Modern life can be relentless but if there’s ever been a time to slow down and unwind, this is it. Fortunately, looking after yourself doesn’t mean skimping on luxury at these eco-friendly retreats and day spas designed to help you relax, refresh and rejuvenate. We've found the best luxe wellness retreats in Australia.
Greet the rising sun with morning yoga and tai chi in the Hunter Valley, immerse yourself in the Gold Coast hinterland rainforest or watch the sun go down over the Indian Ocean near breezy Margaret River. Whatever your ultimate goal, a stay at one of these wellness retreats is an investment in yourself that will pay dividends for years to come.
Best for couples: Injidup Spa Retreat
Surrounded by Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and set beside the sparkling Indian Ocean on the edge of Margaret River wine country, the beachfront villas at Injidup Spa Retreat are all about experiencing the great outdoors in high-end comfort. Each of the 10 adults-only villas comes with a private plunge pool and is mere steps from secluded Injidup Beach, which means watching the sunset each evening is a breeze. The on-site day spa offers an extensive range of massages and treatments, including a 90 minute Restore & Balance Journey for couples featuring a glass of sparkling, fresh fruits, luxurious bath and 60 minute massage.
Yallingup, Western Australia
Best for stress management: Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
In 2006, the team at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland (many of whom are still there) created a highly successful formula: encourage guests to exercise after starting the day with qi gong – whether that’s a guided bushwalk on one of the eco-friendly property’s 16 tracks, a boxing class, Pilates session or deep-water 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 treatments. By all means, do all three and be sure to work up an appetite for the locally sourced organic food that 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.
Tallebudgera Valley, Queensland
Best for tai chi: Elysia Wellness Retreat
Formerly known as Golden Door, this retreat in the Hunter Valley is Australia’s largest and that’s reflected in its wide-ranging daily schedules. Clear your mind and join the grazing kangaroos for morning tai chi as the sun’s rays hit the property’s highest point before diving into a program of empowering seminars and up to 21 activities, be it meditation or water polo. Or simply relax and be pampered in the day spa. All meals are prepared without red meat, sugar, salt or saturated fat and the retreat is also alcohol- and caffeine-free so it’s easy to enjoy a restorative night’s sleep no matter how much wellness you cram into each day.
Best for massages: Gaia Retreat & Spa
Spread over eight 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 co-founder, Olivia Newton-John. The holistic healing approach means you can do your morning yoga on scenic Samira Lookout, train at the gym, take organic food cooking classes with the resort’s award-winning chefs or simply bliss-out at the day spa with its array of pampering and massage treatments. Try the divine Royal Kahuna, a Hawaiian healing ritual involving breath work and a rhythmic deep-tissue massage. Or take it up a notch in a high-energy dance fitness class soundtracked by legendary divas including ONJ herself.
Best for meditation: Samadhi Wellness Spa Health Retreat
Serene gardens designed for contemplation, healthy meals delivered to upmarket suites and a menu of bespoke treatments targeting body and mind means Samadhi has every aspect of Zen covered. An East-meets-West sanctuary with private accommodation designed according to feng shui principles, this multi-award-winning, ultra-boutique retreat is all about helping you find an antidote to the stresses of city life through holistic healing. Mindfulness is at the core of one-on-one sessions covering meditation, qi gong and yoga, while the spa is all about pure indulgence.
Best for digital detox: Eden Health Retreat
The loss of phone service as you follow Currumbin Creek Road towards the gates to Eden Health Retreat is a good indication of what lies ahead. There are no TVs, no computers and no mobile reception at this Hamptons-style estate next to Springbrook National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland. Stress and cravings are soothed by the swathe of green outside your room and a daily timetable of activities (revealed only the night before) and spa treatments. For some, morning yoga and a day spent reading by the pool will suffice. Others will give everything a go, from pottery and sound bowl healing to flying down a 200-metre zipline after slathering themselves in therapeutic mud. Meals are gluten-free and satisfying.
Currumbin Valley, Queensland
Best for emotional wellbeing: Living Valley Health Retreat
The first thing you realise on checking in at this 30-year-old retreat is that your health – physical and mental – is the top priority. It’s why some guests 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 seven-day cleanse or choose to enjoy the on-site walking trails, pool and massages. The food is a highlight and even the dedicated weight loss program has a focus on education, with cooking demonstrations and nightly lectures ranging from nutrition to alkalising.
Noosa hinterland, Queensland
Best for mineral springs: Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa
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 plenty of spa treatments but the 90-minute Sanctuary Mineral 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 Turkish-style hammam. Staying for the night? Each villa is equipped with a giant marble bathtub and mineral bathing salts to continue the aqua soothing, along with a gas log fire and sumptuous faux-fur throws to cosy up.
Hepburn Springs, Victoria
Best for yoga: Billabong Retreat
It’s hard to imagine a more ideal setting for winding down and connecting with nature than the yoga studio at eco-friendly Billabong Retreat. This spacious bamboo-floored pavilion has a vaulted ceiling and one entire side is sliding glass doors that reveal a glorious valley view and a billabong covered in lotus flowers. 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 on-site day spa or by relaxing in the soothing magnesium pool.
Best for silent contemplation: Dhamma Bhumi Vipassana Meditation Centre
Take your chance to chat to staff when you arrive at this Blue Mountains retreat; after that you’ll be in complete silence for one, two, three or 10 days. Using Vipassana meditation, guests aim to achieve self-transformation through self-observation, breath control and 10 hours of meditation daily. The facilities are spartan and the course is intense but those who stick with it are likely to be rewarded with a newfound sense of perspective and gratitude.
Best for a quick boost: Spicers Tamarind Retreat
Usually a stay at Spicers Tamarind – nestled in the Sunshine Coast hinterland – involves languid, multi-course meals in its hatted restaurant, treatments at the day spa and perhaps a stint behind the pans at the cooking school. Ingeniously, things are much the same during the property’s new two-night wellness getaways, with the addition of masterclasses on conscious consumption, meditation, fire ceremonies and Kundalini yoga. Facilitated by leadership expert Rachel O’Brien, the program centres on self-care with nothing – even caffeine, wine and dessert – off limits.
Best for the ultimate in luxury: Soma Byron Bay
You’ll tune into a sense of calm long before you join a yoga class at Soma – thanks partly to the retreat’s bucolic surroundings but mostly to the serene interiors. Stretch your limbs in the geodesic yoga dome, kick back by the heated freshwater pool with a book or unleash your inner yogi as you meditate under the fig tree that’s more than 200 years old. Soma grabbed the spotlight as the location for Nine Perfect Strangers, the small-screen adaptation of Liane Moriary’s bestselling novel, featuring Nicole Kidman in the lead role. You can book one of Soma’s upcoming retreats to live your Hollywood dream or round up a group of friends and take over the entire 10-bedroom hideaway via Airbnb.
Byron Bay, NSW