A five-day wellness package at Elements of Byron delivers a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
In the mystical pre-dawn light, before the sun yawns and stretches its way into a new day, I am also yawning and stretching before a sunrise yoga class. I watch, mesmerised, as the beach and the more distant Byron Lighthouse shapeshift into view, the sea mist adding to the ethereal beauty. The sun does its version of a downward-facing dog over the horizon, its golden rays shining laser-like through the clouds in one of nature’s classic works of art. I could have stayed watching the morning show but the instructor arrives, yoga mats are handed out and my first foray into yoga begins.
Yoga and I are not friends and certainly not yoga that requires me to get up before the sun. However, considering I have booked myself a five-night wellness package at Elements of Byron Resort that encourages guests to relax, rebalance and revive, I embrace the opportunity – sunrise or not.
I am a complete beginner, and as the instructor calls out the positions I have no idea what they mean. ‘Cat cow, mountain, tree, warrior, child’ – huh? I look at how everyone else is doing it and try and replicate it, not very successfully. My tree is more like a power pole with a wonky splinter but, hey, I am good at the corpse (savasana) pose.
Not having been to Elements of Byron before, it was a very pleasant surprise to discover this luxurious and meandering beachside oasis north of the busy Byron CBD. While doing the COVID-safe check-in at the Main Pavilion, my eyes are darting around like a meerkat, taking in the firepit, the lagoon pool, the bar, the restaurant and is that a spa I see just around the corner? Affirmative.
We are given a map and directions to villa 177, a two-bedroom deluxe villa down near the Adult Pool. The resort has 202 architecturally designed free-standing villas dotted around the spacious and spectacular grounds that include rainforests, wetlands and dunes, as well as some that sit on stilts by the lagoon in mirrored perfection. The villas are a sleek industrial feel on the exteriors, but inside, they are stunning.
Walking in to our villa, past a bush turkey scrabbling in the garden, we love the contemporary feel, with a full gourmet kitchen on the right as well as a hideaway laundry behind cupboard doors. On the left side is a lounge room and off that, a separate screened outdoor dining area facing the estuarine ponds behind. The gas heater ensures you can stay cosy while listening to the sounds of the forest.
Back inside and up the hallway, there is a little desk nook for any work, and this houses the IPad that controls lights tv, menus, restaurant bookings, weather and so on. At the end of the hallway on the right sits one bedroom with a lovely ensuite bathroom, and to the left, there is a private bathhouse with a sexy freestanding bath and an outside wall that opens to the air through shutters. It means you can sit in the bath and look out to the greenery. Next to that is another bedroom with a large ensuite. Both bedrooms and the lounge room have TVs, and on both beds, as part of the wellness package, awaits a collection of beautiful bath bombs made locally by Byron Bay Bath Bombs. I love that they use eco-friendly and recyclable packaging, are cruelty-free, Australian made and owned.
Immersing in the Elements
While we have a car, we are glad to get our steps up by walking around the resort. After all, we are here enjoying a wellness package and that means exercising. At least a little. There is a lot to look at as we stroll around, including a beautiful lit up fig tree, little sculptures positioned here and there, a magnificent tree that gives beautiful views over the lagoon to the villas – especially at sunset – and then there is the giant chess set on the way to the Azure Bar & Grill restaurant, where we enjoy long leisurely breakfasts, some lunches and several dinners.
We stroll through the forest on the Rainforest Trail, one of several trails at the resort, en route to our morning yoga at the Heart of the Bay, right by beautiful Belongil Beach. This is where you come to laze in a deck chair by the beach, have a coffee from the gorgeous little Botanica coffee caravan, or head up the steps to the elevated grassy knoll for yoga, sunset, or to sit on the little timber deck and read.
Apart from sunrise yoga, the wellness package included workout sessions run by Peachy Fit. I missed one of the outdoor workout sessions and did line up for the aqua workout the next day. The aqua workout is in the stunning Adult Pool, a heated pool with a swim-up bar, Mexican taco diner, private cabanas and swings. While we are the oldest by a few decades, we thoroughly enjoy working with the bubbly instructor, using cut-off noodles as weights under the water, and stepping, lunging and running on command. It is really good fun and afterwards, we get to just laze in one of the cabanas with a book and potentially, a pina colada from the bar.
It is important to note that the wellness program here is not strict. It is not meant to put you on a starvation diet and send you home a few kilos lighter. It is completely up to you whether you participate or not, and how many wines you have with lunch, or dinner, or in between! Then, of course, there are the cocktails by the firepit. Guilty as charged.
As for the Resort’s Osprey Spa, I did book a massage there. The spa is spectacular, beautifully designed and with an ambience that makes you feel relaxed as soon as you walk in. I choose a 90-minute aromatherapy massage and I have to say the masseuse, Laurie, is fantastic. I struggle to stay awake and stumble out in a misty haze of bliss.
We’ll go riding on the horses
I was one of those horse-mad girls, and even had my own horse for years, but sadly, my riding experiences are few and far between these days. So, seeing that Elements has its own horse riding operation and that you can ride ON THE BEACH, makes me very happy. We wander up the road to Zephyr Horses, fill out the forms, hand over our phones, a little forlornly I might add, and before long, I am meeting my ride – Fireball. Hoping he doesn’t live up to his name, I am on his back and we are setting off on our Forest to Beach ride in no time. We ride through stunning paperbark forests, and while I sort of wish I had my phone to take photos of said forest, I find I am enjoying the scenery and simply soaking it all in without that distraction. Our guide asks if we want to have a trot, so trot we do, and fortunately, my body remembers how to post to the trot, up, down, up, down, up down, in a relatively neat way. Then we head out onto the beach, and my heart just soars. I haven’t ridden on the sand in a long, long time, and it is quite cathartic. We take the horses into the waves and Fireball is on his best behaviour, going where I tell him to and putting up with my frequent happy patting of his neck.
Do we want to go for a canter, our guide asks. YES, is the answer, and off we go, cantering up the sand, smiles as wide as Sydney Heads on all of our faces. The two guides make sure they capture us on their phones during the beach ride and even Fireball smiles for the camera.
We head back into the forest, riding back along the pretty track until we arrive back at the base all too soon. The whole experience is first class, and as someone who has done a lot of horse rides, the calibre of the horses, and the whole experience, is the best I have seen. The horses are really well trained, and the guides know their stuff.
There was so much more to experience at Elements, tennis, the outdoor chess, other trails through the forest, the outdoor gym. We could have used the free tickets we received as part of the Wellness Package to catch the solar train into town for some quintessential Byron shopping or dining or people watching. We could have joined the Instagramming throng at The Farm or gone Hemsworth hunting at Wategos, but we didn’t. We chose to stay in our Elements bubble, loving the comfort of our villa, the birdsong, the forest trails, the pools.
And yes, I even warmed up to the sunrise yoga.
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