You know that scene in the movie Grease (of course you do) where Frankie Valli serenades Frenchy in the “beauty school dropout” dream sequence? He sings about the magical and grand “malt shop in the sky”? Well, now you might understand a little better what it’s like to visit Gaia Resort & Spa Byron Bay. To say the least, Gaia is my malt shop in the sky, and the lovely and skilled therapist Bridget, who pampered me, was my Frankie Valli.
Gaia, located more specifically in Brooklet, about twenty minutes out of the main town, is situated in the hinterlands of Byron Bay. The location is truly magical, and on first arrival, you can feel the stress dissipating as soon as you put your feet down on the stone driveway. As the magic of the place takes hold, you suddenly can’t remember yesterday, let alone, work/school/or if you even know how to drive a car. As you walk through the resort, you will see bungalows aligning the paths, and the main reception centre and restaurant, Kukura House. The landscape is breathtaking and there are many facilities tucked away in the natural surrounds.
As a visitor of the day spa, I wanted to experience what Gaia had to offer in terms of beauty and relaxation and the recommendation was the two and a half hour Bay Dream treatment package. The spa itself is unassuming and blends into the natural environment, just so, that you feel transported. Once you make it down to the spa centre, you will be warmly greeted by staff or spa manager Bridget, who will take care of you throughout your treatment.
The first port of call, in the Bay Dream package was a body polish and steam. You are taken, by your lovely therapist, to a steam room which is magical to say the least. The dim cave-like room feels as though you are lying within the earth itself, however you never feel claustrophobic. It’s airy, with high dark blue ceilings, replicating the sky, which light up with small white lights, imitating twinkling stars. The room fills with an aromatic blend of essential oils and steam, to relax, detoxify and open the pores in the skin. You lie there comfortably for just under ten minutes when your therapist comes in and massages a raw sugar, coconut and macadamia nut oil scrub all over your body and face. This massage feels phenomenal to the degree that if the treatment ended there it would be worth the money. Next you are left to steam for a while, letting the oils sink into the skin and draw out impurities. Once the time is up, you can rinse off under a warm or cool shower, hop back in your robe and then your therapist, who is always waiting dutifully outside the door, will take you down to your therapy room where your Kahuna massage experience awaits you.
Having never experienced a Kahuna massage before, I was slightly wary when my therapist told me to be prepared for a lot of arm and leg movement, however, once in the throws of the massage, my mind was so relaxed that I barely noticed my flailing arms. The Kahuna massage is an ancient Hawaiian therapeutic massage which is quite vigorous and rhythmic in nature. The therapist dances around the table whilst using fingers, hands and even arms to massage all over the body in a motion that ebbs and flows in a such a way that can only be described as waves in the ocean rolling over your body. At points it seemed like the therapist had 200 arms flowing in all directions at once whilst keeping my limbs cradled and supported at all times. You can’t help but marvel at the skill involved and not only that but what a work out! The Kahuna massage was delightful and extremely relaxing. The benefits of this type of massage are relaxation and healing and it’s great for lymphatic drainage. If you are looking for a deeper firmer massage, that’s going to get that knot out of your neck you had since you head-banged to Bohemian Rhapsody, you may be looking for the type of massage performed by small asian woman who uses your back as a doormat. But if you want a truly relaxing and caring experience, with a healing practitioner, then I highly recommend.
After my massage, I was covered in raw organic coconut butter and wrapped in a warm heavy blanket where my therapist proceeded to give me an oil scalp massage which almost made me cry with joy. Once left to relax in your cocoon, you are then welcome to get dressed in your own time and slip over (being very oily at this stage) to Kukura House for some light refreshment. Finally, Boyfriend was released from car prison, and came to join me on the Terana deck for a lunch of herbal tea, mint and quinoa salad, fig, walnut and goat cheese salad and crab and cucumber soup. All incredibly fresh and seasonal, the set meal keeps it light, detoxifying and delicious.
I should note that Gaia specialises in couples packages whether it be for newlyweds, you and your partner or mother and daughter. The Bay Dream package, I experienced is perfect for two, something which I was only made aware of after my treatment (sorry honey!!). This treatment is more than just a relaxation or beauty treatment, it’s an experience that affects body and mind. Not only did I relax so much I slipped into a short coma, but I left radiating like Gaia herself. What I loved about Gaia Resort & Spa, is that it stays true to the energy and spirit of the area, Byron Bay. It takes into consideration the local produce of the area and makes up all the product used in the treatments from pure raw materials moments before the treatment begins. The raw quality of the ingredients make all product far more potent, enhancing the health benefits to the client. For such a chic establishment, the essence of Byron Bay is not lost in the spirit of Gaia retreat. It is very much evident in the treatments and therapists who take care of you and also in an eco-consciousness that Gaia promotes and works by.
Visit www.gaiaretreat.com.au for more information and bookings.
(Also check out Gaia’s blog site at www.gaiaretreat.com.au/blog for some fabulous articles on health and wellbeing. I particularly love the ‘Natural Beauty from the Kitchen’ article)