Guest post: Written by Steph Mathers
I was recently invited to enjoy a Weekend Retreat at Gwinganna and after such a transformative experience, I thought it was only right that I share as much as possible.
I’ll spare no detail as I take you through the step by step journey of my 2-night stay so you can get a better idea of what to expect at a Gwinganna Wellness Weekend.
On Friday morning, I enjoyed one last swim at the beach before heading up into the hills for my Gwinganna Wellness Weekend.
Immediately greeted by the lovely staff at the front desk, I signed in and had myself and my bags picked up by the helpful young men in their buggy.
We drove down through the grounds and straight to the Orchard Suites' front door where the young men helped me with my bags and left me to unpack.
My colleague Andrea then arrived, and together we spent the first hour of our visit gushing over the joint luxury rooms.
Instantaneously, I felt a sense of calm.
We made our way to the Wellness Education Complex, poured ourselves a delicious cup of herbal tea and found our seats ready for the wellness seminar.
Our Program Manager at Gwinganna gave us a brief run-through of what we could expect from the weekend, without giving it all away.
She then showed us around the grounds so that we were familiar with where to meet for meals, activities and spa treatments.
Afterwards, we headed back to our suite to get ready for dinner.
At dinner, we were seated with three couples who had travelled from across Queensland (thanks to COVID-19 and border restrictions, the majority of us were from Queensland only).
Together, we became acquainted, enjoyed lovely discussion and tucked into our nourishing meal (as well as a delicious glass of organic wine).
If there was one thing I knew I was excited about, it was the food.
And let me tell you, my high expectations were exceeded.
Saturday morning was a shock to the system (I'm not generally a fan of early mornings).
My alarm sounded at 5:30 am (This changes to 6 am in the months after March) and I pulled myself out of my cozy bed, got dressed and prepared for the first activity of the weekend - Qi Gong.
Don’t be too alarmed - early mornings activities are not compulsory, but I thought I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t soak up all that Gwinganna had to offer.
We met with the rest of the guests at the Dining Room for a hot cup of tea before heading to the Mind Body Pavillion for our Qi Gong session.
Thanks to the rain, our guides opted to take the session inside rather than on the hillside.
I didn't expect myself to enjoy Qi Gong quite as much as I did, nor waking up at 5.30 am for that matter.
But I can’t stress enough how soul-soothing it was.
I had originally planned to wake up early one of the mornings, but after Saturday's Qi Gong session, I wasn't going to miss Sunday's.
After Qi Gong, we had some fresh fruit, organic coffee and herbal tea whilst our guides explained our hikes options that morning.
Andrea and I decided to take the less challenging hike and take time to enjoy the scenery.
When we returned, we were more than ready for breakfast to be served.
The chefs served us plenty of delicious, seasonal fruits, organic bread and plenty more.
YIN & YANG ACTIVITIES
Each morning after breakfast, our instructors provided us with a choice between two types of activities, yin & yang.
Yin was a gentle and restorative activity, while yang was a more challenging workout, and the decision was to be made at that moment, depending on how you were feeling.
Andrea and I both opted for the yin option that morning and headed over to the Hangar for a joint mobility class.
I learnt so much about our joints and how important it is to maintain them with consistent stretching and movement.
Yoga was another highlight for me.
Our instructor was so knowledgeable and offered plenty of options to challenge yourself.
I felt a sense of achievement after each and every class.
LUNCH & STEAM ROOM
We then headed to the Dining Room for lunch and after replenishing our bodies with fresh food, we hit the steam room.
The steam room was incredibly therapeutic.
The room itself takes you away to another world as you sweat out all of those nasty toxins.
Afterwards, I felt so incredibly fresh and rejuvenated.
If I wasn't already walking on a cloud after the steam room, I sure was after my 80-minute remedial massage.
Don't take it just from me. Andrea and some of our fellow guests told me I was glowing!
My therapist listened intently to my concerns and gave the best massage I can say I’ve ever had.
I met with Andrea afterwards, and together we sat in our robes on the elevated outdoor deck with a steaming cup of tea in hand looking out over the spa sanctuary as it began to drizzle.
We headed back to our room, showered and changed before heading back to the Dining Room for dinner.
This was when I felt my exhaustion take over.
It made me realise just how important it is to rest and restore your body and your mind from time to time.
After dinner, I headed back to my room, put on my robe, read my book and fell asleep to the soothing sounds of wildlife outside my room.
That night I had the best sleep I can recall.
As we headed to our Qi Gong class, it dawned on us that our final day at Gwinganna was already upon us.
Thankfully that morning was dry, and we could take our session to the lawn in front of the exercise pool overlooking the beautiful Tallebudgera Valley and out to the ocean.
The sunrise was spectacular.
After Qi Gong, we had the choice of a gentle bushwalk or a more challenging hike.
Andrea opted for yin, and I decided to challenge myself and take on the yang activity that was the Sunset Walk.
On the Sunset Walk, we scaled up some steep hills, but the view of the entire Gold Coast was well worth it.
BREAKFAST & YOGA
It was bittersweet, but we had to make the most of our final breakfast and yoga class.
After Yoga, Andrea and I played a few games of chess on the giant chess board outside the amphitheatre.
She doesn't like to admit it, but I won the best of three.
Afterwards, we headed back to our rooms and packed our bags ready for departure.
Once our bags were packed, we headed up to the Wellness Education Complex for the Wellness Seminar.
We poured ourselves a steaming cup of tea, grabbed our delicious morning tea made by the retreat chefs and found our seats.
Our presenter was incredibly knowledgeable about health and nutrition.
She taught me so many things about the circadian rhythm, the effect of stress levels on the mind and body as well as how to incorporate simple changes into my lifestyle to improve my wellbeing.
On our way to lunch, we crossed trails with a peacock.
He wasn’t even slightly fazed by us sauntering past him as we headed to the Dining Room for our last lunch.
We then enjoyed the freshest and most delicious seafood paella I’ve ever had.
After our final meal, we headed over to reception to collect our bags and made our way home.
My overall experience
Overall, my experience at Gwinganna was unforgettable.
The immediate sense of relaxation and restoration made me appreciate how important it is to relieve your mind and body from time to time.
It’s something that I will continue making time for in the future.
One last thing I never thought I’d be so grateful for - restricted use of devices in public spaces.
Although you’re free to use your device in allocated areas and within your room, I personally loved the fact that I had the choice to disconnect for the weekend entirely.
I would highly recommend everybody experience Gwinganna at least once in their lives. It truly is life-changing.
You can read about another experience at Gwinganna here.