Pamper me please
17.08.2012 StephHope

Recently I packed my overnight bag for a weekend away to the Golden Door Health Retreat Elysia in the NSW Hunter Valley. It was partly for work (we’re giving away a girls’ weekend to the Golden Door for four people in our Spring 2012 issue and I wanted to check it out for myself) but also for pleasure.

Here’s how it works: the Golden Door isn’t your typical hen’s weekend destination. For one thing, alcohol and caffeine are banned (so no boozy cocktails, sorry!), but it is a great spot if you and your mum, partner or bridal party are looking to escape from wedding planning stress and take a couple of days (or a week) to get fit and healthy in the process.

Surrounded by rolling hills and vines, you can choose from a range of daily exercise classes for all fitness levels, attend evening seminars on topics like getting more sleep or dealing with stress (very wedding apt, me thinks!), plus make use of the fantastic on-site facilities that include two pools, tennis courts, a fully equipped gym and the piece de resistance, the spa, for some pampering treatments! Oh, and all your meals are cooked for you, and they’re very healthy!

Incidentally, I was 22 weeks pregnant when I visited, so the idea of some low-intensity exercise, healthy cuisine and a dose of spa therapy had extra appeal for me. On arrival, I joined the short orientation tour, where the on-site program coordinator showed us around the complex and talked us through the meal times and activities on offer. Among the deep water running, yoga and Tai-Chi options, there was also the chance to tour of the nearby Tamburlaine Organic Winery and learn about “healthy” wine consumption, but given my pregnant state, I sadly had to give it a miss. Dinner was a refreshing sushi entrée followed by a vegie rosti, and then it was time for an early night.

The next morning, I was up with the sparrows for the daily guided walk at 7am (I couldn’t quite make the 6.30am Tai Chi session), which took us around the neighbouring Cypress Lakes golf course. Next up, it was breakfast followed by a stretch class, then I gave myself a couple of hours’ break to read some mags in the sunshine of my villa’s balcony before heading to a fitball class to discover that I actually have zero balance (I blame the pregnancy).

After lunch (mediterrean risotto, yum yum), I high-tailed it to the spa for a relaxing massage followed by a pedi-spa treatment including foot soak, scrub and massage finished off with some bright coral polish. A quick nap before dinner and a relaxing soak in the tub afterwards and I was feeling pretty perky and pleased with myself!

That’s the beauty of the Golden Door – you can do as little or as much as you like. I chatted to a number of guests during my stay, including three friends and mums who’d left the kids at home to treat themselves to a relaxing weekend, along with a group of seven women who had been at the retreat all week to undergo a complete detox – they raved about their clear skin and how energised they felt.

By the end of the weekend, I felt a little sore from all the exercise I’d crammed into two days, but also really well rested and enthused about making some healthy changes to my lifestyle. While I’d already cut out caffeine and alcohol when I first fell pregnant, I realised I was still relying quite heavily on processed foods and sugar, and vowed to try and cut back.

I highly recommend it to any brides out there needing a bit of a de-stress. Enter our competition, which runs until October 14, 2012, and you might just get to try it for yourself – see the mag for full details!


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