There is something frightening about a “health” retreat. One imagines a bunch of alpha women in lycra competing in a spin class, or a room full of distressed divorcees weeping into their quinoa.
But there is probably an even greater fear - living without simple pleasures such as coffee, wine, a sleep-in and dessert. But do not let any of that put you off.
If you can scrape together the money, the investment in a few days at somewhere like Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat is well worth it.
If you are like most women, you are suffering from what Dr Libby Weaver coined “Rushing Women’s Syndrome”, which means you have acquired the education and job opportunities of your father but retained the responsibilities of your mother.
In short, you are exhausted, stressed, sleep deprived, anxious and at least a few kilos overweight.
If this is you, and even if it is not and you just want some time out, the modern-day lifestyle retreat is worth the time and the money. It is no accident that Gwinganna is the retreat of choice for many household names because of its attention to detail, the authenticity of the staff and the sophistication of the lectures and treatments.
It specialises in tackling all modern afflictions that many busy women don’t even know they are suffering from.
A common aliment which is seems to be at epidemic proportions is stress. Gwinganna recommends a multi-pronged approach such as a diet without stimulants and classes in meditation and breathing.
It provides a daily schedule of activities from “yin” (slower, softer) to “yang” (energetic, fat burning) in the morning, while the afternoon is free for “dreamtime”. This is retreat talk for sleeping, reading or a massage.
To tackle insomnia, staff provide world-class lectures on the link between what goes on in our mind and a myriad of physical manifestations, including explained weight gain.
But be prepared for plenty of discussion about your digestion and bowel movements. The staff who seem to glide around the estate with sparkling eyes and rock-hard biceps share a universal interest in all things related to your bowel.
If the group activities are not sufficient or your speed, then there is an army of therapists on hand for counselling, nutrition advice, homeopathy, naturopathy and dozens of luxury treatments to nourish the body and the mind. Some of the more indulgent activities come at a price, mind you.
Throughout your stay you are gently encouraged to do something outside your comfort zone, and even the most reluctant end up trying something new. Something like a “Lomi Lomi”, which is essentially an 80-minute Hawaiian massage which drenches the body in oils as a therapists’ hands effortlessly sweep over the entirety of your naked body.
It actually doesn't matter if you can spend two days or two weeks, most people who leave the sanctuary feeling rejuvenated from the pampering. And while the facility is suitable for couples, mothers and daughters, it is particularly designed for singles who need time out.
It is also all about choices, so you can opt in and out as you feel like it. There are very few rules, even though Gwinganna encourages you to take advantage of what is on offer.
So, yes, it may be the most expensive holiday you ever have, but it could also be the most effective.