Overall enjoyable, but service not up to par in many areas and questionable value for a high end experience.
For a $3000 weekend it did not start well. My husband and I arrived onsite at 5.04pm on a Friday to find the reception closed. We went to what we thought was the shop (general store written on the window) we had been instructed to find, in the event of reception being closed. We were asked to select preferences for spa treatments. This is difficult to do when you have not yet seen a list of what is on offer. After asking for a spa menu and deciding, our first preference was not available.....sit down and decide again.
We wondered outside thinking that is a very unusual checkin system when a work experience girl found us looking lost and took us to the shop (a different building) where we were left standing with two clipboards to fill in. We then had to carry our own luggage to our room where we were given a very scant, though pleasant introduction to our room. We were told that we had use of an iPod with the room, but we were never issued, or offered, one.
Walking into the clubhouse for our orientation we felt it a little like an Amway convention. I found the orientation session a little too long for the amount of information delivered and it lacked some key information, such as a map of the property (which also was not in our room). There was an introduction to a guest speaker (nutritionist) who, by all reports, delivered some great practical advise in sessions to those who attended.
Dinner initiated us to the communal experience. There is no opportunity for a couple to sit alone as all tables seat eight and for the first night we were told where to sit. So I felt more like I was at boarding school rather than a $1500/night getaway.
I enjoy cooking and have studied post graduate nutrition at university, so put a high priority on food. The food we ate throughout the weekend was healthy, fresh and enjoyable. It was of the quality I produce at home, with a few pleasant new experiences thrown it (notably the hot fresh macaroons). The introduction of some flexibility around meal times would make for an improved guest experience and perhaps allow the staff to be a little less frantic during the set meal times. Because, for example, everybody (approx 60 people) is expected to eat lunch within a one hour time slot, plates were not cleared between courses and there is a bit of get it out and get it over with feel about the experience. Even if they allowed people to have lunch over a two hour period this might create a nicer atmosphere.
We enjoyed all the activities we took part in - stretching, weights, boxing, bush walking, qigong, free dance and spent some nice, relaxed time alone in the pool whilst most other people were attending a workshop.
The star of the show for us was John the botanist - he is just great! A couple of hours with him walking around the property learning about herbs was fabulous.
Much of our contact with 'staff' over the weekend was with work experience personnel rather than paid employees, leaving us a bit perplexed in regard to the cost of the weekend versus the outlay borne by the business in regard to staff. I could go any number of places and spend $3000 on accommodation, food, massages and some activities over a couple of days and be provided with service that is much more professional. I suppose that doesn't go along with the spirit of this retreat though, so to enjoy my time there I just had to go with the flow.
We found it more than a little ironic that there are high tension power lines running through a health retreat (considering their established carcinogenic associations), but beyond that the property feels nice to be in - lots of birds, wallabies, organic gardens and native vegetation.
The condition of the various buildings dotted around does vary quite a bit, but the spa is beautifully planned. It is clearly a cash cow and a great deal of money would have been invested to ensure its presentation. The treatments we received were all very well delivered and the logistics of what happened when was all discretely arranges with little fuss - thankfully.
We had to carry our own luggage out of the room again to a buggy about 100m away.
A few days after we departed the spa menu was emailed to us in an email telling us how much our impending arrival at Gwinganna was welcome...clearly there are a few logistics that this resort could improve on.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In a world of busy, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat stands apart as the destination to help you rest and revive and inspires you to live a healthier life. Whether you stay for a spa weekend over two nights or the popular detox program over seven days, you will connect with supportive professionals who will teach you resilience in the modern world.Australia's award winning lifestyle retreat is surrounded by ocean and valley views in the Gold Coast hinterland, with exceptional facilities including the stunning Spa Sanctuary, one of the largest spas in the Southern Hemisphere. Enjoy delicious organic cuisine, an extensive range of activities and stylish accommodation including luxury villas. Gwinganna.....for the rest of your life. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat Hotel Tallebudgera
- Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat Australia/Gold Coast, Queensland