I had heard so much about Byron Bay, especially its famous resorts, spas, and wellness retreats. But every time I encounter people telling me about them, I usually fall into much sighing, eyes glazing over, and wistfulness. Just by imagining the place gives me a peaceful aura. I knew I had to experience it firsthand.
The gods must have heard my prayers when suddenly, I was given a rough assignment of heading up there. It seemed like they need my writing skills about their spas and wellness retreats for Tourism Australia’s Explore supplement.
Without batting an eyeball, I rolled my sleeves up and took one for the team…
A 4-day assignment
It was actually part of a 4-day assignment and was composed of several exciting activities.
It began with a flight into Sydney, followed by a scenic drive north to Port Stephens for some thrilling outdoor adventures. Along the way, I stop at Oakvale Wildlife Park to meet a few Aussie natives (the koalas and kangaroos).
The trip continued with parasailing over Nelson Bay, quad biking on the dunes, and discovering the Sygna Shipwreck on the second day.
A return to Sydney was made possible by a reliable GPS system. But the signs to the airport were very obvious, with big aeroplanes flying above me. I flew up to Ballina, NSW the next morning where I spent the remaining days of the trip.
How to Go to Byron Bay
The closest airport to Byron Bay is the tiny airport of Ballina which is a town in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. From there, it’s only a 30-minute drive by car.
If Ballina Airport is not an option, another alternative is to fly into the Gold Coast or Brisbane Airport. However, this option requires a longer drive of approximately two hours or more.
I took the former route and with a car and a map the size of a rug, I followed directions to Gaia Retreat. Gaia Retreat is co-owned by Olivia Newton-John. I had a relaxing stopover there, with the details on my next blog.
Finally, I hit the road again and head straight to Byron at Byron Resort & Spa for a full 10-minute drive.
Byron Bay wellness retreat
Byron Bay is known as a bit of a hippy hangout. On cruising through town, you can find your usual combi vans and dreadlocked crowd.
Some nice seaside bars have popped up with lots of touristy shops as well as a few art galleries and boutiques. It’s a popular surf beach too, and the wind had all the kite-surfers out in force when I went was there.
I went back to Byron at Byron Resort & Spa (which is rebranded now as Crystalbrook Byron). With 90 different species of birds flitting around the native bush, it was beautiful.
Due to its very soothing ambiance, I decided to go all out and made it my home for 2 nights! Confession: I had a holiday. Justification: it was Sunday, and I’d driven about 700 kms since Thursday…
The Crystalbrook Byron, formerly Byron at Byron, is a haven. It sets in 18 hectares and with only 90 rooms spread throughout the bush, you hardly see anyone.
Each suite has 2 balconies, so a coffee with a book or a glass of wine pre-dinner is magic. I ordered room service the night I arrived and can honestly say the recommended fish and chips were awesome!
Divine Spa Treatments
The Spa at Byron has just been awarded Best Spa by Pevonia, and I concur. Mind you guys, the spa treatments are divine. I also tried out their signature 2-hour Spa Bliss, which started with an hour-long remedial massage, whereupon my body was diagnosed as being in stress!
I didn’t know at first, but it might explain the neck and shoulder tensions.
The Vichy Shower
The icing on top was the Vichy Shower. This treatment uses Pevonia’s award-winning products, ensuring that you’ll feel pampered and rejuvenated.
Lying face down on a table under a hose with 7 shower heads running along it, Angela massaged a salt scrub all over me with ylang-ylang, lavender, tangerine and marine, and mineral salts.
It smelt divine, but the washing off was even better. The hoses are cleverly designed to massage your muscles. Warm water relaxes the muscles, and you get a massage at the same time. Sublime. (You also get a little g-string.)
For the full comprehensive guide to Aussie, check out Australia.com.