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Spa Retreats: Aro Ha Wellness Retreat, New Zealand
Where Is It: Approximately 40 minutes from Queenstown in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island, along the road to Paradise.
Why Go: It’s an all inclusive, health, wellness and active weight loss retreat.
Best For: Those looking for romantic healthy getaways, weekend or weeklong breaks, including couples and friends.
Three Things We Loved: Fabulous hikes, delicious food, great company and plenty of inspiration.
The Ultimate Factor: A spectacular location with panoramic views overlooking snow capped mountains and majestic aquamarine lakes.
I love a good health retreat and I’m always first in line when someone suggests one with luxury accommodation has launched. So when I heard about Aro Ha, the brand-new purpose built luxury health and fitness eco-resort near Queenstown, offering sub-alpine hiking, rejuvenating spa treatments and absolutely amazing food, I was on my way. I felt like Dorothy on the yellow brick road as we drove towards Paradise (yes, that is its real name) a quaint town perched at the end of what is surely one of the world’s most scenic roads. At Aro Ha’s gates, as we witnessed a ewe giving birth we knew the magic had begun. My friend and I were met at the main lodge with warm greetings, healthy snacks and served cups of tea in the retreat’s cosy guest lounge. And after being shown to our rooms it was off for a hike around the property to get our bearings. I’m not sure which was literally more breathtaking - the steep climbs or the panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu. This is ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ territory and Mother Nature is at her best, ideal for couples or friends, with physically stimulating programs to help sculpt both the body and the mind.
When first shown to our rooms, it was a little disconcerting to discover I may have had to share a bathroom with another guest. There are eight accommodation units here; each has two rooms side by side and a shared bathroom with a central tea station between them. Given that our group was nine, fortunately we did end up each having our own individual facilities. And to my great surprise, the presence of a ‘lodge buddy’ made it feel rather like an informal, friendly but very luxurious school camp.
Where We Stayed:
By design, Aro Ha encourages shared space. The eco-friendly, minimalistic rooms feature chic recycled timbers, luxurious bedding, organic cotton linen and natural beauty products and needless to say, every room has been designed to take in the incredibly stunning views of the lake and mountains beyond.
What Else Is There:
Aro Ha is all-inclusive, with every meal factored in the daily rate along with activities. The central yoga space is the hub for all the yin and yang yoga, clinical pilates, functional training, movement and meditation that make up the Aro Ha offering. If you’re a fan of serious hiking, Aro Ha, satisfies here too. Every morning, after waking early, practicing yoga and enjoying a delicious paleo vegan breakfast, we all geared up and were driven offsite to discover a new walking destination. The trails here are world famous so it was exciting to discover the Routeburn Track – which is known to be one of the worlds best. After three hours of hiking our bodies cried out to be pampered, so it was off to the Spa Pavilion after lunch where we were treated to a wonderfully therapeutic, deep tissue, full body massage. Each masseur an expert, we also took advantage of the steam room, the dry Finnish sauna and cool infrared sauna. For those of us daring enough to take an icy cold plunge before finishing off with a soak in the stunning outdoor infinity hot tub, these treats were simply blissful.
You get clean air at Aro Ha and the food is pristine. Almost half of what is served is grown on the property and the changing menu is both creative and nutrient dense whilst being totally vegetarian. Every meal is so visually appealing providing great fodder for Instagrammers. At mealtime, staff sit with guests gazing either to the open kitchen or across towards magnificent views of the mountains, chatting about the day’s activities or discussing deeper topics like the meaning of life. Many guests come to Aro Ha with weight loss on their minds but quite a few leave committed to making ongoing life changes, dedicated to a healthier way of life generally. Some even become converts to the diet that features no grains, no coffee, no alcohol, no meat or fish, no gluten and no sugar.
I loved Aro Ha and would return in a heartbeat. I would probably opt for the seven-day retreat rather than the five as it does take a couple of days to settle down and become used to the way of life. Aro Ha is a wonderful investment in wellness – an unforgettable gift to one’s self for either a spectacular holiday destination or a luxury romantic spa break. It’s no wonder this haven is located where it is… Aro Ha is certainly the closest thing to Paradise I’ve ever discovered.
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Aro Ha Wellness Retreat is located at 33 Station Valley Rd, Wyuna, Glenorchy 9350, New Zealand, www.aro-ha.com. Retreats are priced from NZD $4,550 or a 5 day course.
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