15 of the Best Wellness Escapes in NSW
When it comes to rest and relaxation, nothing quite beats indulging in a luxurious spa treatment. And the best wellness retreats in New South Wales offer everything from day-spa pick-me-ups to longer stress-free sojourns. If you’re dreaming of being pampered or searching for an experience to spoil a special someone with, these dreamy self-care destinations tick all the peace-inducing boxes with tranquil locations, holistic treatments and calming views that will reset the mind, body and spirit.
Soma, Byron Bay1/16
At Soma Byron Bay, a luxurious retreat in the Byron Bay hinterland, formerly burnt-out entrepreneur Peter Ostick and master meditation teacher Gary Gorrow guide guests towards a fresh plan for living. Bliss comes inside an other-worldly dome where meditation, yoga and breathwork take place. Meals are all Ayurvedic and plant-based; participants can stay in luxe onsite suites or other digs nearby.
Billabong Retreat, Hawkesbury2/16
It’s just an hour by car from Sydney’s CBD, but Billabong Retreat in the Hawkesbury region northwest of the city feels like a true bush escape. Yoga teachers, adept at coaching beginners and catering to all skill levels, lead classes in an airy, bamboo-floored bower constructed from telegraph poles and second-hand doors. The food is also exceptional – colourful, vegetarian and delicious – and a return visit just for the bliss balls is totally understandable.
Nulla Nulla Blacksmith’s Farm Cabin, Bellbrook3/16
An hour-and-a-half by car from Port Macquarie in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range is Nulla Nulla Blacksmith’s, an organic farm where you’ll find a perfect, tiny wooden cabin, flanked by a creek and surrounded by thick forest. With no wi-fi or phone reception, you can focus on guided meditation and breathwork organised via your host, enjoy Ayurvedic meals sourced from the market garden, or simply lounge on the timber deck as evening falls and birdsong is replaced by crickets.
You’ll really mean that “namaste” after an early-morning yoga session in a dome amid the forest or on a deck by the water. Plan your wellness weekend to Sydney at qantas.com
The Greenhouse Retreats, Central Coast4/16
Bespoke luxury underpins everything at The Greenhouse Retreats (think: customised Spotify playlists and cocktail kits), a collection of private holiday rentals on the Central Coast. Six residences ranging from cute cottages to airy six-bedroom pavilions create the perfect backdrop to recharge your way – whether that includes meals provided by local caterers, onsite massage or yoga classes, or even a personal trainer to guide you through a sweat session.
Image credit: Anna Kucera
Sofitel Spa, Sydney5/16
Short on time for an overnight getaway but in need of some self-care? New in 2023, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour’s Sofitel Spa devises personalised half-day wellness journeys that merge exercise with pampering. Think, sunrise yoga by the infinity pool or a heart-pumping Peloton session, then a luxurious Biologique Recherche facial or infrared sauna – all served up with a menu of healthy, balanced dishes to help keep you going.
Elysia Wellness Retreat, Hunter Valley6/16
“Change your life” is the philosophy at Elysia Wellness Retreat and by the end of your retreat (from two to seven nights), you’ll emerge determined to do just that. No one will stop you spending your days in a cabana beside the pool or indulging in back-to-back Babor facials. But once you’ve awoken at 6am for tai chi, followed by a brisk march around the property and a how-can-this-be-good-for-me clean-eating breakfast, it suddenly makes sense to keep up the good work.
Wellness can be as simple as switching off your phone for a day or as involved as a luxurious week-long bush retreat. Do it your way – book a seat to Sydney now at qantas.com
Spicers Sangoma Retreat, Blue Mountains7/16
At Spicers Sangoma Retreat in the Blue Mountains National Park, wellness goes wild with guided canyoning, rock-climbing and hiking adventures in the World Heritage wilderness. Afterwards, walking, meditation and cocktail classes take the edge off the adrenalin and luxe touches such as custom Spicers’ king-size beds and two-person Philippe Starck bathtubs make tearing yourself away at check-out the biggest mission of all.
Bannisters by the Sea, Mollymook8/16
Bannisters by the Sea, located a three-and-a-quarter-hour drive south from Sydney, is a whitewashed monument to Zen. The feeling of relaxation reaches its pinnacle in the spa, which has four treatment rooms, plus a semi-alfresco cabana for couples’ massages (this place is popular with the babymoon crowd), a hammam steam room and rain shower. There’s no lasers or light-therapy gadgets, just a team of therapists as gentle as the Éminence Organic Skin Care products they use and nature’s soundtrack of crashing waves.
Osborn House, Bundanoon9/16
Two hours in the car from Sydney into the Southern Highlands and up a pine-lined drive you’ll find the elegant Osborn House, a meticulously restored 19th-century heritage-listed home turned boutique hotel. The onsite spa with four treatment rooms offers facials, massages or a choose-your-own adventure session of pampering, but for something special try the Akwaterra massage – devised in the South of France and new to Australia, it utilises heated ceramic tools to leave you bliss-soaked.
Just an hour-and-a-half drive from Sydney, the Southern Highlands is full of gorgeous stays, excellent restaurants and picturesque villages. Book a flight to Sydney at qantas.com
Image credit: Declan Blackall Photography
Blue Mountains Sauna, Leura10/16
Deep in the mountains at Leura, within an adventure hub called Lostlane, the new Finnish-style Blue Mountains Sauna offers an authentic dry sauna/cold plunge experience with a twist. No whale-song muzak – here you’ll steam to a playlist of electronica and indie rock. “It’s all about connecting and taking away that seriousness or heavy tone of wellness and spa culture,” says co-director Nikita Miltiadou.
Image credit: Bells at Killcare
Bells at Killcare, Killcare Heights11/16
The 25 Hamptons-style rooms and cottages and refined restaurant are reasons enough to visit Bells at Killcare on the Central Coast an hour-and-a-half from Sydney, but the day spa is its biggest drawcard. All massages and treatments are inspired by Indigenous traditions and their ‘ritual’ treatments start with the burning of wild-harvested native flora, enveloping you in the fragrant smoke of gum leaves and paperbark. Follow up with the Bouddi Signature Massage, which combines gliding continuous movements and native aromatic oils to relieve muscle tension and stress.
The Anchorage, Port Stephens12/16
The Anchorage, an hour’s drive north of Newcastle, is renowned for its decadent Spa Lucca. Try the 90-minute Immersion Oud experience, a luxurious all-body, Arabian oud essence treatment which includes a back massage, pressure point facial massage, facial mask, and foot therapy. Pre and post treatment, relax in the light-filled wellness lounge with a stack of glossy magazines and indulgent vegan chocolates.
Wellness doesn’t have to be work. Make a whole day of pampering part of your health-kick on a coastal escape. Plan your visit – including a spa day – to Sydney at qantas.com
Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach13/16
Hamptons-meets-Wes-Anderson decor, views of the Pacific and the chef Jason Barrett-led restaurant, Paper Daisy, all make Halcyon House a coastal dream. Its spa, however – light-filled, luxurious and boasting a mammoth five-hour Day of Youth treatment that includes a massage of your choice, two-course lunch at Paper Daisy and steam-room access – will leave you restored from head-to-toe.
Image credit: Tom Antcliff Photography
Arajilla, Lord Howe Island14/16
Nestled on Lord Howe, a two-hour flight from Sydney, Arajilla is a dreamy, palm-fringed idyll. In a yurt beneath the canopy of a majestic banyan tree forest, its Ayurvedic spa offers massage, treatments and organic Ayurda products, so thoughtfully sourced that they have been blessed twice – once during harvesting in the Himalayas, and once before shipping.
Gaia Retreat, Byron Hinterland15/16
Set amid rolling hills patchworked with macadamia orchards and rainforest, Gaia Retreat in Byron’s hinterland is remarkable for its location alone. It does the setting justice, but it’s the hyperlocal organic cuisine, wellness timetable ranging from HIIT classes to meditation and the spa menu (the 240-minute Gaia Goddess will change your life) that keeps Gaia at the top of Australia’s wellness bucket list.
If you haven’t experienced Gaia yet, add it to your 2023 must-do list. Start planning your flight to Sydney at qantas.com
Image credit: Destination NSW