THE waterfall gushes like a South Pacific socialite and indeed, that’s precisely how I feel, lounging in this crisp, private pool, replete with my own bodyguard to ensure no one interrupts my island idyll. I am on assignment for Luxury Escapes, Australia’s fastest growing online travel holiday business. And this delicious destination in which I find myself is Fiji’s luxurious Namale Resort & Spa, on the remote northern island of Savusavu.
I exit the waterfall with what I imagine is all the elegance of a mermaid, dine on prawns and sip champagne with Mother Nature as my only companion, before sashaying back to my villa, Rosi, one of 19 beautiful bures on this yawning 212ha property. What I didn’t know before checking in, is that not only is this resort owned by renowned motivational guru Tony Robbins, he was meant to be on the island at the same time as me.
I glance at the full-sized pool table in my villa lounge room, and picture asking Tony over to sink some balls and shoot the breeze. I can imagine Tony saying something profound such as “The path to success is to take massive, determined action” while I would razzle dazzle him with a few of my own motivational quotes such as “Always use butter first if you are going to make a Vegemite sandwich” or, equally inspirational “Never date a Brisbane bloke” Tony, you’re welcome.
In Tony’s absence I easily entertain myself on this expansive property, which boasts an activity centre, fitness centre, tennis court, 9-hole golf course and two swimming pools. Impressively, it also houses Fiji’s only bowling alley, affectionately known as the Kava Bowl and at which I initially thought I was being taken for a traditional kava ceremony. Bit early, even for me, I thought to myself, and was relieved when I realised it was, in fact, a bowling alley. Plonked in the middle of the South Pacific. There’s also an indoor golf simulator here, more than 700 movies and an indoor basketball centre. In short, there’s plenty to do on a tropical rainy day.
Namale’s other claim to fame is that in terms of actual size, it is home to the largest day spa in the South Pacific with the Valeni Sasauni Spa Sanctuary measuring 10,000 square feet. It is here, nestled among the cliffs overlooking the Koro Sea, that I indulge in a 75-minute Ultimate Fusion Massage combining soft tissue, Swedish, and hot stone therapies while listening to the waves crash against the rocks outside. Afterwards, I shower naked outside. Again, Fijian fishermen, you’re welcome.
There’s also plenty of active outdoor options and I join the boys from the dive centre one sunny Sunday afternoon and we board the Namale Pearl anchored in Savusavu Harbour and head out to the Lighthouse Reef. Here, we drop anchor, slip into Fiji’s famed warm waters and spend a sublime hour snorkelling with tropical fish, turtles and black and white tipped reef sharks. It’s enough to work up an appetite which is just as well as there is nothing The Global Goddess loves more than an impressively-stocked bar and canapés before a multi-course dinner served with local produce. Yes, this is an all-inclusive resort and I mingle with the other guests, before we sit down to the nightly entertainment, which introduces us to local culture through the employees and their families from the two neighbouring villages. With a staff to guest ratio of 3:1, you’ll never feel alone here, unless, of course that is your wish.
Namale Co General Manager Nowdla Keefe says despite his fame, Tony has not branded the resort in his name, as he prefers to adopt a low-key approach to the former coconut plantation which started out as his home, 27 years ago.
“He would bring family and friends and they would open up for him and then close the resort but then it got to the point where they decided to keep it open,” she says.
“His intent is that everybody experiences what he experienced when he first came to Fiji. It’s about disconnecting from the world and reconnecting with yourself. A lot of the staff have been here a long time, 70 per cent come from of the two neighbouring villages and they feel like it is theirs. The service you experience comes from the heart.
“He’s very congruent, he walks the talk and the staff love him.”
Can you picture yourself in this pool? Check out this great deal with Luxury Escapes
Guests are encouraged to leave a piece of themselves at the resort and are invited to inscribe a stone with their name, which will be placed at a locale of their choice upon departure. And instead of tips, guests have the option of donating to the Namale Staff Appreciation Fund; The Namale Education Fund; and/or The Namale Medical Fund; which all support the local villages.
One of the absolute standouts of a stay at Namale is its private dining options and apart from my waterfall experience, there’s also a surprise dinner option. On my last night I am whisked away in the dark, and deposited on a beach under the stars. At my table for one I’m served locally-caught lobster and fine Australian wine. Just when I think things can’t get any better (and that I am becoming very good at romancing myself), out of the bushes pops a Fijian man with a guitar. He proceeds to strum 10 stirring love songs. And I am reminded of another Tony quote “We can change our lives. We can do, have and be exactly what we wish” And right now, on this remote Fijian beach, under a moon as round as a coconut, that’s precisely here.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Namale Resort & Spa. This post is sponsored by Luxury Escapes whose travel packages are personally tested by one of their expert travel team. Her opinions remain her own.
PLONKED in the South Pacific Ocean, some 1000km from anywhere, it would be easy to assume there’s little to do on Norfolk Island. Don’t. While this Australian territory is relatively remote, there’s so much to experience you’ll wish you’d stayed longer. Here’s my top 10 tips for a holiday here.
1. Learn the history
To understand Norfolk Island, you should first wrap your head around its history. And it’s beautifully complicated. To assist with this journey, head straight to the Kingston area where, among the preserved ruins of prisons, stately homes and other historic buildings, you’ll find four magnificent museums containing scores of relics which tell the story of the Pitcairn Islanders, the convicts, their jailors, and the settlers.
2. Meet a Norfolk Islander
By the time you’ve left Norfolk Island, you’ll be pretty convinced you’ve met every one of its 1600 permanent residents as they pop up everywhere, often working several jobs. To glean a sense of how the locals live, join Rhonda Griffiths on her new tour “The Contemporary Islander” which showcases her 130-year-old home built during the Melanesian Mission and some traditional island food and customs as well.
3. Explore Colleen McCullough’s house
You don’t even need to have read The Thorn Birds, of any of her other 26 books, to appreciate a visit to famed Australian author Colleen McCullough’s house. Baunti Escapes will take you to this beautiful haven where you can wander through the eclectic art collection which this writer, who died in 2015, loved so much.
4. Eat Locally
There’s some great cafes and restaurants on Norfolk Island. For breakfast on the verandah, served with a smile, head to the Olive. Delicious dining can be had at Hilli Restaurant and Dino’s, both beautiful buildings with some fine fare. To truly taste the island, out at Anson Bay, Hilli Goat Farm Tour allows you to meet the island’s only goats, and even milk them, before you indulge in a feast of goat’s cheese and Norfolk Pine smoked ham, among an array of treats.
5. Visit the island’s only winery
In what is one of Australia’s most remote wineries, you’ll find the friendly faces of Two Chimneys Wines owners Rod and Noelene McAlpine who planted their first grapes in 2003 and found that chambourcin was perfect for the Norfolk climate. These days they produce four different types of wine on the island, and several others on the mainland, and bottle 1500 a year. Noelene’s antipasto platters are legendary on the island.
6. Indulge in a massage
Seeking a cliff top massage? Then head to Bedrock along the deliciously-named Bullocks Hut Road where gifted remedial massage therapist Heidi will pummel your body to perfection while the ocean smashes the cliffs below. You’ll adore the views here from the specially-designed platforms after which you can indulge in tea, coffee and light lunches.
7. Take a ghost tour
Local historian Liz McCoy reckons Norfolk Island is one of the most haunted destinations in Australia. And with such a brutal history, it’s easy to see why. Join Liz on her Twilight Tour of the Kingston area and you may just experience a spook or two. Liz also restores the magnificent headstones in the cemetery and has a tawdry tale or two about her own ghostly encounters in the area.
8. Discover nature
You don’t have to look far to experience nature on Norfolk Island, it finds you. From its glorious National Parks to its incredible surrounding ocean, there’s plenty to satisfy the wildlife warrior within. Walk the National Parks, snorkel her reef, go sea kayaking, visit Cockpit Waterfall, and witness the sea birds on nearby Phillip Island. Norfolk Island even plants 100 pine trees for every resident who lives to a century. To date, there have been three, all women.
9. See a show
If you think there’s no entertainment on Norfolk Island, think again. One of the most delightful ways to spend a Wednesday afternoon is at the Ferny Lane Theatre, an old-style theatre where you can sit on a comfy couch, drink a glass of wine, and watch the Trial of the Fifteen play which gives an entertaining and informative overview of Norfolk’s history. On weekends, you can catch a movie at this same theatre. For something more contemporary, the Jolly Roger hosts live music five nights a week with jolly good meals to match.
10. Hire a moke
Despite measuring just 8km x 5km, Norfolk Island boasts 160km of roads. And one of the best ways to explore these is with the roof down. You can hire a Moke from MOKEabout and drive the island’s rolling green hills to your heart’s content. One of the pure delights of driving on Norfolk Island is that it’s customary to wave to passing cars and pedestrians, which is bound to leave a smile on your face. Oh, and cows get right of way.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Norfolk Island Tourism – http://www.norfolkisland.com.au and Air New Zealand – http://www.airnewzealand.com; and stayed at Broad Leaf Villas – http://www.broadleafvillas.com
THE very first thing I learned when I moved to Brisbane almost 20 years ago is that the city is divided into two tribes. Those who live north of the Brisbane River, and those who live to the south. So distinct is this demarcation you could be talking about the Scottish and the English. Turns out I’m a true northerner through and through and, with some shame, admit that in two decades I’ve never ever stopped to explore the south, rather giving it a cursory glance on my way to the Gold Coast. But this all changed on the weekend when I was given the opportunity to “cross the river”, pause, and reflect on what the south has to offer. And what I discovered was that the south has soul in spades. Just as the human body has 7 chakras, here’s 7 ways you can discover the spirit of the south side.
1. Back to the bush
Redlands IndiScapes Centre is Australia’s first environmental centre for indigenous plants, and I’m stunned to learn it’s been here for 15 years and I’ve never visited. Which is my great loss, as this 14.5ha site is home to 14 demonstration gardens, more than a kilometre of walking tracks, an environmental information centre and a 600-year-old Tallowwood tree. The good news is that 55,000 visitors a year have discovered this bush beauty which hosts a range of events all designed to acquaint Brisbane residents with native plants. Bush Care Extension Officer Travis Green is passionate about this patch and works with 300 volunteers who plant 20,000 trees in the Redlands region each year. Make sure you stop for a bite in the breezy tea garden café where you can sip on lemon myrtle ice tea while eating native bush tucker.
2. Red, red wine
Regular readers will know that The Global Goddess is rather partial to a drop of wine, or three, and I am more than happy to support local wine makers, all in the name of story research and robust good health, of course. Sirromet Wines at Mount Cotton is one of Queensland’s stunning success stories, clocking up more than 780 national and international awards. Opened by businessman Terry Morris in 2000, this gorgeous property overlooks southern Moreton Bay and produced 640 tonnes, or 500,000 bottles, of wine last year. A highlight of a visit here is the timber antique wine press which dates back to 1793 and hails from the Austrian Hungarian Empire. Around 3500 people a week flock here to sample the 10 varieties of wine on offer, look longingly at the 3000 wines from around the globe in the Morris family cellar (or that could just be me), and dine in the winery’s signature restaurant Lurleen’s, lovingly named after Terry’s wife.
3. Body and Soul
A relatively new entrant to the south side, Body and Soul Spa Retreat at Mount Cotton uses products derived from Australian wild flowers in its spa treatments among this Aussie bush setting. Visitors are first asked to choose an essential oil based on which smell most resonates with them and which corresponds to either fire, water, earth or air. Retreat owner Gail Keith says the process is about balancing the “whole person” so that “you function in your whole life a lot better”. On this particular day I discover I have a strong water element, described as sensitive, intuitive and creative. And my two-hour treatment ironically includes a Goddess Youth Infusion Facial with collagen and hibiscus flower. A cup of tea brewed from native Australian flowers is offered at the end of the treatment, and my water element and me practically float on to my next appointment, looking 10 years younger, of course.
4. Into the woods
Water dragons skip over the lily ponds playing a salacious game of catch and kiss as I sit (rather enviously I might add) on the deck of my charming cabin among the scribbly gums and iron bark trees at Mt Cotton Retreat and Nature Reserve. While the seclusion is seductive, what I really adore is the fact this property has embraced the environment with both hands. Not only is this retreat certified under the internationally recognised Ecotourism Australia, they have established a 20ha private nature refuge which includes three relatively untouched eco systems and more than 75 bird species. Birds on this property have actually been formally identified and registered in the Australian Bird Atlas and in 2011, this retreat created Boom-Ber-Pee (which means koala in the language of the local Minjerribah people) a private nature reserve which protects endangered regional ecosystems and koala habitat.
5. Sit with yourself
I’d heard that the south side had a Buddhist temple but I was unprepared for just how big and beautiful the Chung Tian Temple at Priestdale actually is. The hum of Buddhist chants blends with the intoxicating sounds of silence on this 90ha bushland property which opened in 1992. The City of Logan is home to 215 nationalities and this is one heartening example of the multiculturalism this part of Brisbane embraces. A Bodhi tree, grown from a cutting of the original plant under which Buddha is said to have found enlightenment, is on this site which hosts a number of buildings and temples. Guests who give advance notice can participate in an ancient tea ceremony by donation and in which you’ll learn about the 5 different types of tea – green, red, oolong, yellow and white. In this intricate ceremony Tea Maker William Zhao will explain that tea must be drunk slowly. Even better, William believes red wine is a good for you as tea. I knew it.
6. There’s a bear in there
Another startling fact about the City of Logan that I learned on the weekend is it is home to more than 900 parks and more than 80 per cent of this city is considered “green”. Which makes it the ideal corridor for wildlife to inhabit. Turns out koalas are also huge supporters of the southside, and a really restful place in which to experience these Aussie icons is at the Daisy Hill Koala Centre. Set within the 435ha Daisy Hill Conservation Park, which, by the way, makes an ideal spot for a picnic, a handful of koalas are housed in this environmental and education centre. Now, call me un-Australian, but I’m one of those people who think koalas are a little dull. They sleep for an inordinate number of hours each day, smell a little, are pretty hairy and when they do wake, are pretty scratchy. A little like my ex-husband. But that all changed when I met Harry, the 8kg male, who sprung to life during my visit and struck this sensational pose.
7. Food, glorious food
Until now, when I thought of dining on Brisbane’s south side, I thought of the huge proliferation of excellent Chinese restaurants which pay homage to some of the first migrants to the area. But this is a region which is thriving in a number of foodie fields. From The Berry Patch at Chambers Flat to the Global Food Village at Woodridge, the NT Fresh Cucumber Farm and Riverview Herbs, there’s a range of dynamic producers doing some great stuff here. Let’s not forget the Beenleigh Rum Distillery for a bit of liquid gold, Carcamos Gourmet Caramel Apples, Poppy’s Chocolate, and last, but not least, the unusually exotic Greenbank Mushrooms – where oysters and shiitake mushrooms are grown from a log, like potted flowers. I was gifted one of these beauties and can’t wait to see what springs from its soil. Day of the Triffods or dinner on Tuesday, who can tell?
The Global Goddess explored the south side and Brisbane’s back yard as a guest of Brisbane Marketing. To discover the south side’s soul and awaken your seven chakras, go to http://www.visitbrisbane.com.au
AN item on the menu catches my eye. For around $282 I can partake in a four-course meal featuring some of the most sought-after Chinese delicacies used in traditional medicine for their health benefits, some of which are said to even cure impotency, followed by a collagen-boosting facial and seawater-infusion massage. And I can even enjoy some Birds’ Nest dishes, which, among other things, are said to increase my libido. Lust being the least of my worries, I eschew the exotic eats and treats and head straight to the spa itself where a Balinese life guard stands poolside and encourages me to run against a series of strong currents and be blissfully blasted by a range of other jets for the next two hours.
I’m at RIMBA Jimbaran Bali, the new 8 hectare resort nestled within the award-winning AYANA’s 77 hectare grounds overlooking Jimbaran Bay. And in typical form, I’m looking for love. Guests at both properties can use all facilities, so I figure two resorts are better than one, and divide my time on the hunt for erotic experiences. While RIMBA’s “Beyond Skin Deep” package at the renowned Ah Yat Chinese restaurant is indeed tempting, I consider instead stopping at AYANA’s L’Atelier Parfums and Creations where for $80 and 45 minutes of my time, I can create my own perfume. Or, in my case, a love potion. Unfortunately, the island is all out of eye of newt, so I head on to my next destination, a cocktail at the world-famous oceanfront bar Rocks. I follow this up with a seafood dinner plucked straight from the ocean before me under a beautiful Southern Cross sky at Kisik. This is feet-in-the-sand romance at its finest, a concept not lost on a fellow female yoga friend and me as we gaze at the stars and ponder our lack of love.
Back at RIMBA, ardent admirers of conservation will adore what this resort has created. Opened last November as a sister property to the luxurious AYANA, RIMBA is named after the Indonesian word for “forest”. This resort, which overlooks the Uluwatu Hills on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, has embraced integrity through its design and razor-sharp environmental principles.
The ark-shaped lobby ends in a giant pond which resembles the shape of a ship which is fitting, as the lobby itself is made of recycled wood from three old fishing boats from Sulawesi and driftwood gathered by hand along a stretch of beach. On the walls you’ll find handmade bricks, in the roof-top bar recycled glass bottles, and in the rooms, furniture crafted from old packing crates. Sustainability is king here, with a rainwater harvesting and water recycling plant plus an on-site greenhouse and organic fruit garden.
When it launched, a traditional “rainstopper” was enlisted to seek the blessings of the Gods for a dry event to ensure the perfect sunset. It worked and the proverbial sun has been shining down on this property ever since which is just as well, given there are six pools alone here.
So with so much good, where is the bad as the title of this piece suggests? Well, I actually agonised over how to start this piece. You see, the day I arrive at RIMBA a Queensland man has been detained upon arrival at Denpasar Airport after trying to enter the plane’s cockpit during a Virgin flight. Even worse, he’s from my hometown of Brisbane and the incident makes headlines around Asia/Pacific. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my fellow countryman. Bali has become a divisive destination in the past decade or so following the Bali Bombings, Schapelle Corby’s detention and recent release, and the Bali 9, who still ponder their fate in Kerobokan Prison. And while these headlines are surely show stoppers, they have one common denominator – they have little to do with the average Balinese.
In his book Bali Raw, Australian expat Malcolm Scott spells out in detail some of the unsavoury aspects of Bali. He talks of emerging crime and culture clashes among gangs from some of Indonesia’s other islands. Add to that recent reports of rubbish on some of this island’s beaches and it would be all too easy to avoid Bali altogether. Don’t. Boycotting Bali due to Bintang bogans is like avoiding the entire Gold Coast because of some of the strife in Surfers Paradise. Or New York because of the World Trade Centre bombings.
And then there’s the Bali. My Bali is one of beauty, peace, culture and coconuts. Of colourful characters, crooked smiles, frangipani flowers and food, glorious food. And you’ll find plenty of these elements at places such as RIMBA which is doing its best to remind the world that Bali is indeed the Island of the Gods.
Bali may not be big – it’s only about 100km wide and long – but it’s huge of heart. You’ll rediscover this heart at Rimba and at her sister AYANA through the people, the properties, and the professionalism. Take another look at one of Australia’s nearest neighbours. You might just fall in love all over again.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Rimba Jimbaran Bali. For more information go to http://www.rimbajimbaran.com
ROMANCING THE REEF
Regular Global Goddess readers will know that she is enamoured with two things: falling in love and Queensland. Combine the two and you’ve got a romantic getaway at the Reef House in Palm Cove. The last time I was in Palm Cove was many moons ago, following a luxury train journey 30 hours from Brisbane to Cairns. The Reef House encapsulates colonial beach-house ambience, personal service and laid-back luxury. The romance package, valid until March 31, 2014 is priced from $549 and includes two nights “colonial beach house” accommodation for two; a bottle of sparkling wine in room on arrival; tropical continental breakfast daily for two on the Reef House Ocean View Deck; Two $25 Day Spa vouchers for use at the Reef House Day Spa; Evening two-course Romantic Dinner for two at Reef House Restaurant; Complimentary “Brigadier’s Punch” in the Brigadier’s Lounge daily at twilight; and Complimentary wi-fi, plus in-house movies with a use of DVD player and DVD library. Phew! Now, I just need to find me a fella. http://www.reefhouse.com.au
CATCH THE LASTEST AT HUKA LODGE
Across the ditch, and at one of her favourite places on the planet – New Zealand – the fine folk at the Huka Lodge are harking back to their past and offering a fun fishing package. Few know it, but the elegant Huka Lodge started out as a simple fishing camp in the 1920s. So it seems only fitting that those who book for a two-night stay, for a minimum of five Junior Lodge Suites (on a double-occupancy basis) will receive a complimentary trout fishing adventure for the entire party on Lake Taupo. Guests will be treated to a two-hour charter on board a private launch with expert fishing guides from Chris Jolly Outdoors. The package is available until December 14, 2013. While The Global Goddess enjoys a spot of fishing (she’s caught her fair share of Mangrove Jacks up in North Queensland), these days it’s more likely to be men she’s hoping to take the bait. Still, fresh trout caught from Lake Taupo wouldn’t be half bad either. http://www.hukalodge.co.nz
In case you needed further convincing, Fiji has just rolled out a new campaign in which it portrays this idyllic island nation as the happiest place on earth. Using the slogan: “Fiji – where happiness finds you”, the campaign showcases the Mamanuca and Yasawa island groups, Denarau, Nadi, the highlands and the Coral Coast on Viti Levu and Tavenui on the north. In terms of the happiest place on earth, there’s no argument here from The Global Goddess who travelled to Fiji in May. I was fortunate to stay at The Outrigger, Fiji and happiness practically chased me everywhere, particularly when my private butler arrived with canapés and champagne. Oh, and if you get the chance, try the Pure Fiji skincare product range. It’s truly sublime. http://www.fiji.travel.com and http://www.outriggerfiji.com
SPRING INTO SPRING WITH THIS SPA TREATMENT
In winter, The Global Goddess had the good fortune of undergoing the Bamboo Bliss spa treatment at the Hilton, Surfers Paradise. One of her lucky followers (and if you’re not a follower, why on earth not?) also won the same treatment in one of The Global Goddess’ regular competitions. Now, the Hilton is back with a special spring spa treatment. Available at both the Melbourne and Surfers Paradise eforea: spa at Hilton, this 90-minute treatment uses internationally-acclaimed Kerstin Florian products. The $155 treatment includes an organic wildflower foot soak and full body massage with warm rose porphyry stones to clear energy pathways. To book, go to http://www.eforeaspa.com.au/special-offers.html
THE GONGS ARE RINGING AT GAIA
In August, The Global Goddess experienced the peace and serenity that is Gaia Retreat & Spa in the Byron Bay Hinterland. One of her lucky readers even won a two-night package there valued at $1595. It seems the Goddess is not the only one who thinks this is one special place owned by Olivia Newton-John. Gaia has been honoured at Australia’s Leading Boutique Hotel and Australia’s Leading Spa Resort at the World Travel Awards in Dubai. Gaia Director Gregg Cave also received the International Hotel & Property Award “Asia-Pacific Spa Hotel” for his design work at the International Design and Architecture Awards in London last week. For those who haven’t visited the retreat, here’s Five Golden Gaia Guidelines by which to enhance your life:
1. Eat well and drink plenty of water
2. Take quiet moments throughout the day and have plenty of sleep at night
3. Moderation and a little abstinence can go a long way in creating the new you
4. Exercise daily and moving the body is the key to optimum health
5. Do your best and be thankful and grateful for what you have already achieved.
THE year was 1978 and my eight-year-old self was sitting in the old Coolangatta cinema on seats strung with scratchy hession bags, about to experience my first ever movie on the Big Screen. Grease was the word and from the opening scene I was so hooked on the movies, and on Olivia Newton-John, I’d forgotten I was slouching on an old bag of potatoes.
Thirty-five years later, and around an hour down the road, I am about to become a personal guest of Olivia at her Gaia Retreat, in the Byron Bay hinterland. Well, she doesn’t actually know I exist, but I can’t help but feel we are old friends. I drive south through towns so deliciously named you just want to wrap your mouth around them like a huge, buttery, salty tub of movie popcorn. I meander around Mooball, bump along Billinudgel, tumble through Tumbulgum, before nestling in Newrybar, just behind which sits Gaia, named after the spirit of Mother Earth.
Things are looking pretty good. The fact Olivia isn’t actually at the retreat doesn’t really matter, as I can feel her everywhere. I just can. She’s in the little personal touches such as the magic metal box of Australian Tea Tonic in your room where you can sip on brews such as ginger, lemongrass, Echinacea and white tea. There’s also lemon myrtle oil for your burner, and plush, chocolate bathrobes perfect for lounging on your day bed, or when you alight from your bath replete with rose petals and a cushion for your head. Yes, Olivia has thought of everything and I feel like she has personally plumped my pillows.
You expect rainforest music on your CD player, but Olivia isn’t tacky (well, there was that little head band and leg warmer stage in the 80s but who wasn’t guilty of that?) Instead you’ll find So Fresh Hits of Autumn 2013 and you’re flat out finding a self-help book in the extensive library, which instead houses a wide range of contemporary reads and DVDS. What I do discover is Olivia’s “Livwise easy recipes for a healthy, happy life book.” If I’m going to look like Olivia, I have some work to do. And Gaia is the perfect place to start.
Indulge in breakfast such as scrambled eggs in fresh herbs with smoked salmon; a lunch of chickpea tagine with cauliflower squash with yoghurt dill on the side; and snapper for dinner with a poached pear and chocolate dessert. And there’s even an extensive beer and wine list, including Gaia’s own organic wine range.
In between, simply have some fun – there’s nothing hardcore about this place – as General Manager Gregg Cave says “all you have to do is surrender.”
Each evening, guests are handed their personal schedule card, outlining any treatments they may have booked in the day spa, or just general activities throughout the day. You can do as little or as much as you want.
Yoga instructor Danielle speaks of “pushing the edge” – the point between finding your point of stretch and indulging the ego and pushing yourself too hard, resulting in pain. “The longest relationship we have in this life is with ourselves, so learn to love yourself,” she says. Nicollete, an “esoteric practitioner” extolls the benefits of becoming your “inner most” and operating from your “inner heart.” In her treatments, she looks at the root causes of symptoms in the body and what buried emotional issues may have triggered these.
“What we need to develop is a much stronger sense of self love in our body. Most of us don’t realise the importance of that,” she says.
“Often we put the needs of others before our own. You have more information to make more choices in your life and do things that is more loving for you.”
There’s a wide range of treatments in the Gaia Day Spa, but The Global Goddess recommends the 4.5 hour Gaia Goddess/Gaia Man signature experience. Billed as a journey of “complete surrender” among other things you’ll undergo a body polish, cocooning body masque, warm oil scalp massage and full body massage.
There’s also an interesting esoteric breast massage for women and an esoteric shoulder massage for men, designed to tap into self love and if you so desire, a milk bath somewhere on the property. (The Global Goddess did fantastise about laying in a field naked in a pool of milk like Cleopatra waiting for her Julius Caesar but realised she’d have better luck finding a Caesar salad on this trip).
Drawing on her Aussie roots, Olivia has built a retreat that is empathetic to the 10 hectares of manicured Australian bushland on which it stands, replete with its own fresh herb garden, pool, sauna, spa bath and gym. Walk to the Samira Lookout at the top of the hill and you are at the highest point in the Byron Bay Shire, from which you can scan the Lennox Headlands and Pacific Ocean beyond. Here there’s also a Buddha and labyrinth for reflection and meditative thoughts.
You’ll find plenty of day beds dotted around the property, as well as hammocks strung between giant eucalypts from which to honour the rising and setting suns.
During my four-day journey I meet Olivia’s personal jeweller, who designs jewels for the retreat, and her comedienne friend Sandy Gandhi, who performed at Olivia’s 60th birthday a few years ago, and who is waiting for fellow comedienne Ruby Wax to finish her spa treatment. Ruby walks into the dining room, but there’s still no sign of Olivia and it doesn’t really matter. By the time I leave, I’m learning to love myself and it may have been 35 years, but Olivia I still love you…I honestly love you.
ENTER A COMPETITION TO BECOME YOUR OWN GAIA GODDESS…
As a special treat for Global Goddess readers, and courtesy of the Gaia Retreat and Spa, The Global Goddess is offering readers the chance to win an amazing prize valued at $1585.
This lovely prize package includes two nights accommodation staying in the Layana Room double/twin; all gourmet meals and snacks; spa gift on arrival; daily yoga and all retreat activities; and use of all the facilities.
To enter, simply go to:
and sign up to receive Gaia Retreat newsletters. The competition runs for two weeks, and will close at 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on Monday, September 9, 2013. Gaia will draw the lucky winner, who will be announced on The Global Goddess blog on Tuesday, September 10, 2013.
I AM experiencing pure and utter unadulterated bliss. Or to be more precise, Bamboo Bliss, the new massage treatment designed specifically for winter at the Hilton Surfers Paradise. On this particular day I am the guinea pig for this steamy spa sensation. Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking… gee that Goddess is a humanitarian. What will she do next, donate a kidney to medical research?
This blissful journey in the eforea: spa at Hilton begins wearing a fluffy robe, on a day bed, in the relaxation room sipping an Indigenous-inspired Yulu tea of wild rosella, lemon, aniseed, wild lime and lemon myrtle leaves. It’s red, warm and like a little bit of the Dreamtime has exploded on your taste buds. Take your time, there’s no rush here.
I am then led into a treatment room and where the bliss begins in earnest. My therapist and new best friend Lauren rubs my back with a Vitaman Sea Salt Scrub consisting of sea salt, aloe vera and wattle seed. You’re on the Gold Coast remember, so picture a shirtless surfer scrubbing you down with sea salt in the ocean, or, if you like, a topless sun baking woman. What interests me here is that the Vitaman range, as its name suggests, was originally designed for blokes, but women liked it so much, it inspired this new treatment. Lauren then places a hot towel on my back and wraps me in a cocoon, a little like your mum used to when you ran out of the surf on a cold day.
Warm bamboo is then rolled gently up my legs, not unlike a stick of melting butter. On a crisp day outside, it’s simply scrumptious and I feel like I’m a juicy roast duck being prepared for dinner. The back massage follows with a Vitaman Relaxing Oil of almond, orange, jojoba and lavender. Lauren massages my arms and gently stretches them, a little like a Thai massage before moving to the front of the body. A reflexology-style foot massage is a highlight here.
On this particular day, Lauren throws in a vigorous head scrub as well. Remember those days when you got home from the beach and mum shampooed all the salt out of your hair like her life depended on it and you thought “geez, mum, that’s a bit rough?”. Well, this is nothing like that. It’s firm and relaxing and like all those thoughts you can’t slow down in everyday life are being massaged from your mind.
The eforea: spa at Hilton is the first purpose-built spa of its kind at a Hilton property in Australia. It boasts seven private treatment rooms including a Vichy Shower and two double rooms for couples – in case you happen to have a shirtless surfer or a topless sun baker of your own.
The word “eforea” describes “a place where people want to escape from the pace of modern life”. Want to escape even further? Book yourself a room at the Hilton Surfers Paradise, which sits right in the heart of this tourist strip. This property offers 250 one, two and three-bedroom Hilton Residences and 169 Hilton guest rooms and suites. There’s a signature restaurant Salt grill by Luke Mangan, the FIX Bar with cocktails created by a team of expert “mixologists, and The Food Store delicatessen and wine bar.
But why should The Global Goddess have all the fun? I really value my readers and, in conjunction with the Hilton Surfers Paradise, I am thrilled to offer a prize for one loyal follower. The prize, worth $155, includes a 90-minute Bamboo Bliss treatment at the eforea: spa at Hilton, Surfers Paradise. Yes, one of you will be able to indulge in the journey I have described above.
To enter, you must be a follower (if you’re not, simply click on the follow button in the bottom right hand corner) AND you must leave a comment telling me what your idea of “bliss” is. It’s THAT simple! The competition opens today, Monday, May 27 and closes on Monday, June 3. The winner with be announced on this blog early next week. Transport to the Hilton Surfers Paradise is not included (but you can borrow my broomstick). The prize itself is available to be taken up until November 22, 2013, so if you are planning a trip to the Gold Coast between now and then, please enter.
IT’S 4am and already 28 degrees when I check into the dodgiest airport hotel I have ever encountered. I’m in Kuala Lumpur enroute to Saigon and my hotel is a cross between an Australian outback motor inn and a detention centre. In a bid to make the place sound more exciting, they’ve named the cell blocks “terminals”. “You’re in Terminal 4,” the receptionist tells me upon check-in. I have about 13 hours here to kill and tell myself things will look brighter when the sun rises.
Later that morning I stumble across Susan from Sabah, and her massage parlour. Susan speaks in a gravelly voice, sports a cackly laugh, and wears a long red silk outfit that looks like pajamas. Her masseuse guides me into the room and asks me whether I’d like a sauna. I’m so tired from my overnight flight from the Gold Coast I am unsure whether it is a question or an invite. At this point I should also mention I have been reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I decline and lay on the table. My masseuse smooths out a few knots in my back and then rolls me over, picks both my legs, and holds them together like one would to tie chicken drumsticks before baking. I am buck naked and my legs and buttocks are being held high in the air. Me and my modesty are about to profusely protest when I realise it’s Ramadan. The poor lady hasn’t eaten all day and IS probably dreaming about a chicken drumstick. No funny business here. I make a mental note to stop reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
The next night I arrive in Saigon and head out for a Vietnamese omelette stuffed full of prawns, pork and spices. I take my first bite when an old lady who looks at least 100 walks into the restaurant carrying a pile of books as high as her head. She points to Fifty Shades of Grey. “You want to read?” she asks, a twinkle in her eye. “I’m already reading it,” I confess as she punches her first in the air. “Boom, Boom!” she laughs and disappears into the night.
I head on to the beach resort town of Nha Trang. I’ve asked for a Vietnamese massage, unsure of what it exactly entails. My masseuse slathers me in oil and starts to rub my naked body. Then, without warning she slaps me, hard on the buttocks. I think it must be a mistake as she resumes her gentle rhythmic rubbing. Whack! She slaps me again. This continues for the next hour. Is every woman in south-east Asia reading THAT book, I wonder as I lay on the torture table. Have I entered the red room of pain? I finish my bondage session and head for a late-night skinny dip in my private plunge pool overlooking the South China Sea. The lights of the fishing boats out of the horizon wink back at me.
The next day, out on a boat tour where the sea lice bite as much as Christian Grey himself forcing me out of the water with welts on my thighs, I ask Trong, my tour guide, about how to find a man in Vietnam.
“You put on some perfume, and some nice makeup on your face, then we march into the bar and look for a hot, young, horny boy. And then you have a happy ending,” he says, matter-of-factly.
“If they are tall and skinny, then they have big dong.”
I’m unsure whether by dong, Trong means the local Vietnamese currency or something else but there are no happy endings in Nha Trang and I head on to the mountainside of Dalat which is believed to be the City of Love.
Here, on two separate occasions, I’m stalked by guys on motorbikes. “I have been following you all day,” they say without any irony. I wave them off and wander into a local restaurant for some Pho. Twenty sets of chopsticks stop chattering and 20 pairs of eyes fix firmly on me as I slurp on a bowl of chicken soup. For the princely sum of $4.50 I am their dinner and their show.
Back in Saigon, a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl befriends me in a museum. Her name is Thanh. She runs away and returns with a small doll as a gift. My mind frantically scans my handbag for a return present. All I can think of is a half eaten packet of chewing gum and a box of tampons. Where, oh, where are those skanky little clip-on koalas when you need them?
I apologise to Thanh that I don’t have a gift for her, and thank her profusely for hers.
“My aunt thinks you are beautiful,” she says before skipping off.
I stand there and smile to myself. Just my luck to pick up an ageing Vietnamese woman who may or may not have read Fifty Shades of Grey.