Daily yoga, spa treatments, lush rainforest surrounds – and did we mention cocktails are on the menu? If you’re after refreshing a stress-free summer reboot, this is it.
Set among 45-acres of serene rainforest within Byron Bay’s hinterland region, the Byron at Byron Resort and Spa – a 30-minute drive from Ballina airport – offers everything stressed-out city types need for serious relaxation and rejuvenation.
Here there are no abrupt 6am wake-up calls and forced wellness activities.
You can do as much (and as little) as you wish. This is blissing out, Byron style.
I arrive early at The Byron at Byron on a sunny Monday morning. Here for a four-night wellness escape, I’m already eyeing off a glorious day-bed outside by the pool as the friendly Byron at Byron staff check me in to my villa, a short stroll from the resort’s main reception and a stone’s throw from neighbouring Tallow Beach.
Perfectly secluded within the resort’s serene surrounds, my eco-friendly suite is one of 92 rooms scattered throughout the boutique resort, which this year underwent a $2.1 million upgrade. More like a luxe treehouse-style apartment, the self-contained studio’s calming blue-white interiors, curated by Brisbane-based designer Penny Campbell, echo The Byron’s relaxed laidback beachy vibe. Other elegant design touches include a plush king-sized bed, the most enormous free-standing spa bath, and a shower that (discretely) looks out to one of two private verandahs overlooking the rainforest. Plus there’s a mini kitchen complete with a coffee machine, stove, fridge, dishwasher, and washer-dryer – you could quite comfortably live in this space, and the thought of moving in crosses my mind several times during the week.
Time to inspect the rest of the resort. I strap on the running shoes and hit the two-kilometer wooden boardwalk that wraps its way through the tranquil rainforest within the resort. Set among towering Bangalow palms, native eucalypts and melaluca trees, the meditation walk takes you past serene lotus gardens and lily ponds, and along the way you’ll notice several signs featuring inspiring words of wisdom, adding to the peaceful atmosphere. I discover a number of wooden seats along the track – one overlooking Tallow Lake – where you can stop, relax and quietly soak up the natural surrounds. Don’t be surprised if you meet a bouncing wallaby or curious echidna wandering through the rainforest, home to a variety of native animals and birdlife. Tuning in to the calming rustle of the palms and the distinctive call of whip birds, I pass one other guest along my way. You’ll feel like you’re in your own secluded tropical haven, a million miles away from the rest of the world. Except the heart of Byron Bay is a mere a five-minute drive away.
All thoughts drift back to the glistening 25-meter infinity pool. If your idea of heaven involves relaxing in the sunshine on an enormous cushion-strewn daybed with waiter service for an afternoon, then you’ll find a spot here with your name on it. You can order from the lunch menu, with light snacks and healthy options available including refreshing salads and freshly-made green smoothies, delivered directly to your poolside perch. For something more decadent, go for a chilled glass of pinos gris with lunch (you’re on holiday after all). When you’ve had enough sun, wander up to the wooden deck terrace overlooking the pool and enjoy an Aperol Spritz at happy hour (from 4.30-6pm most days) – the perfect end to a magical Byron day.
Dinner that evening is a welcoming intro to The Byron’s paddock-to-plate style menu. Headed up by resident chef Gavin Hughes, who’s been with the resort since it opened over 11 years ago, the restaurant serves up fuss-free yet impressive five-star cuisine in a relaxed indoor-outdoor setting, largely using locally-sourced ingredients, with market-fresh specials offered daily. It’s a warm evening so I opt for a table outside on the verandah beneath the twinkling fairy lights. The Byron burrata and tomato salad is the perfect starter, and line-caught barramundi with roasted cauliflower and cumin, is equally sublime. More top menu picks include the steak, perfectly cooked with hand-cut chips and salad. For dessert, the chocolate fondant with wattle seed ice cream and popping candy is a taste sensation. And an extensive wine and cocktail list is also on offer (do try the blood orange margarita). For those who prefer to dine in their eco-chic suite, a full room service menu is also available.
A visit to the Byron Bay Farmers’ Market is a must-do while you’re in town. Held every Thursday morning from 7-11am, chef Gavin Hughes accompanies guests to the market where he stocks up on fresh produce for that evening’s Market Dinner (the menu changes each week depending on ingredients available, and you’ll need to book). There you can meet and buy direct from the local growers and regional producers, selling everything from cheeses, bread, preserves, nut butters, delicious coffee and homemade pastries. The fruit and vegetables are so fresh, often picked hours earlier. Tip: get there early, take a carry-home bag and arrive hungry.
Of course it wouldn’t be a wellness getaway without a relaxing treatment (or two) and The Byron’s award-winning spa is not to be missed. Note: I discover Chris Hemsworth’s wife and Byron local Elsa Pataky is a regular. Offering a decadent range of facials, massages and body therapies, guests are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy the spa and steam room prior to their unwinding time. On day two I check in for a full-body remedial massage, which was heavenly. My therapist immediately pinpoints the kinks in my shoulders and neck, masterfully melting each knotted muscle with firm yet intuitive pressure. It’s the ultimate stress-buster. Later that week after a morning yoga class by the pool (available daily to all guests), I opt for a skin-boosting facial complete with soothing foot and scalp-tingling massage. After a dreamy start to the day, I head back to my room practically floating, and curl up with a book on my private verandah. A delightful power nap quickly follows. Bliss.
You could easily while away your time happily wandering from yoga, to the breakfast buffet, on to the beach, followed by a massage and a delicious snooze on those glorious daybeds during your stay at The Byron at Byron. However if you muster the energy, jump on a bike – the resort offers them for hire – and cycle the breezy 20-minute trip in to Byron (a free shuttle bus also operates daily). There you can cruise the local shops, cafes and experience Byron’s vibrant, slightly hipster foodie scene.
Bayleaf Cafe is practically a Byron institution. Score a spot out the front and order a turmeric latte and try their signatures such as smashed avocado and feta on sourdough, the Dukkah-spiked eggs or the famous brekky greens bowl, featuring kale, shredded broccoli, avocado and served with pulled pork or poached eggs.
The Roadhouse (located closer towards The Byron) is another winner, serving slow-regional produce such as slow-cooked lamb shoulder stew, gluten free fish tacos and raw desserts. They also do amazing organic coffee and make their own kombucha turmeric and ginger tea. Enjoy lunch by day or swing by for cocktails in the evening.
Sparrow is the locals’ pick for a takeaway coffee in town. The guys open from 6am and offer delicious pastries from the acclaimed Harvest cafe in Newrybar. For something on the go, Byron’s famous raw bar Naked Treaties serve smoothies, organic snacks and salads plus their signature sugar-free bliss balls and desserts.
The revamped Byron Beach Café, located right on Clarke’s Beach, is the perfect setting for one of the best Insta-worthy dining experiences in town. Wander up from the beach and dine on oysters, grilled prawns or the fish of the day with a glass of bubbly. Or the tuck shop out front does tasty takeaway breakfast and lunch options.
Fish Mongers (located behind Byron’s iconic Beach Hotel) cook up fresh, healthy, gourmet fish and chips, offering take away or casual dine-in service (with BYO).
I order a grilled fish and salad box and stroll down to enjoy on Byron’s Main beach.
After a quick lunch I jump back on the bike and cycle up the hill towards Byron’s famous Lighthouse. There you can park your bike and take the track on foot up to Cape Byron, swinging via by Watego’s beach for a quick dip or to watch the sunset.
Looking out over the ocean I spot two humpback whales casually breaching off the coastline. Just another magic day in Byron.
The hardest part of the trip is checking out on Friday morning. I haven’t slept this well in months. My skin is glowing, and the tight, stressed knots in my neck – gone.
If you’re after a refreshing end-of-year – or new-year – summer break to relax, indulge and unwind, then a trip to The Byron at Byron ticks all the boxes.
Bonus: you may even spot a Hemsworth during your blissful stay.
The writer was a guest of The Byron at Byron.
The Byron at Byron Mind Body Soul package starts from $2,248, inclusive of most meals and select treatments. For more information visit The Byron at Byron