Photo credit: Aro Hā
Travel may be good for the soul but often, it’s not so great for our gut. Unfamiliar and overly rich foods, dehydration and more alcohol than usual are just some of the digestion-disruptors we can encounter while on holidays.
Finding nutrient-dense food and gut-friendly ingredients can be challenging unless you know where to go. Throw in a few food intolerances and you may even wind up wishing you were back home. While healthy holidays require a little more upfront research than your standard getaway – careful planning ensures carefree escapes!
Here are a few of our favourite holiday retreats that your body, mind and gut will love…
When it comes to total body restoration and resetting bad habits, Gwinganna is the real deal. This health haven is easy to reach – just a short drive from Coolangatta airport – and feels like heaven on earth. Along with long daily hikes in the lush Gold Coast hinterland and guided workouts, the program includes daily seminars to ensure you take your new healthy habits home with you. The wholefood cuisine is seasonal, organic – often harvested daily from the extensive, onsite gardens – and prepared with plenty of TLC. Portion sizes are also cleverly curated to help reset your appetite and prevent overeating. Luckily however, the spa treatment menu is super indulgent so you certainly won’t feel deprived. Throughout your stay, you are encouraged to eat and move mindfully for deep, lasting effects.
Gaia means spirit of Mother Earth and this retreat – located just 20 minutes from Byron Bay in Northern NSW – serves up some of the best cuisine our planet has to offer. The retreat restaurant, Kukura House, sources food from the organic garden plus taps into the abundance of local produce in the surrounding hinterland. Flexibility is also on the menu, allowing you to check in any day for a two, three, five or seven night stay. You can also choose which wellness package and spa treatments suit you best. Combine them with gentle daily yoga, nature walks, organic cooking classes and decadent spa treatments to complete your reset.
While this one certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, if you’re seeking total transformation, consider signing up to the NIH Fasting Detox Health Retreat. Hosted at the base of Mount Warning near Byron Bay, it’s an 8-night retreat that aims to purge accumulated toxins and acid wastes while activating your body’s healing responses. The program includes practitioner-prescribed herbs and natural supplements to encourage elimination, enemas, dry skin brushing, yoga, meditation, massages, herbal teas and 4–5 daily “detox” shakes made from juice, bentonite clay and psyllium husk. NIH also runs retreats in Ubud, Bali’s relaxation epicentre, where you can choose from a range of options including fasting detoxes or superfood cleanses.
When you need a quick escape, Elsyia is just a two and a half hour drive from Sydney – yet a world away from everything. While the wifi is weak (you need to take a long walk right down to the main gate) the surrounding – often parched, brown – Hunter Valley hills are strangely soothing for overstimulated minds. You can choose how little or how much you engage in the activities on offer which include cycling, tennis, sunrise tai chi, meditation, yoga and evening wellness seminars. Although it’s tempting to just divide your time between the steam room and the delicious wholefood dining room.
For those seeking a healing journey a little further afield, here are some ideas for healthy overseas holidays…
Whether you’re seeking a complete reset or simply a tropical retreat, this is the perfect luxurious and holistic solution. Offering three to 21-day programs – and located just a short drive from Ubud – the luxurious Como Shambala Estate combines the very best of east and west healing philosophies. There are two restaurants on the property: Kudus serving Indonesian and the health-focused Glow which includes many raw dishes on its menu. Both restaurants apply a field-to-table philosophy, sourcing local ingredients wherever possible. To get you moving there are jungle treks, yoga, pilates and hydrotherapy.
If doing eight hours of exercise every day for seven days is your idea of a good time – then this is the place for you! LA’s most luxurious boot camp sits atop the Santa Monica Mountains, overlooking Malibu’s celebrity-studded coastline below. Upon arrival you will have your body composition and cholesterol tested before checking into your calm, white-washed, private cabin. Days begin at 5am with yoga before breakfast. Then, it’s a four-hour group hike, lunch, guided afternoon workouts and massage before more yoga and dinner. The meals are organic, vegetarian and low calorie but nutrient-dense. Strictly no alcohol, dairy, caffeine or sugar allowed. Just plenty of fresh air, exercise and sleep. Bliss.
You’ve likely already seen the yoga asanas silhouetted against that stunning South Island backdrop on Instagram… but Aro Hā in New Zealand is also famous for its stunning (and challenging) three to four hour hikes along mountainous trails. After lunch, the afternoons are all about workouts and deep tissue treatments. Everyone follows the same schedule. Think cardio, stretch, restricted calories, and deep, restorative sleep – on repeat for five to seven days. Fortunately, you will also have the most mind-blowing scenery to distract you. The plant-based menu is delicious and as picture-perfect as that incredible yoga studio.
For more wellness inspiration, visit The Digest.