Reset at Australia’s 10 Best Wellness Retreats

Gaia Wellness Retreat

Downtime is decidedly upscale at these top health retreats.

Best for body detox: Kangaroo Island Health Retreat

Sue McCarthy’s program has been honed over some 40 years and she’s an intrinsic part of its continued success. Her practical, no-nonsense manner means there’s no freewheeling – but she’s encouraging and warm. Days start with a series of cleansing rituals followed by yoga, body brushing and sweating in the infrared sauna. There’s also walking – lots of it. You’ll trek up to 20 kilometres a day on the stunning coastal trails and beaches of Kangaroo Island. Meals are minimal but nourishing. Don’t expect any luxuries or glamorous distractions but be prepared for serious results – weight loss, of course, but also a deeper sense of wellbeing. This retreat is designed to thoroughly detox body and mind, schooling you in mindful eating, sensible exercise and steady thought patterns.  – Jo McKay
Emu Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia,

Best for meditation: Samadhi Health and Wellness Retreat & Spa

Samadhi

Serene gardens designed for contemplation, artfully healthy meals delivered to the upmarket suites and a smorgasbord of bespoke treatments targeting body and mind means Samadhi has Zen on speed dial. An Eastmeets-West sanctuary on the outskirts of pretty Glenlyon, this multi-award-winning, ultra-boutique retreat is all about helping you find the antidote to the stresses of city living. Mindfulness is at the core of one-on-one sessions covering life shaping, meditation, qi gong and yoga, while the spa is all about pure indulgence. Sign up for a retreat package or design your own with the expertise of hosts Wayne and Annah Mirananda – either way, this unique retreat delivers results designed to echo in real life. – Larissa Dubecki
Glenlyon, Victoria

Best for weight loss: Golden Door Elysia Health Retreat & Spa

Earn and use Qantas Points with Golden Door

Earn and use Qantas Points with Golden Door

Located as it is amid green hills dotted with vineyards and cellar doors in NSW’s Hunter Valley, the Golden Door Elysia Health Retreat & Spa seems at odds with the notion of a health overhaul. But from the moment you arrive at this picturesque resort, temptation seems far away. Regardless of which program you choose, a typical day might include group yoga, meditation, deep-water running, a stretching class, personal training and health and wellness seminars led by experts who arm you with the knowledge to make longlasting positive changes to your lifestyle. It’s not all hard work, though – the onsite Spa Elysia is one of the largest in the country, with 26 wet and dry rooms and an exhaustive treatment menu. Step out of your comfort zone with the signature Watsu treatment, where a therapist guides you through the water in a private pool, stretching your body out in ways that are impossible on dry land. – Vanessa Lawrence
Pokolbin, NSW

Best for digital detox: Eden Health Retreat

Eden Health Retreat

The loss of phone service as you wend along Currumbin Creek Road towards the gates to Eden Health Retreat is a good indication of what lies ahead. There are no TVs, computers, wi-fi or mobile reception at this lush Hamptons-country-clubstyle estate. Stress and cravings are soothed by the blanket of green outside your room and a daily timetable of activities (revealed only the night before) and spa treatments. For some, morning qi gong then a day spent reading by the saltwater pool will suffice. Others will opt in to everything from boxing to life-skills training after slathering themselves in therapeutic New Zealand mud. Meals are gluten-free and satisfying if a little on the light side. – Celeste Mitchell
Currumbin Valley, Queensland

Best for emotional wellbeing: Living Valley Health Retreat

Living Valley Health Retreat

The first thing you realise on checking in at this 29-yearold retreat is that your health – physical and mental – is the top priority. It’s also why some are back for their 10th, 15th, even 20th stay. After a consultation with a naturopath to set your personal road map, you have permission to put yourself first. While guidelines frame everything (for instance, you’ll be advised when to drink water before and after meals) and twice-daily steam baths are prescribed to sweat out toxins, it’s your choice whether you subsist on juice and broth for a three-day cleanse or opt to enjoy the onsite walking trails, pool and massages. The focus is on education with cooking demonstrations and nightly lectures ranging from nutrition to alkalising. The food is a highlight – makrut-lime panna cotta with grass-fed gelatin is just one of the options. – Celeste Mitchell
Noosa hinterland, Queensland

Best for stress management: Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

Gwinganna

In 2005, the team at Gwinganna (many of whom are still there) created a highly successful formula: encourage guests to exercise in the morning, whether that’s a guided bushwalk on one of the property’s 16 tracks, a boxing class, Pilates or deepwater running then give them the afternoon off to “restore”. That could mean having a nap in your suite, swimming in one of two infinity pools or visiting the largest spa in the Southern Hemisphere, which offers a dizzying array of stress-relief treatments. By all means, do all three – and be sure to work up an appetite for the organic, locally produced food, which leaves traditional spa cuisine for dead. You’ll leave feeling more balanced and, thanks to the inspiring information sessions, ready to make major lifestyle changes. – Kirsten Galliott
Tallebudgera Valley, Queensland

Best for mineral springs: Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa

Hepburn Bathhouse

The wellness seekers of 1895 flocked to Hepburn Bathhouse when it first opened and the mineral-rich waters of central Victoria continue to exert a magnetic pull. The retreat now boasts the accoutrements of the modern age with a raft of spa treatment options (rose quartz facial, anyone?) but the two-hour Sanctuary bathing experience remains the core proposition. Laze your way through the warm waters, from the soothing saltwater pool to the invigorating jets of the spa lounge pool, before a visit to the steamy Turkishstyle hammam. Staying for the night? The 10 villas are each equipped with a giant marble bathtub and mineral bathing salts to continue the aquatic vibes, along with a gas log fire and sumptuous faux fur throws. – Larissa Dubecki
Hepburn Springs, Victoria

Best for yoga: Billabong Retreat

Billabong Retreat

It’s hard to imagine a more ideal setting than the yoga studio at Billabong Retreat for winding down and connecting with nature. This spacious bamboo-floored building has a soaring vaulted ceiling and one entire side is sliding glass doors showcasing a glorious bush panorama. Relaxation is guaranteed as you cycle through your asanas or learn the calming techniques of pranayama breathing to a soundtrack of wind in the trees and the melodic trill of an estimated 40 species of native birds. Prime your body for the next session with a visit to the onsite spa or by relaxing in the soothing magnesium pool. – Sandra Bridekirk
Maraylya, NSW

Best for massages: Gaia Retreat & Spa

Gaia

Spread over 10 lush hectares in the subtropical Byron Bay hinterland, Gaia Retreat & Spa attracts international celebrities while remaining unpretentious and chilled. “Barefoot meets Armani”, in the words of its founder, Olivia Newton-John. You can do your morning yoga on scenic Samira Lookout, take clay-modelling workshops, train at the gym, do organic food cooking classes with the resort’s award-winning chefs or simply bliss-out at the day spa with its fabulous array of pampering and massage treatments. Try the divine Royal Kahuna, a Hawaiian healing ritual involving breath work and a rhythmic deeptissue massage. Or go for the recently added Crystal Journey – it is Byron Bay, after all. – Linda Javin
Brooklet, NSW

Best for couples: Injidup Spa Retreat

Set against the sparkling Indian Ocean in the middle of Margaret River wine country, a stay in one of the beachfront villas at Injidup Spa Retreat is all about enjoying the great outdoors in luxury. Each of the 10 adults-only villas comes with a private plunge pool and is mere steps from the secluded Injidup Beach, which means watching the sunset, drink in hand, each evening. The on-site day spa, offers an extensive repertoire of massages and treatments, including a 90-minute Spa Journey for couples featuring a hydrotherapy spa, relaxation massage and champagne, fruit and chocolates.
Yallingup, WA

SEE ALSO: Why Cruising is the New Health Retreat

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