You don’t need a reason to bliss out on the Gold Coast. But if you’re looking for one, let this wellness itinerary guide your way.
Lay out a picnic rug on a grassy knoll and watch waves lap icing sugar-like shores, where beyond surfers’ glide over turquoise waters. Later, meander through dense native forests to freshwater springs that flow through fern and palm glades; the only sound calming birdsong.
This is relaxation on the Gold Coast, a landscape where the Yugambeh people have lived for thousands of years. Take out six days, and we guarantee you’ll leave feeling Zen.
Vaulted ceilings hand-painted in gold, an antique chandelier centrepiece that once hung in the grand State Library of Milan… Palazzo Versace Gold Coast is dripping in opulence.
It’s the perfect starting point for a few days of urban relaxation. The hotel’s interior might hark to Italy, but its location nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Gold Coast Broadwater estuary is all Queensland.
Reserve one of the hotel’s chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royces and cruise 20 minutes south through Surfers Paradise along the sparkling coast to Soak Bathhouse. Here, slip into mineral-rich indoor and outdoor pools filled with Himalayan rock salts, backdropped by a lush tropical garden. Days of routine and responsibilities will ripple away.
Afterwards, gather picnic supplies from Golosi Food Emporium and sit on the grassy Burleigh Hill, at the northern end of Burleigh National Park – a headland where you can take a short walk to see ancient volcanic columns that tumble into rolling surf.
If you’re visiting between May and September, you’ll likely spot migrating humpback whales frolicking among the many dolphins that call these waters home.
End the day at Australia’s first floating beach club, La Luna. Here, sun lounges, day beds and cabanas ring the dreamy pool. The beach club is modelled after life aboard a luxe yacht with the pared-back style one might expect in the Greek Islands.
Order cocktails while you splash about at sunset, then glide into on-site restaurant Mare for oysters, scallop ceviche and caviar served on ice. Because, why not? The Mediterranean-inspired menu also favours mezze and tapas plates ideal for sharing.
After a lazy morning soaking in your room’s couple-sized bathtub, slip on your swimsuit and grab a beach towel for a day of ocean therapy. Just 40 minutes down the coast is the laid- back surf town of Coolangatta Beach. Head to Snapper Rocks where you can splash about in a man-made, ocean- filled pool while soothed by the sound of waves crashing against the shore.
When hunger calls, you’ll find family-run Greek restaurant Xenia dishing up soul-salving homemade dips, saganaki flamed with ouzo, and slow-cooked lamb shoulder. End on semolina custard filo steeped in spiced syrup with ice cream.
Champagne in hand and the smell of a barbecue cooking on the deck of a superyacht while you float on gin- clear water… does life get any better? Board Mermaid Spirit with Boattime Yacht Charters and chefs will spend the day serving you ocean-fresh fare to a backdrop of Surfers Paradise or the northern islands of Broadwater.
Afterwards, head 20 minutes south and keep the relaxation going at HOTA (Home of the Arts), where you’ll also find The Exhibitionist rooftop bar. Order the ‘Black & White Photography’ cocktail, a mix of whiskey, wattle toffee, cold brew coffee and tonka bean cream. Then dine at HOTA’s Palette restaurant where you can expect decadent dishes like Lady Musgrave Island swordfish with native ginger.
Day four to six
Deep in the Tallebudgera Valley sprawled across 200 hectares, you’ll find Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, an easy hour’s drive from checking out at Palazzo Versace.
This hinterland haven is Australasia’s largest health and wellness retreat on the Gold Coast. You’ll find it a strong tonic to cleanse your mind, body and soul. A two-night wellness weekend will see you savour organic meals, indulge in spa treatments, soak in the infinity-edge pool overlooking the verdant landscape and learn how to take better care of yourself.
Rising with the sun
Days begin in lovely villas or meditation suites with a 5.30am wake-up call for sunrise qi gong; they end early in the restaurant, where organic, vegan meals are created on principles of low-HI (human interaction) – essentially, featuring produce that has undergone minimal or no change from its place in nature to its arrival at the table.
Experiences at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
In between there are rainforest walks, stretching classes, meditation, dancing and ‘dreamtime’: allocated hours to explore the spa. The wellness menu is one of the most extensive, not to mention innovative, of its kind in the world, targeting everything from emotional wellbeing to nourishment to stress resilience and functional movement.
Try the ‘Tribal Dreaming’, incorporating didgeridoo healing, ochre clay body masks and massage that involves chi nei tsang elements. You won’t lose your phone, although use is restricted to your room, which means that when you’re out exploring the rolling valley, there’s nothing left to do but take it all in – one foot on this pretty landscape with its healing vibe, and technology will be the last thing on your mind.
This article was created in partnership with Destination Gold Coast and one of five fantastic Gold Coast itineraries.