Tried And Tested: Golden Door Health Retreat
It’s not often in life you get to sit back, relax and let worries go (well, not often in my life anyway) and that is precisely why a stay at the Golden Door Health Retreat Elysia was an absolute treat for me. Not only was I to be pampered in the spa and fed like a queen but I was also encouraged to stop. Yes, just stop. Stop thinking, stop worrying, stop relying on caffeine (this one scared me), stop craving, stop working. Hmmm, so that last one was a challenge. It is also suggested that guests refrain from the use of their technology – a digital detox of sorts. Although, in the confines of your villa, it was perfectly fine to contact loved ones via mobile phone if you choose.
I arrived for my two-night stay on a Friday around midday and, not wanting to deter from my usual routine that week, it meant I was tired, sore and a tad hungover. Just in time for lunch, I made my way to the dining room where I was served an amazing prawn salad (and I immediately regretted the bacon and cheese roll I’d consumed on my two-hour drive to Pokolbin from Sydney).
A meet and greet ensued followed by a tour of the grounds and then a yoga class. By this point, 4pm on a Friday afternoon, I was either ready for wine time or bed. In the break before dinner I took an opportunity to retreat back to my gorgeous villa for quick lie down on the couch while catching up on the text messages I’d missed from my work colleagues out at a farewell lunch. It looked fun but… snoooooooze, I was wrecked.
I woke up just in time for Friday night drinks (the non-alcoholic variety) before dinner. Fruity concoctions awaited the guests so we sipped and mingled before the night’s meal was served. Another delicious dish was served, a first course of pumpkin soup followed by ocean trout with roma tomato and caper sauce and avocado mash.
A seminar followed for those interested and I was one of the first to put my hand up when I heard the topic – Sleep. In an hour-long workshop, we learned some methods of meditation and how to get ourselves of to sleep by using the breath and extending our inhales and exhales. Clearly there’s a lot more to it but I certainly needed to hit the sack straight after that.
The next morning I had every intention of heading to the 6am tai chi class. That is until my alarm went off at 5:45am. Snooze. Extended snooze. Alarm off. I rose at 8:45am, just in time for my deep tissue massage, followed by a facial in the Golden Door Day Spa. Needless to say, I blissed out!
Lunch on Saturday was a take on the traditional chicken caesar salad Golden Door-style and, of course, was scrumptious. But it was after lunch that I started to feel a little unwell. An ache had started to gently thump away at my temples and a feeling of exhaustion had washed over me – even though all I had done all day was get pampered. Weird, right? Well, apparently not when you are suffering the effects of caffeine withdrawal. As a medium-heavy coffee drinker (3-4 espressos a day), going without for more than 24 hours had made parts of my body mutiny. Resistance was futile but, with no caffeine to be found, I retreated to my villa – more precisely, the world’s most comfortable king bed – to sleep off my ‘coming down’.
I awoke just in time for dinner, chatted with my fellow guests at the dinner table and devoured the evening’s three-course meal that was completed with my favourite food of all-time, cheesecake (Golden Door-style once again). Yum! But the mallet in my head was banging away and a friendly staff member smuggled me some green tea and suggested I take it easy that night. So back to my room I went, where the beautiful turn-down service complete with the burning of amazing essential oils, prompted me to make use of the glorious bathtub. Now, I don’t have a bathtub in my tiny one-bedroom Sydney apartment so this was an absolute treat! I slipped into the tub, green tea in hand and iPhone for photographic evidence for friends and family that I was actually relaxing, and I had found my fave part of my Golden Door experience.
Refreshed and relaxed, headache subsiding, I got into bed ready for a night of restful sleep before packing up and heading back to the rat race the following morning, one thing came to mind… Two days was too short!
On Sunday morning, as I said my goodbyes to the wonderful staff and the lovely guests that I had met during my stay, I wished I had made more of my time there although, as one of the girls behind the desk had said to me, “Your experience was just what you needed”. Whether that be partaking in the sports, hikes, yoga, tai chi, spa treatements or like me, sleeping and eating well, I’m better for it.
And I’ve even cut down my coffee intake!