noosa retreat relax beach ocean

Oh, that luxe feeling!

I’m writing this road test from my balcony in the inner west of Sydney. I can see trees, but they’re at war with the tall buildings overshadowing them, hungry for sunlight. I can hear birds chirping, but a bus accelerating up the hill is drowning out their sweet song. It’s hot, but to get to the beach I’d have to drive for 30 minutes and spend the same amount of time looking for a park. My weekend in Noosa feels like light years away but, thankfully, I returned with a toolkit of techniques for when this view becomes too much.

Kelly Carthy, the founder and director of Luxe Escapes Noosa, picked me up from Maroochydore airport Saturday morning. She greeted me with a warm herbal tea — “a calming blend”, she told me — because my “Luxe escape starts right now”. As I sipped my tea, we made our way through the hills of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and I took in the natural beauty surrounding me.

We arrived at The Spirit House, an award-winning Thai restaurant just off the highway. As we strolled around the stunning gardens, the smell of citronella met my nostrils and I noticed statues hidden in the green foliage, covered in moss and ageing imperfectly with nature. I breathed the greenery in; yes, this was a weekend I needed. As if she could read my mind, Kelly suggested I sit next to the bamboo shoots for a present-moment meditation. Afterwards, she explained that a short meditation before eating helped to prepare the body for food and settle the mind.

I was glad I’d made some space in my stomach — an exquisite six-course seafood degustation awaited. I’d never tasted seafood so fresh and delicious, but it was the dessert that stole the show: a chilli-glazed peanut and chocolate fudge with raspberry sorbet that literally melted in my mouth.

As our conversation flowed, I discovered that Kelly, an experienced personal trainer and Pilates and yoga teacher, founded Luxe Escapes Noosa in March 2016. The concept is that, once you arrive at Noosa airport, everything is taken care of and personalised to suit you. Catering to everyone from couples to corporates to tourists, Luxe offers weekend escapes — which I was doing — or one-day experiences such as paddle boarding, aerobatic flights or a romantic dusk dinner. For it to be a Luxe escape or experience, Kelly said, it required a six-star rating and had to leave you with a feeling of being completely present.

As we walked around the coastline to a secret beach, we were treated to whales, dolphins, birds, turtles and crabs, then flowed through a gentle yoga sequences inches away from the ocean.

My accommodation for the two nights was at On the Beach in Noosa, which was quite literally on the beach. With the ocean out the front, a pool below me and a private spa on the decking above, I was staying in true luxury. But my favourite part? The sound of waves gently rumbling around me.

A massage therapist arrived soon after I did and, as I lay on the massage table listening to the waves crashing outside, I felt myself relax deeper and deeper as she released the knots in my shoulders. I felt completely in my body, observing the signals my five senses were sending to my mind. Usually, we experience life the other way around with the mind doing all the talking and the body sluggishly following. Then and there, I made a promise to myself: listen first to my body and then my head. I sealed this intention in the meditation that followed, led by Kelly, which left me floating freely, unbound and filled with spaciousness.

Dinner was a delicious prawn and tomato salad with locally grown berries for dessert. With a king-size bed awaiting me, I turned in, excited for another day without thinking or worrying about anything; another day of just “being”.

The next morning, Kelly led me through a Pilates workout and shared her tips for shoulder stability. We finished with another meditation and some beautiful aromatherapy. Not that I needed any more calming — complete relaxation was now my waking state.

Our next adventure was to Noosa’s national park via farmers’ markets filled with fresh, local produce. As we walked around the coastline to a secret beach, we were treated to whales, dolphins, birds, turtles and crabs, then flowed through a gentle yoga sequences inches away from the ocean.

That night, after a yoga sunset session on the rooftop, it was time for dinner: a paperbark-smoked salmon with locally made bone broth, zucchini, snap peas, fennel, lemongrass, ginger and dill. The dish, prepared and delivered by Luxe, was delicious and deeply nourishing.

Afterwards, I soaked in the spa upstairs. A full moon splashed light across the night sky above me, the Milky Way shimmering brightly. This, along with the sound of the waves crashing against the shore and the warmth of the bath offered a moment of deep reverence for myself, Mother Nature and this extraordinary experience.

Just after sunrise the next day, Kelly led me through a stand-up paddle-boarding yoga class on Noosa River. I was wobbly at first, unsure of my space and stability on the board, but after some core-strength exercises I started to gain confidence. I did a few sun salutations, forward bends, downward dogs, a twist and then … splash … I fell off. Laughing, I climbed back on and settled into savasana, discovering the magic of floating weightlessly on the water, surrounded by nature, the sun warming my skin. A beautiful moment of presence washed over me in another reminder that it’s the little things that bring the most joy and more often than not they can be found in nature. It was then time to head to the airport and say goodbye to Kelly, a newfound friend.

I’m back in the city now and, instead of waves, I fall asleep to cars zooming past. But, whenever I’m feeling heavy with responsibility, shaded by buildings or sitting in traffic, I visualise my Luxe escape. I lived luxuriously for a few days, but it taught me how easy it is to return to my natural state of being. I learnt it’s not always about having the best of the best; rather, it’s about the breath and giving yourself time to be present.

  • The writer was a guest of Luxe Escapes Noosa. Luxe Escapes cost from AU$1095 to AU$2900; Luxe Experiences prices vary. 

Kate Duncan

Kate Duncan

Kate Duncan is the Editor of WellBeing and WILD. She loves surfing, creating raw desserts, flowing through nourishing yoga sequences and spending time with her new pooch, Maribou.

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