|Escape to Mother Earth|
Superstars have down times too, and Olivia Newton-John had a particularly tough time the year her beloved mother died. She came home to Australia to deal with her grief, meeting up with long-term friend, designer Gregg Cave, who was also saddened as Olivia’s mother had been a mentor to him for many years.
Together they went to the far north of NSW, originally looking for a bolthole for Gregg, but when they came across a disused former retreat, they instantly switched plans, deciding instead to open a spa retreat that would nurture others.
Olivia, herself, feels a deep connection with the land, crediting Mother Earth, known in Sanskrit as Gaia, for much of her healing from breast cancer in the 1990s. As she recovered she recorded an album with this name, and now it seemed appropriate to use this name for the retreat as well.
Gaia’s stunning location on a hillside with forever views across green rolling pastures and hills toward the ocean in the distance, is therapeutic from the outset.
The group of owners (including Olivia, and Gregg, who is now the on-site manager) needed to make extensive renovations to the Kukura House, a Samoan longhouse-style main room which houses the lounge and dining area, and a large outdoor deck was added. Now furnished with cane furniture it’s the ideal place to relax and take in THAT view.
Inside, Gregg Cave’s talents came to the fore creating a harmonious space, sparked by floating fabric panels in sunset colours.
Finally the retreat was ready for opening, and Olivia returned to be present for it at the end of February 2005. She keeps a close interest in Gaia, as it has become a tangible link with both Australia and her mother. Indeed, some of her mother’s photographs feature throughout the retreat.
The twenty original timber cottages (which means the retreat accommodates a maximum of only forty guests at any time) were turned into three levels of very private accommodation: two sizes of rooms, and self-contained apartments with spas, all overlooking tropical gardens. Naturally, the refurbishment, with contemporary decor and inclusions was overseen by Gregg.
Guests can take part in daily yoga, tai chi, and meditation, and enjoy the swimming pool and sauna. The adjacent Amala Day Spa offers a range of healing treatments and massages, and guests may also play day or night tennis, go bushwalking, or join a Pilates or stretch class.
Meals, served in the longhouse, as you’d expect emphasise local seasonal (often organic) produce and chef Todd Cameron is happy to tailor dishes to guests’ needs and choices.
It’s all about peace, harmony and renewal – but with style. Olivia has a name for it - ‘barefoot meets Armani’ she calls it.
There are three-, five- and seven-night packages available, with a range of resort inclusions.
Daily flights of one-hour from Sydney to Ballina airport on Virgin Blue with a twenty-minute transfer.
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