Let’s get physical -
or not at Gaia Retreat & Spa

Celebrity spa owner Olivia Newton-John talks exclusively to The SPA Traveller about her resort Down Under…

Singer and actress Olivia Newton-John has co-owned the hidden gem of Gaia Retreat & Spa near Byron Bay in Australia for the past five years: “It’s like bare foot meets Armani, an elegant yet unpretentious retreat where you find solace in the simple things, while enjoying the good things in life. For me, Gaia provides a spiritual environment to relax and rejuvenate,” says Olivia.

Gaia, which means 'spirit of mother earth', is nestled among green valleys and undulating hills in the subtropical hinterland on the east coast of Australia and is the perfect place to renew, refresh, and truly restore.

Guests from around the world can enjoy a classy boutique retreat which offers a salt water pool, sauna and spa plus a floodlit tennis court. Morning yoga is daily and there is also Tai Chi, clay sculpture, pilates, get fit circuit and body balance.

Star of Grease and more recently the TV hit Glee, Olivia Newton-John talks exclusively to Janet Brice, of The SPA Traveller, about her passion for Gaia Retreat & Spa…

Q: What inspired you to get involved in the spa industry and co-own Gaia Retreat & Spa?

A: It happened by circumstance! It wasn’t planned! My friend and co-owner Gregg Cave and I found the property, fell in love with it, and literally dreamed it into existence!

Olivia and Gregg at Gaia

Q: Do you have any favourite treatments and why do these work for you?

A: I love ALL the treatments at Gaia but I particularly love the hot stone massage as it is so healing and peaceful and all our practitioners are so healing in all the treatments.


Q: Why do you think spas have become so popular during the last 10 years?

A: I think people have become more aware of the importance of health, rest and relaxation, and they are wanting and needing a beautiful place to do this in - like Gaia!


Q: Why did you choose the location of Byron Bay for your spa?

A: I Have a farm in the area and happen to believe that it is the most beautiful part of Australia- if not the world!

Olivia meditating at the Gaia Retreat

Q: What spa products do you use and why do you find them beneficial?

A: We use Natural Australian product ranges in the Gaia Day Spa -Sodahsi and Li'tya for our indigenous treatments in our Sacred Garden.

I use Amazon Herb's Lluvia which is my husband’s skincare line for my face - it is all natural and from the rainforest and the best skincare I have ever used! I also use our own range of Gaia Retreat & Spa products for my bathroom - organic shampoos and body butter.


Q: You must be very proud to have won so many spa awards in only five years – what is so special about the Gaia Retreat?

A: Gaia is the most peaceful, beautiful, retreat in the world. It has the best organic food from our own garden, the kindest and best practitioners in the day spa. The staff are all helpful and nurturing and the atmosphere is of healing and replenishing - I call it barefoot Armani! It is the first place I go to renew my body, mind and spirit!


Q: Could you tell us more about the Amazon Herb Company?

A: My husband John Easterling is a treasure hunter - he started Amazon Herb 20 years ago - he had been working in the Amazon for many years with artifacts and blow guns and textiles.

Then he discovered that by taking herbal teas given to him by the indigenous Indians it helped with a health issue and the true treasure of the rainforest was in the plants!

There are 100,000 species of plants in the Amazon, most of which have never been studied for their medicinal properties, but constitute many of the pharmaceuticals we know today.

John has studied some of these herbs and incorporated them into healing blends and they are all I take nowadays and I have never felt better. The products are pure, amazing and natural and all I use for my health.


Q: What are your top three herbs and why are they good for us?

A: Camu is the most wonderful plant John has brought to the market place! It has the highest Vitamin C of any plant on the planet and is full of amino acids studied for anti-aging activities and brain function and balancing.

We use them in the Lluvia skin careline in our Camu C serum, in our delicious organic drink, Zamu, and our newest - and my favourite never do without product – Camu Gold.

Sangre de drago is a favourite of mine that I never go anywhere without. It is the sap of a tree that grows in the Amazon and has an incredible healing ability. It heals skin wounds, helps eliminate viruses, and I use it for teeth or mouth issues as a gargle.

We also use it for our dogs if they ever injure themselves.

Jatoba is in our Treasure Tea - it has anti-yeast and anti-fungal qualities and is the bark of a tree from the rainforest that survives and thrives within the moldy, yeasty and fungal world that it lives amongst!!


Q: Do you think your holistic approach to health helps you look younger than your 62 years?

A: I think so! Something is working! But not only look younger - more importantly feel younger!!

Gaia sacred garden

Q: Have you always tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle even during the height of your fame when life must have been hectic?

A: Yes - I have always been conscious of my health, healthy eating and exercise.


Q: Did you turn to natural remedies during your fight with breast cancer?

A: Yes - absolutely John, who was my friend back then, actually gave me Amazon Herbs then and I was using his herbs, using homeopathy, meditating, having regular acupuncture and eating organically and naturally at that time. I know it helped me incredibly.


Q: What are your top three super foods and do you take supplements?

A: Green vegetables-- I LOVE! So, broccoli, kale, asparagus - leafy greens of any kind are a daily part of my diet.

Protein in the form of organic eggs, fish or chicken and berries - blue and raspberries being favourites. Camu is my favourite super fruit!! MY HUGE vitamin c boost.

I also take a good multivitamin, Vitamin D, B6 complex, CQ10. I get my omega’s from Amazon Herbs Aquazon - and my minerals from the herbs that grow in the nutritious Amazon soil.


Q: Do you take any spa essentials with you when you are jet-setting round the world on long-haul flights?

A: Yes-my Lluvia skin care set.


Q: Did you enjoy your roles in Glee and the new movie Score: A Hockey Musical? Do you think it’s about time there is a revival in musicals as they have the feel-good factor?

A: Yes I had a lot of fun doing both those shows. I think the time has already arrived! Musicals are back!


Q: Do you have any plans to develop the spa in 2011?

A: We are always building and expanding and we will have some great exciting plans for 2011! We want Gaia Retreat & Spa to continue to reach, touch and change people’s lives with heart.

The SPA Traveller’s guide to Gaia Retreat & Spa

• There are more than 45 treatments available on the spa menu.

• Gaia boasts a team of 35 therapists who can tailor treatments to your specific needs.

• Head chef Todd Cameron only cooks with the organic produce from the spa’s own organic garden and if you want to try his dishes at home pick up his cookbook called Grace.

• Signature Treatments include: Deep Sea Salt and Minerals Polish (60 minutes.) A detoxifying treatment using energy of the sea, combined with salts and minerals to deeply cleanse and exfoliate the whole body.

• You can try Esoteric Breast Massage - believed to be the only Spa in the world offering this treatment

• Start your day with yoga in the The new Zama Yoga Room, which is poised at the top of Samira Lookout, (the highest point in the shire) and has stunning easterly ocean views.

• The property was originally built in the late 70’s as one of the first health farms to be built in Australia.

• Gaia Retreat & Spa won the prestigious Conde Nast 2008 Readers’ Spa Awards category of Favourite Overseas Hotel Spa- Australasia & South Pacific.


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