What is wellness? We generally associate ‘wellness’ with activities like yoga and meditation, and whilst may be true, wellness speaks more generally to practice of a holistic and considered way of living. It first and foremost requires a healthy dialogue with one’s inner self, which is at the foundation of all of our behaviours both mental and physical. Although wellness isn’t necessarily something that can be ‘achieved’ per se, in one pinnacle moment. Rather, it is an unfolding series of patterns of behaviour that bring an awareness of the present, and is ultimately underpinned by an attitude of gratefulness and acceptance. These qualities are particularly essential in stressful or overwhelming seasons, as well as in everyday walks of life. There are plenty of these facilities popping up across the country because of the synergies between relaxation and wellness practices. Perfect for a wholesome getaway, a weekend at a wellness retreat could be just the dose of romance and rejuvenation the doctor ordered.
1. Empire Retreat and Spa, WA
Located in the popular Yallingup region, Empire Retreat and Spa is a boutique hotel that implores you to soak in the beauty of nature from the comfort of your loft or luxury villa. If you’re not preoccupied exploring the local vineyard or basking in the sun, you must pay a visit to the Empire Spa and indulge in a rejuvenating body therapy session. If massages and facial treatments aren’t you’re cup of tea, treat yourself to a soak in the stone bath or enjoy the Bali-inspired rainforest shower. Either option is a great way to experience the surrounding environment from a place of tranquil relaxation.
2. Billabong Retreat, NSW
With a core focus of yoga, meditation and wellness in general, Billabong Retreat is an immersive eco-village nestled amongst the trees. Not only are you completely transformed by the surrounding natural environment, but your diet, habits and behaviours also experience a necessary cleanse. Prepare to enjoy a myriad of organic whole foods – the cuisine here gets rave reviews. Billabong Retreat is about having a holistic holiday; to learn mindful practices, like stress management and self care, that you can integrate into your everyday lives.
3. Peninsula Hot Springs, VIC
Stepping into a hot spring or mineral bath is an otherworldly experience. It satisfies this primal sense to connect with nature, vulnerable yet in the company of others. The communal aspect of an outdoor hot spring creates a mutual experience of peace and serenity, making it a great environment for romantic travellers. The Peninsula Hot Springs, located just 90 mins from the heart of Melbourne, also offers indulgent packages suited to couples and those wanting to enjoy the mineral baths in a more private setting. While you’re there, treat yourself to a botanical treatment, body scrub or facial.
4. Kangaroo Island Health Retreat, SA
The lead up to any wedding triggers an immediate self-evaluation of overall health and wellbeing. Couples will often use their engagement season as an opportunity to really hit the gym or get started on a healthy eating plan in an attempt to look and feel the best version of themselves. Kangaroo Island Health Retreat is a great place to actualise these goals and turn healthy intentions into sustainable practices. Overlooking Emu Bay, the retreat offers a specialised couple’s package for a full five days on the island. With a keen emphasis on detoxification, the program includes a 4-day cleanse and the adoption of healthy eating methods, including locally produced whole foods that you will learn to optimise through cooking classes and seminars at the retreat.There is a genuine emphasis on longevity and healthy habit adoption at the facility, and the team follows up on your progress even after the program has ended.
5. Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, QLD
Capturing the beauty of the surrounding Gold Coast Hinterland, Gwinganna invites you to truly switch off and experience of world of calm. Gwinganna has its own hidden place in the world, despite it being one of the most popular wellness retreat centres in the country. A great opportunity to kicks those troublesome habits once and for all, Gwinganna offers an intimate and inclusive environment where you feel comfortable making these healthy lifestyle changes. The two-night package is ideal for a weekend away and is just enough time to avail yourselves of this off-line experience. Serving purely organic meals – strictly caffeine, alcohol and dairy free – this retreat centre is place of restorative serenity, helping you to better get in touch with yourself and one another.
6. Shizuka Ryokan, Hepburn Springs, VIC
For your next romantic weekend away, experience the unique simplicity of a traditional Japanese retreat, without needing to leave the country, by dropping in to Shizuka Ryokan. Primely positioned in Victoria’s Hepburn Springs, this wellness sanctuary is sophisticated and up-scale yet quintessentially minimal, in alignment with Japanese custom and decor. Enjoy a massage, facial or reflexology treatment to target the areas of stress or tension in your body, then replenish the soul with incredible an banquet dinner and locally-produced wine. Sliding doors, slippers and robes; relaxation at its finest.
7. Gaia Retreat Centre, QLD
A boutique retreat centre perched on the Shire of the Byron Bay hinterlands, Gaia is a beloved destination for couples looking to escape and unwind on their weekend away. Besides the pampering spa sessions that restore and rejuvenate, there are also a range of communal facilities, like the Kukura House and the Samira Lookout, where you can get to know a few of the other visitors or simply pick up a book and enjoy the surroundings. Or check in one of the on-site Naturopaths who will help you address any dietary issues or other physical concerns.
8. Barnbougle Spa, Tasmania
A room with a spectacular view, the spa at Barnbougle has an airy atmosphere designed to awaken the senses and calm the mind. You can book in to the wellness consultation room to receive guidance on which spa treatment is right for you. If you’re not soaking mineral salt spa or resetting in the steam room, then you’re likely relaxing and taking in the beauty of the vast surrounds. Try something a little different on your weekend away and boost your antioxidants with a session in the vinotherapy infused bath. Or experience the ‘vino’ in another way, by visiting the Lost Farm and sipping on some locally-produced wine.