The desire to escape everyday life often begins as a gut feeling. Your gut may know you need to take a holiday long before you do.
To keep everyone happy, a vacation should be a reward for your mind, body and your hard-working gut microbes. That means your destination should please your most significant other – the trillions of microbial cells that co-exist and work with your human cells to support your health and immunity. You could even call this symbiotic community of microbes, your ‘other half’. And if they are happy, then chances are you will be, too.
So just as you wouldn’t dream of taking your human partner away on a holiday where they hate the food, it also pays to choose a destination that will please your gut microbes as much as you.
Here’s where to take your microbes on vacation…
Eden Health Retreat, Currumbin Valley, Queensland
Known as Camp Eden before its recent upmarket makeover, Eden sits in the lush, rainforest of Currumbin Valley just up the hill from Coolangatta airport. There’s no TV, wifi or mobile reception. But there is morning Qigong, a saltwater pool, fitness classes and massage treatments. The naturopath-designed organic meals use fresh, seasonal wholefood ingredients sourced from local producers. Eden also offers vegetarian or vegan options and caters for gluten, dairy, egg and nuts allergies – but it doesn’t provide individualised food menus. They do, however, provide plenty of wise advice to help you stay on track when you get home.
Split Apple Retreat, Nelson, New Zealand
This luxury lodge and wellness spa lies in the Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand’s South Island, not far from the 120 million-year-old rock it’s named after. The art and antique furniture are a feast for the senses while the food – created by a doctor who specialises in nutrition and a chef who enjoys culinary artistry – will also nourish you on many levels. Then there’s Japanese tea and calligraphy, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, massage and sea kayaking. Or you can just drink in the ocean views from the saltwater infinity pool.
Samadhi Retreat, Macedon Spa Region, Victoria, Australia
This is a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ style luxury experience located in Victoria’s famous Daylesford and Macedon Spa Region. It’s a short drive from the healing mineral waters of Hepburn Springs – which rise out of a 450 million-year-old volcanic basin – and conveniently just an hour and a half from Melbourne. Go for The Essential Retreat or choose from six retreat programs with names such as Energise, Nurture, Inner Peace, Wholeness, Transformation and Illuminate. Recharge, regenerate, detox or gently cleanse, it’s up to you. The food is organic, locally-sourced and bespoke if you have special dietary requirements. To soothe your body, soul and digestive system, there’s also pranic breathing, Qigong, art therapy, massage, meditation and of course, hot natural mineral springs.
Resolution Retreats, Tauranga, New Zealand
If you want to set some new wellness goals, this women-only, weight loss and health retreat has plenty of credible, onsite health professionals to get you started. There are daily educational sessions and healthy cooking classes plus nutritionist-designed menus. The infinity pool boasts breathtaking mountain views plus naturally-heated, mineral-rich water from a nearby geothermal spring. And it’s only a two and a half hour drive from Auckland, near the picturesque Bay of Plenty.
Living Valley Springs, Queensland
Located just 30 minutes from Noosa Heads on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast – but a world away from life as you know it – this not-for-profit (and some would say hardcore) health retreat is famous for its seven-day Power Cleanse. It begins with two-days of organic (or pesticide-free depending on availability) meals followed by three days of liquid cleansing with protein shakes, vegetable juices and broths, then another two-days of delicious food (which can be designed to suit your needs – whether that be vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, keto, paleo or specific intolerances). You can even stay for 14 or 21 days – or even longer – if you need. Throughout the process, you’re supported by daily steam baths, body treatments, bushwalks, fitness classes, optional counselling and nightly health lectures on self-care, lifestyle and longevity.
Any other gut-loving retreats we should check out? Let us know!
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