – thank you.

  4. I am striving increase my excercise and improve my diet with healthier more natural choices hoping to come off medications for high bloodd pressure and high cholesterol.

  5. I would really like to increase my energy levels and enthusiasm for life – motivation is a bit low right now and I really need to ramp it up and get back in the game. When I’m energised, there’s a twinkle in my eye and I’m happy and more creative. I want that girl back!

  6. It is time for me to begin reflecting on the past and refocussing on the future. Next year I will see all my children in formal education and my youngest three year old twin boys will begin kindy at C and K for five days a fortnight. It will provide me with the opportunity to stop, breathe, work out what is important for me and my family and which direction we will be heading over the coming days, months and years!!

  7. I need to move more, to really move and sweat and get my blood and heart going. I’ve got a toddler and three-month-old baby and I can just never find the time for me to even go for a walk! It feels selfish at this stage and pretty much impossible, but I’m going to make it a priority.

  8. Making time for me. As a working mother of 2 just making time for myself is a challenge! Just to go for a walk or excercise without those constant 2 little voices would be nice 😉

  9. I’d be moving my winter weight with some time on the treadmill. I started yesterday… managed 15 minutes. Trying not to be dispirited – 15minutes is surely better than no minutes? Isn’t it?? I want to feel better about myself – be healthy, and happy, and more energetic and keep the old kilos in check (boring little game, isn’t it?!)

  10. Right now, to be tumour free! I started my six-week course of radiotherapy today (introducing suffocating, personalised mask). I survived and I will beat this thing, but it’s going to take some fighting!! Be warned, I have my boxing gloves on!

  11. I’m desperate to improve my immune system so I can be the best version of myself for my family. Over the past four months I have basically lived at the doctors and have had numerous courses of ineffective antibiotics. So many parts of my life have been effected and it directly relates back to my ill health. I want to replenish my body with advice on how to start and maintain a clean unprocessed diet and tips on how to include a relaxing excercise plan into my time poor life which is I feel is always dominated by everyone else’s needs.

  12. I’d love to learn to turn off that constant voice reminding me of everything I’ve got to do so I can get a good, full night’s sleep.

  13. As I settle into the new routines and body-awareness of being in my mid-thirties, I’m learning more about my sleep patterns, and what to avoid or add to my life to make the most of my downtime. I’d love to spend time with professionals, working out a rhythm to get my body re-energising and ready for each new day.

  14. That sounds like a beautiful weekend away. I like the idea of just stopping between 2-7pm. My biggest health concern? I’m over thinking the big and small stuff! I feel like I’m not grounded anymore, like a tree that has been hit by a storm. And when not overthinking things, just so busy doing. I need to refocus, be still and get grounded. Get real! Oops, probably need to get some sleep before this turns into an essay! Lol

  15. Oh Nikki that looks so fab, I’d love to go there one day. I hope it’s okay to comment without entering the comp – I need to return to healthier eating habits for more energy and get back in shape after putting on a bit of weight over winter, basically cutting out (almost all) sugar again, and getting moving more often! xx

  16. I have a daily battle with the snooze button on my alarm. I’ve never been a ‘morning person’, but I’d really like to change that and start rising with the sun!

  17. I need to keep tinkering, keep working at being my best, most healthy self.
    And do pilates regularly. That keeps the pain away.

  18. I would love to go to the Gwinganna Retreat, it sounds amazing! I have MS and get extreme fatigue, a visit to the retreat would do me wonders… It’s a vicious cycle for me as when I’m tired I don’t eat right and exercise enough but I need to be healthy to be the best me for my kids!! It’s funny how you make sure your kids are healthy and active but tend to neglect yourself, common mummy issue!!

  19. I’m trying to move away from processed foods wherever possible, and to eat food that is locally sourced where I can. Better health and a lower carbon footprint – hard not to feel good about that 🙂

  20. Me, well I’m 58 years (young) and this year I was made redundant. I’m needing a good kick to get off my bum and start a serious health and exercise routine! Having said that, I have started walking 4 kms each morning and afternoon, but the healthy eating is something I’m still struggling with. Help!

  21. Hi Nikki, It sounds like a little piece of heaven! I am working very hard to kick a sugar addiction at the moment with varying sucess – this is the one thing I would and will change about my health.

  22. I would like to kick start my exercise program again,as you know Nikki “normal ” exercise is hard for me ,but I can do Tai chi and Chi Gong not properly but it doesn’t matter.I felt so much better when I was doing it.
    This looks like the best ever getaway and I am glad that you came home Re energised,it looks beautiful there Nikki!

  23. I am currently juggling 2 roles for the company I work for and am Mum to 3 kids and wife to a busy husband. Running the house and all of the above I have stopped looking after me in the way I know I should. My BP and my weight is really elevated and I know I need to stop and make some changes soon. Gwingana is on my vision board and bucket list but I just have not made it there yet.

  24. I really need to get to bed earlier and at the same time so that I can have the energy to focus on my health more and feel refreshed and focused each day!

  25. Sleep deprivation is my big health issue. As a night person I stay up late getting work done, reading, etc. then I get up to my 2&4 year old children during night mostly because their scratchy eczema skin wakes them. Then my 2 yr old is up before the sun demanding breakfast and in need of a nappy change. This leaves me tired for remainder if day 🙁

    Stayed at gwinganna 5 years ago. Dream of visiting again one day but cooking recipes from their cookbook will take me there in spirit 🙂

  26. ditto to most of the other comments but I would like to turn my brain off at night to get a good nights sleep – because without good sleep I find nothing else matters really

  27. I’d love time out from the day to day madness. A week of healthy eating, pampering and best of all – a spiritual retreat for my mind! Sounds like heaven!

  28. Oh Nikki, i love Gwinganna & go every year. I can’t recommend it enough, and your tip about putting your treatment request in on booking is spot on!
    If you are flying in, you normally arrive there at 230 – make sure you book in for an afternoon massage!
    I highly recommend the colonic irrigation (yes, really!), and if you can get an appt with either of the amazing nutritionists, it is soooo worth it.

  29. I desperately need to cut sugar out of my life – I am so addicted to it & I’m sure that just by achieving this one thing, I would reduce my weight & look & feel so much healthier

  30. Gwingana is in my sight, I am so there! I really want to quit sugar, I’ve done IQS, reduced it. But I just struggle with my morning cup of strong black tea, a sprinkle of sugar still makes its way. I will concour this soon!

  31. Gwinganna is my dream health break and as an event organiser coming up for the biggest event of the year a weekend away here would be amazing.

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