Gwinganna Health Retreat: Gold Coast, Australia

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Where Is It: Tallebudgera Valley, in the Gold Coast Hinterland near Coolangatta.

Why Go: It’s a full service health retreat and spa nestled in gorgeous countryside.

Best For: Groups of friends, or couples, looking to improve their health or simply have a healthy and restful weekend.

Three Things We Loved: The Moonarie Villas, the infinity pool, the lineup of activities.

The Ultimate Factor: The tranquility.


Health retreats take a multitude of forms today with some operating in a relaxed manner more akin to luxury spas, and others where you’re committed to vegan cuisine and few other day-to-day luxuries. Gwinganna Health Retreat, which nestles on a mountainside just back from the Gold Coast’s sparkling beaches, it a bit of both. Mobile phones are banned except for use in your accommodation and specific areas, and there’s no TV, radio or newspapers. However, you’ll be eating mostly organic healthful cuisine which does include meat, and a glass of wine if desired, and you have a lineup of mind-body-spirit actives on offer to fill the days. The retreat is set in tranquil and expansive grounds, and ticks all the boxes where leisure facilities are concerned. There are also a number of retreats you can choose from, beginning with a two-night weekend stay, which is great for newbies as well as an effective introduction, through to a seven-night full-on detox program. I was invited to join a two-night weekend stay, which begins around lunchtime on Friday, and ends two days later. What’s included in the package is eco-accommodation, all food and drinks, a 50 minute massage, a wellness seminar, access to all facilities, scheduled activities including yoga and bushwalking, and a courtesy bus to transfer you and from Gold Coast Airport at set times. It couldn’t be easier, right?

The Accommodation

Gwinganna has a wide range of accommodations on offer to suit virtually all needs, including single rooms for solo travellers. There are Orchard Suites, built from reclaimed timber and featuring high ceilings, nestled into the property's pretty orchard, and ranging from a deluxe studio to a two-bedroom suite. There's also Peel house, a fully restored heritage cottage with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, Gwinganna House overlooking the valleys, and more. There are Heritage rooms which are close to the central facilities and come in various categories, and Meditation Suites located within Gwinganna’s orchard. At the top of scale is a range of villas including two split level Billabong Villas built from Australian reclaimed timber, Moonarie Villas featuring a private deck and plunge pool, and two Boorabee Villas tucked away in the mountain scape. 

Where I Stayed

My home for the weekend was a Moonarie Villa tucked away at the back of the retreat, which I would access using my own personal electric buggy, or a longish walk. Boasting privacy, commanding views of the local countryside and distant coastline, and with a large deck with a day bed and private plunge pool, I asked the staff member escorting me there why anyone would want to leave. “You’ll see,” was her response, with a knowing smile. These open-plan Villas are obviously designed for longer stays, and have a contemporary, light-filled style with of places to kick back and relax including a large deck and private plunge pool with lovely views. Features include a king size bed, and a private laundry with a washer and dryer.

What Else Is There

There is a single dining room where all meals are taken, al-fresco and indoors, which is part of the original buildings at Gwinganna. During the day or before dinner, you can relax on day beds and lounges with cushions, and on cooler nights with the bonus of an open fireplace. The Dining Room overlooks the serene infinity edge relaxation pool with sundecks. Meals are communal, and on my first night seating was pre arranged. When it comes to cuisine, forget any notions of a super-strict diet of raw veggies and no meat. Much of what is served at Gwinganna in terms of fruits, vegetable and herbs is grown on the property between several gardens and orchards, while the rest is purchased locally with a focus on free range or organic, and of course optimum health. The Spa Sanctuary is where you enjoy spa treatments, housed in three individual buildings that come together in circular form to create the entire spa compound of 1500sqm over three levels. There are 33 individually designed rooms, several double rooms, an elevated outdoor deck, the serene Whisper Lounge, a crystal steam room, and an outdoor rain shower and locker rooms. Other facilities at Gwinganna include a fully-equipped gym, a lap pool in addition to the relaxation pool, an indoor activities studio, a Mind-Body Pavilion, a Wellness Centre, an amphitheatre, and tennis courts.

The Verdict

Gwinganna isn’t as strict as some health retreats when it comes to wakeup times or cuisine, but when you visit you will find there is a certain amount of routine and plenty of group activities. The span of accommodations is impressive, there are opportunities to opt out, and the spa facility is amazing. If you’re already a health conscious individual or couple, you’ll fit right in, but if you’re not it won’t take long to learn some valuable tips to improve your health and wellbeing.

Gwinganna Health Retreat is located at 192 Syndicate Rd, Tallebudgera Valley, Queensland, 1800 219 272,

Joanna Hall