See & do
The hills are alive with the sound of healing
Tim Baker | May 20, 2019
The Gold Coast hinterland is home to two of the world’s leading health retreats at the forefront of the global wellness movement.
For many, a Gold Coast holiday is all about the high energy thrills of perfect waves or dizzying theme park rides, bustling night clubs or high-end shopping and dining.
But there is another side to Gold Coast tourism which is on the rise and challenges many people’s pre-conceived notions of our coastal paradise.
The Gold Coast hinterland is a hotbed of healing, boasting Australia’s first health retreats, Eden, and its most highly awarded, Gwinganna. Health retreats are a booming business here and around the world and the global wellness industry is estimated to be worth $4.2 trillion annually.
Both Eden and Gwinganna combine stunning natural settings, nestled in the neighbouring valleys of Currumbin and Tallebudgera, with a healthy and largely organic diet, a range of outdoor and fitness activities and a comprehensive menu of spa treatments.
Their clientele comprises everyone from sleep-deprived new parents, to stressed out business executives, movers and shakers of the entertainment industry and those tackling chronic health issues.
But in other ways the Gold Coast’s premier health retreats have quite distinct characters that between them cater to all tastes and needs.
Australia’s first health retreat was founded in 1984 as Camp Eden, and pioneered many elements of the wellness programs that are now so popular around the world. Recently re-branded as Eden, they have added the services of PE Nation founders Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning to their program, with an emphasis on nurturing physical fitness.
But guests are able to customise their own experience and be as active or leisurely as they choose. There are cooking demonstrations with Leah Itsines, inspiring talks with psychologist Ali Hill, and pilates with Kirsten King. Or you can opt for something less strenuous and laze by the pool, catch up on your reading, book into the spa and soak in the stunning hinterland rainforest setting.
Gwinganna’s focus is on holistic health, mind, body and spirit, and education sessions that allow guests to go home fully armed with the tools to comprehensively overhaul their lifestyles.
Physical activities are divided into yin – gentle, nurturing sessions like yoga, qi gong, stretch classes and creative dance – and yang, which are more challenging walks and hikes, boxing, fitball, indoor cycling and physical training.
Afternoons are given over to “dream time” to book treatments at Gwinganna’s luxurious spa or simply relax with a bath and a good book. Highlights of the program include local character Johnny Palmer’s rainforest walks, organic gardener Shelley Prior’s garden tours and Steve McInnes’s transformative tribal dance sessions.
Gwinganna has picked up an array of awards including Asia Spa Awards Eco-Spa of the year 2015-2017, World Luxury Spa Awards Eco-Spa winner for Australia and Oceania 2018, Trip Advisor Hall of Fame, Queensland Tourism Awards for health and well-being tourism 2012-2014, and Gold Coast Business Awards winner in Tourism and Hospitality Events, 2012 – 2014.
Both Gwinganna and Eden run week-long programs priced at around $4000, depending on your accommodation option, and Gwinganna run shorter three-day programs throughout the year. They are both located only a short drive from Coolangatta airport with transfers provided for guests. It’s difficult to imagine a nicer way to bed down some virtuous New Year’s resolutions or recover from the party season excesses.