Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Health retreat set for big makeover

Andrew MacDonald. Photo / Supplied
Andrew MacDonald. Photo / Supplied

The Gold Coast health resort sector is getting a shot in the arm with the upgrading of a five-star property.

Andrew MacDonald is the new general manager of The Golden Door Health Retreat Queensland, the bush resort an hour south of Brisbane, a property popular with New Zealanders.

Resort owners Cyprus Lakes Group are planning to upgrade some areas at the property, MacDonald says.

"They're raising capital and the plan is to invest in Willow Vale around the entrance area, boutique and reception, with a general upgrade around the property, looking to spend in excess of A$2 million [$2.6 million]," he said.

MacDonald acknowledges a handful of guests arrive with some illusions, expecting a flash resort with luxurious five-star service. But this retreat is far more rustic. Think outward bound in the Marlborough Sounds for the idyllic setting and communal-style dining and lecture facilities, but with two-level standalone pole houses, perched on the side of bush-clad gullies as guest accommodation.

The five stars at Golden Door relate more to the dedicated staff, MacDonald believes, rather than the buildings.

His brother, Duncan MacDonald, is one of the longest-serving staff members, and has run the gymnasium and physical education programme and lectured guests on nutrition and metabolism for nearly two decades.

High achievers are attracted to the resort.

"There's a greater awareness in the corporate world that work-life balance is important," Andrew MacDonald says.

"Many people have to perform at very high levels. But they also need to look after themselves, emotionally and physically so their success in their careers is realised.

"Corporate burnout is high these days. We're continually connected, through all types of IT and the lines of work and home have become blurred.

"So it's important to take people out of their environment because it helps them to realise how important the emotional, spiritual and physical well being is."

Around three-quarters of guests are women at the retreat whose maximum capacity is about 50 guests.

A smoking cessation success rate of about 80 per cent is claimed and guests get a bowel-cleansing detoxification diet served by chef David Hunter, an Australian expert in low-fat cooking who also lectures on the values of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead is shown, depicting Australian Joe Cross's voyage across the United States, consuming only fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days.

About 45 per cent of guests who book cite personal recommendation from a friend or acquaintance and MacDonald says it is these flattering statistics he wants to build to make the retreat even more attractive.

Anne Gibson stayed as a guest of the Queensland retreat.

- NZ Herald

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