A Retreat to Spa and Sea
Natalie takes some time for herself with a solo spa break in Port Douglas and a bucket list trip to the Great Barrier Reef.
After a tough few months (seriously, there’s nothing like a bad break-up to make you feel like the world is against you), I decided I needed some time out. My 30th birthday was just around the corner, and I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore or what I really wanted. Todd and I had been planning a big trip to Bali and even though that obviously wasn’t happening I couldn’t stop thinking about how good the sun, sea, and some time in the spa would be for my soul.
But where to go? Todd had always pushed for top surfing destinations, but now the choice was all mine. With my bucket list dreams of exploring the Great Barrier Reef in mind, I started to do some late night Googling – and that’s when fate kicked in. A quick search revealed Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort & Spa as one of the best luxury resorts in northern Queensland and they were offering Red Hot Rooms deals for Accor Plus members! With the rates almost halved, this dream destination was suddenly in my price range and after a glass (or two) of wine I made my booking.
A week in Paradise
The next day, the Dutch courage had worn off and I was feeling more than a little nervous. Could holidaying solo in paradise really be as empowering as I’d hoped? I didn’t have long to find out. A week later I arrived at the resort and immediately knew I had made the right decision. Idyllic lagoon pool? Check. Palm trees? Check. Palatial apartment with its own private plunge pool? Check, check, check!! As I slipped into my bikini and assumed the position on a lounger next to the shimmering water, I said a silent thank you to myself and that bottle of wine for bringing me here.
All those getaway fantasies I’d had on the greyest Sydney days after the break-up? That was my week in Port Douglas. I revelled in the blissful solitude of my personal sanctuary. I watched my skin turn bronze after hours spent sunbathing by the pool. I finally finished my book, and figured out that meditation is a lot easier when you’re surrounded by birdsong and not city sirens. And whenever all that felt too much like hard work, my four poster bed beckoned for an afternoon siesta. Holiday goals, achieved.
I didn’t spend all my time in the apartment. I celebrated my birthday early with a Soothing Ritual at the spa and after two massages, a scalp treatment and a facial, there was zero tension left in my body. Lazy lunches and dinners on the restaurant terrace became the cornerstones of my days. Sometimes I chatted with the other guests, sometimes my book kept me company, and sometimes I simply savoured the pool view and the food in front of me. Imagine! Chargrilled local prawns, truffle gnocchi, white chocolate and raspberry brûlée… It’s a miracle I can still fit in my swimsuit.
Exploring the Great Barrier Reef
I’d set aside the last day of the trip for my Great Barrier Reef adventure. The concierge arranged it all for me – all I had to do was be at Port Douglas Marina in time to board the luxury catamaran. Soon we were flying over the ocean, the graceful curve of the sail above us and the lush mountains of Daintree National Park visible in a ribbon of emerald green along the coastline. With the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair, I didn’t think life could get better…until a pod of dolphins started riding the bow waves!
Our day at the cays was pure magic. We floated over velvet-lipped giant clams in a glass bottom boat, hung out with an inquisitive sea turtle on a snorkeling tour and even found Nemo! I met some awesome people, too, and as we sat down to lunch on the deck I was filled with hope for the future. If I could have the time of my life on a trip that I’d planned all by myself, there’s no telling what else I’m capable of. Bring on the big three-oh!!