It was an eye-opener both to what health retreats are actually like (well, good ones) and to just how burnt out I'd become thanks to years of ignoring my physical and mental health on a day-to-day basis. But let's start from the beginning, shall we?
Entering Eden Health Retreat is exactly like what entering actual Eden might feel like. After winding through the Gold Coast Hinterland roads, you roll into lush green paddocks surrounded by bush and hills. It's picturesque and then some.
Immediately, we lost phone reception. Yep, you won't have phone reception or internet for your stay - a challenge if you're constantly on yours, like I am.
We stayed in the Premier Suite, situated with an outlook over the grounds.
All of the suites are immaculately designed - comfortable beds, clean and modern interiors and a delightful deep bath with views. There are the Deluxe options which are a little higher up the hill with views of the rainforest, or the Premier which were more recently built. Honestly, all of the rooms are stunning.
Once settled, we re-grouped for dinner. The meals are all meticulously planned to be full of nutrition. You eat five times a day - three meals with two breaks for morning and afternoon tea. The meals are smaller than I'm used to, which is probably because I eat WAY too much. I can honestly say though that I never had less digestion issues than at Eden. My bloating was gone, I felt energised and fresh each day. I slept well. It's amazing what a difference eating habits can make.
Eden is gluten-free, and for the most part dairy and meat-free. Eden uses a small amount of locally sourced seafood and organic white meats, and some organic dairy. Predominantly, you'll be eating plant-based proteins, seeds and nuts to drive energy. And it works.
One challenge is definitely no alcohol - especially in winter. I pined for a mulled wine as a nightcap.
Each day you'll be given a timetable, but everything is optional - one of the wonderful elements about Eden is that you can design your own wellness week, rather than being forced into activities. If you're someone who just wants to curl up in the sun with a good book by the creek, you can do that all day if you like.
For me, I wanted a mix of down-time and activity. I participated in high-intensity fitness like boxing and circuit classes, as well as meditative practices like yoga. There are adventure activities like a flying fox, and bushwalks you can either do solo or with a guide.
If you're into spa life, there are treatments available on site at an extra cost. I recommend the specialty and healing therapies - I tried Kinesiology, which was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. On the more chill side of things, you can't go past Eden Indulgence, which features a body wrap, body scrub and facial.
Best of all, there's a heated pool, spa, sauna and steam room. I can tell you now I spent a LOT of time there.
Eden is quite a social health retreat, which I wasn't expecting. I guess my concept of health retreats was that they would be very isolating and quite confronting for anyone used to a lot of social activity. But whether only lovely people attend this health retreat or the relaxing surrounds just turn everyone into saints, one of the highlights of Eden was the people I met.
It's almost like school camp but for adults, in the best way - those friendships forged due to proximity, where you meet people from various walks of life that you wouldn't have met otherwise. By the end of the week, we were all huddled around the outdoor fire, talking candidly about how the week retreat had impacted us. It sounds crazy (and a bit 9 Perfect Strangers) but it was so wholesome and comforting.
I can tell you now I re-toxed quickly when I got home. It's really hard to maintain a no-alcohol life, okay! But I've maintained some practices - I consistently add nuts and seeds to my meals for added nourishment. One major change has been limiting my phone use by switching off all notifications. I now check it a few times a day as opposed to every fifteen minutes, and it's done wonders for my mental health and stress levels.
So, should you visit Eden? I wouldn't say it's a holiday. It's a confronting experience in many ways, with the down-time and lack of reception meaning a lot more introspectiveness. It's relaxing and rejuvenating, absolutely, but it's also challenging. That being said, you'll leave feeling so fresh and focused. I really assessed what I needed to eliminate from my life (hectic phone use, bad eating habits) and what I valued. It's rare we do that in this busy age, and to be able to do that in such a beautiful, peaceful place is a real blessing.
Eden stays run for 3 nights or 6 nights (I recommend the six). 3 nights in a Deluxe Single will cost you $2,340, which includes all meals and activities. 6 nights is $3,900. Find out more here.