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Health and Wellness

The Ultimate Self Top Up – Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

June 27th, 2015  |  Health and Wellness

Hello there,

For my 40th birthday this year, my husband bought me a wellness weekend at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat (I don’t say those words lightly, this was a BIG deal for me and a BIG present that I feel immensely grateful for). I can say without a doubt that this really was the best birthday present I have ever received. Gwinganna had been on my bucket list for quite some time (I was quite delighted my husband James had noted that). Three full days without my kids and complete indulgence in myself in a truly magical place in the world – how could it not be amazing?

I have to say I felt like my retreat began the minute I sat down on the plane from Sydney to the Gold Coast. The novelty of travelling without two kids under four was overwhelming. I read my magazine from cover to cover for the first time in years, I gazed out the window and daydreamed uninterrupted and arrived without being covered in food scraps, spilled liquid or baby sick.

I digress, Gwinganna! A small group of us were collected at the airport and whisked off to the majestic south Queensland hinterland, where Gwingana resided amongst 200 hectares of rolling tropical landscape. We were greeted by Kay, a slender, radiant woman whose whole body glowed with the words ‘I’m so freakin healthy’! I don’t know how old Kay was but I knew she looked 10 or 15 years younger than she really was.  The words ‘I want what she’s having’ drifted through my mind several times that weekend.

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat


Taking a dip in one of the beautiful Gwinganna Pools.

So the wellness weekend began with a bite of lunch, an orientation, a then wander around the stunning grounds and award-winning spa. For those who wanted there was a sunset walk along one of the many walking trails, followed by dinner and an early night in preparation for a 5 am start (this of course only if you wanted to join in the activities). I am finding I could write a book about this place so I’ll move to bullet points so you can get the abridged version of what a wellness weekend in Gwinganna consists of.

Note: I have no affiliation with Gwinganna (I wish I did J). This is just an account of my personal experience at the retreat.

Who goes there? 

  • From what I could see, mostly women but there were also some couples and a few men there too.
  • Ages ranged from 25 – 65
  • Most people came on their own but we all left knowing so many new and interesting people (which is something I especially loved about it)

Typical Day at Gwinganna
At Gwinganna everything is optional – if you feel like spending the whole time by the pool you are welcome to do this but for me, the daily activities and schedule were definitely a highlight. The mornings were busy and the afternoons were relaxed. The free time in the afternoon was called Dreamtime. During this time you could read, enjoy spa treatments or therapies, swim in the infinity pool, lounge in the crystal steam room or do whatever else you wanted.

Sunrise Qi Gong


Sunrise Qi Gong – what a way to start the day.

Here is a typical schedule:

  • 5.30am – wake up
  • 6am – Gong (like Tai Chi) at sunrise (simply beautiful)
  • 6.45am – either a relaxed or moderate walk through the extensive walking trails
  • 7.30 to 9am – breakfast (very hungry by this stage)
  • 9am – stretch Class (similar to yoga)
  • 9.30 – 11am – scheduled activities – i.e. dance, boxing, aqua aerobics, core work (they                      really were fun and had wonderful teachers)
  • 11am – Morning tea
  • 11.30am – Pillars of Wellness seminar (will tell you more about that)
  • 1pm – lunch
  • 2 to 7pm – Dreamtime (if you have booked treatments you do it at this time)
  • 4pm – Afternoon tea
  • 6pm – Relaxation
  • 7pm – Dinner

The Food

Frittita for Breakfast

Breakfast frittata anyone?

  • Delicious wholesome flavorsome food (I looked forward to every meal!)
  • Menus designed for nutritionists and chefs
  • Fresh, local and certified organic
  • Catering for all kinds of dietary requirements
  • Follow the SLOW philosophy Seasonal, Local, Organic, Wholefood
  • Personal favourite

The Treatments 

Gwinganna has one of the most extensive lists of spa treatments I encountered on my retreat travels. The spa, although quite unassuming from the outside, is one of the biggest spas in the Southern Hemisphere, with 33 custom designed spa rooms. It is so beautifully designed and integrated with a tropical native garden that you feel like you have entered a cocoon of wellness as you come through the front doors.

The choices are incredible as is the quality. Gwinganna has won a number of spa awards for their treatments. Some examples of treatments include Live Blood Analysis, Nutrition advice, Aloha Lomi Lomi Ritual, Acupuncture, facials, and array of massages – the list goes on.

What I Tried? 

I decided to try two therapies – one focusing on my mind and one focusing on my body. I opted for something I was probably unlikely to do elsewhere: the Equine Therapy – definitely something a bit off-piste. Equine Therapy is therapy assisted by horses. An amazing physiotherapist called Jane guided me through the therapy, in which she integrated the horses into the therapy (the exercise took place in a picturesque paddock at Gwinganna). We explored behaviors and patterns that were no longer serving me and had become unconscious ways of being. I found the therapy incredibly emotional, moving and positive. The 80 minutes flew by. I feel like I could write an entire blog on just this one experience – it was deeply profound.

The second therapy I tried was the Spirit of Sound, an award-winning Gwinganna therapy that was so dreamy and relaxing, I just soaked up every minute of it. The Spirit of Sound is a unique kind of massage choreographed to tribal music (meaning the therapist massaged you to the music if that makes sense). Hawaiian Basalt stones are used on the body too, which feels heavenly. This treatment worked the meridians of the body and is said to be an ancient practice to wake up the cells and psyche. I have to say for me, at the end of it I felt more deeply relaxed than I had in years.
Nourishing Hub wellness weekend

The Highlights

  • The beautiful wholesome wholefood made to fine dining standards
  • The gorgeous people I met over the weekend
  • The stunning grounds
  • The infinity pool looking out to the ocean
  • A technology detox for most of the days – no wifi here!
  • The award-winning treatments and spa
  • The Equine Therapy
  • The staff – all incredibly well trained and attentive to your personal needs

The Lowlights
It really was hard to pick out the low lights. The whole place runs like clockwork and it is hard to fault it.

  • Accommodation is simple (relative to the price you are paying) but very little time is spent in the room.


For me, Gwinganna really did tick every box for an ideal health retreat. I left feeling mentally and physically rejuvenated and inspired. I had been nourished with beautiful food, educated by health leaders and I finally had space to go through my thoughts (limiting and expanding).  My only wish was that I could have stayed longer 🙂

My Travel Essentials 

Here are a few goodies I took along with for my trip. All products are nontoxic, natural products that are so good to have on hand when on the move.

1. Eco Vessel Glass Drink Bottle (in my effort to move away from plastic)
2. Bush Flower Essence Love System Travel – Skin and Space Mist (so lovely to spray on arrival to your new abode)
3. Loran Jane’s Move, Nourish, Believe 2015 Diary – I wrote a lot of notes on this trip.
4. Vanessa Megan Bug Off Me – Natural Insect Repellent (we always take one of these on our travels)
5. Arianna Huffington’s Book – Thrive….will I ever finish this book I ask myself (as good as it is!)
6. Lucas Hugh Exercise Leggings, I just adore these (my beautiful Friend Anje Mules designs them in London). When I wear these it is the only time I truly exhibit a flat stomach (almost)…there is magic in these pants!
7. UV Natural – sunscreen minus the nasties

    health products online australia

Have a beautiful weekend!




Simone Denny is a qualified Life Coach, a Mind Detox practitioner, Epigenetic Health Coach, Mindfulness Facilitator, Podcast Host, and Speaker. She runs wellness workshops and international health retreats, where she shares her passion for mind-body wellness. After many years in Investment banking, Simone now teaches corporates and individuals how to find and live on purpose.


Simone Denny Wellness

Simone Denny Wellness

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