“Since opening in 2005, Gaia Retreat & Spa has won more than enough accolades to establish itself as Austalia’s leading & most renowned boutique lifestyle retreat.”
The Gaia Retreat & Spa journey begins with an easy 30 minute drive north from Ballina airport or a half-hour drive south from the world renowned Byron Bay. The retreat (click here) is nestled just a stone’s throw off one of the endless winding roads of the breathtaking Bundjalung Country hinterland, on quite possibly the most gorgeous 25 country acres in Australia.
We flew in early to Ballina at around 8:30 in the morning after waiting for the bags and hiring a car (a must if you intend to get around). As we were checking in at 2 we decided to drive past the retreat and go on straight to some quick sight-seeing so we began the very lovely trip up the highway towards Byron Bay.
After attempting to capture some Instagram worthy photos we decided to try our luck for an early check-in. So back we went to Gaia but this time we decided to go the scenic route; a lovely drive through sprawling hills, luscious greenery and historic towns.
It is hard to describe the feeling that you get from the moment entering this absolutely beautiful property, it’s not something you can really pin point, there is this serene energy that sweeps over the entire 25 acres. As the car pulls up and you step out and see the magnificent view of rolling hills, the farms, the uninterrupted blue sky and the greener than green lawns from the retreats’ clearing, you really have a bit of a pinch me moment. (The photos do not do it justice to how beautiful this place really is)
Getting to the reception you need to walk down a brick path through overhanging tropical trees and ferns of all varieties to an oversized wooden door with different ornaments to either side.
The reception is lofty with lots of different orange and gold hues and many, many different seating options that continue out onto an outdoor verandah. The entire setting has a very balinese feel to it. (note the reception is now undergoing a major revamp thanks to hail damage it attained in late 2017 and will be closed from Monday 12th March for a month or so).
After a brief check-in we went and grabbed our bags back from the car and wheeled them down to our room. For us this was quite easy, but for an elderly person or someone who’s packed a lot, this might be a little difficult. I’m sure though if you asked one of the staff they would gladly help.
We stayed in the new Komala Villas. It was a spacious split-level one bedroom suite. The upper level consisted of a very generous bathroom with double shower and double vanity on the left, a central king size bed and a seperate gorgeous free standing bath on the right.
The bottom level was made up of a lounge area and kitchenette inside, while the outdoor living area had a large deck, day bed & saltwater plunge pool that faced the north-east of the property (perfect for early morning dips).
Food & Beverage
Well where do I start. If I had to describe the food that was presented to us in just three words, Divine would be the first thing that springs to mind, Delicious would be the second and Nutritious would come in equally second.
In every dish there is a huge emphasis on fresh, seasonal & local produce. The meals I had were literally garden to plate type of meals ( I’m happy to say I actually picked the radishes that were used on one of the nights from the veggie garden). Every meal we ate were balanced, light, colourful and beautifully presented and so so fresh.
A bit of a quirky point of difference that the Gaia Spa & Retreat offers is that there is no set menu or menu at all for that matter. Each meal is inspired by the seasonal produce and tailored around everyones specific dietary requirements that is gathered at check in. The team lead by Chef Dan accomodate and tailor each meal around every type of diet you could think of; Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Pescatarian, FODMAP are all catered for.
We ate breakfast and dinner here both days and could not fault anything that came before us. Check out the visual deliciousness to see what we ate.
Every week Chef Dan also holds a cooking class which I highly recommend. It’s a great way to learn, watch and discover new flavours to eat.
Pool & Gym
Our room (Komala Villa) had it’s own plunge pool so we didn’t venture down to the main one which is located at the Day Spa.
The retreat also has a million different activities to do (tennis, meditation, yoga, gym, boxing, tai chi to name a few) but once again we ran out of time to participate. Everything is optional, so how much or how little you do is up to you, it’s your retreat, your experience.
In addition to winning the worlds leading retreat in 2016 & 2017, Gaia has also won the worlds best day spa three years running, so coming here you would expect a world class treatment and to put it very simply that’s what I got.
Talking purely about the treatment both myself and my partner received (his was a deep tissue massage & mine was the Gaia Deluxe) they were one of the best, if not the best massages we ever had.
Yet another reason to fall in love with Gaia Retreat is their organic skincare range Retreatment. Full of incredibly powerful ingredients and essential oils to help nourish and rehydrate your skin. It’s just another little something that adds that little extra class to Gaia Spa.
- Some of the friendliest staff I have come across in my travels
- Food was amazing
- The massage I had was amazing
- Breathtaking view
- Very relaxing
- If I was really picky… actually nope I don’t have one
The incredible energy that radiates from the grounds of Gaia Retreat & Spa transcends you to a place of pure bliss. From the friendly, hospitable staff to the nourishing food and the exquisite views, your stay will be unforgettable.