The Travel Facter: Gaia Retreat and Spa, a Healing Resort


Olivia Newton-John at her Gaia Retreat and Spa in Australia.

Need something for your bucket list? Look no more.

Located on the highest point of Australia’s Brisbane Bay, the tranquil Gaia Retreat and Spa is set on 30 acres with a kaleidoscopic backdrop and breathtaking views from the Pacific Ocean to the Nightcap Ranges.

Gaia, meaning spirit of Mother Earth, sits in the subtropical area near Byron Bay and is the ideal place to soothe the soul. It’s a long way from LA, but well-worth the frequent flyer miles.

The complex opened in 2005 after Olivia Newton-John and a best friend, designer Gregg Cave, scoured the hills for a country escape for Gregg. (She was also on her way to bury her recently-deceased mother’s ashes.) Two mates, Warwick Evans and Ruth Kalnin, joined them as business partners. Gregg designed the ha-ven and is also general manager.

But, when the duo found the resort, it was rundown. Fortu-nately, they had the vision to transform it into a modern oasis.

“It’s barefoot meets Armani,” Olivia jokes. Accommodations are contemporary and inspire a feeling of beauty, calmness, and balance.

The award-winning hotel provides 20 villa bungalows. Olivia dedicated the property to her Mum, and she wanted to incorporate her favorite flower, tropical rhododendron throughout the property with gardenia and lemon scented myrtle growth.

Gaia’s wellness approach to spa cuisine is run by executive chef, Todd Cameron, who chooses the freshest produce from his own organic garden and the variety of local suppliers. Meals are enjoyed at The Kuhura House, with cathedral-like ceilings and natural wood features.

When you step into Amala Day Spa (means “pure” in Sanscript), you immediately hear tranquil sounds that lull you into a deep state of relaxation. It is designed with Asian, contemporary, and Rocolo influences and has an outdoor Aboriginal garden room for two. It’s the only place in the world where you can get a 90 minute Esoteric Breast massage, incorporating breast health.

Various classes in yoga, t’ai chi, and even a “Let’s Get Physi-cal” class — named after one of her hits — are available.

The resort is eco-friendly and aligned with a Rainforest Rescue Regeneration Scheme; Gaia implements plantings of 2,000 trees per year. Guests are invited to plant a tree to leave a positive environmental footprint.

Quickest way to get there? Fly from LAX to Sydney, catch an hour flight to Brisbane Bay, and be scooped up by Gaia’s personal transport, with a 20 minute scenic drive.

Next year, the long-awaited Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre opens in Melbourne, Olivia’s hometown. It plans comprehensive services for cancer treatment, education, training, and research, along with touches for the mind, body, and spirit. The songbird/actress/activist/composer has been fearlessly developing the project since her cancer recovery.

Already available: The LivAid, a breast a self-exam kit.

In 2008, Olivia led a team of fellow survivors and celebrities on a trek along the Great Wall of China. They raised over two mil-lion bucks for cancer research.

With recipes from Gaia, her new book, LivWise: Easy Recipes for a Happy, Healthy Life (Mur-doch Books), is a best-seller in Australia and publishes in the U.S. and Great Britain in April.

Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in the luxury lifestyle brand. Her works has been seen in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Greer’s OC, on broadcasts, and the Web.

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Sue Facter writes about all things A-list for publications world-wide. Follow her on Twitter @TheFacter.

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