The red-carpet detox

From tai chi to tahini balls, Shelly Horton finds that celebrities know how to relax.

Healthy getaways are becoming the holiday du jour for Australian celebrities. After the stars finish a movie or a gruelling TV filming schedule, they find it's a quick way to recharge and relax.

Not to mention the detoxing that's required after too much champagne at launch parties. Channel Seven's Sara Groen has been to Chiva-Som in Thailand, Channel Nine's Kerri-Anne Kennerley goes to The Golden Door and Today Show's Richard Wilkins heads to Olivia Newton-John's retreat Gaia.

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland hosts many celebrities looking to unwind and recharge: Peter Morrissey, Hugh Jackman, his wife Deborra-Lee Furness, and Charlotte Dawson all swear by the healing powers of the spa.

So if they're doing it, as a celebrity writer I won't be far behind. I convinced my mum to come along (funnily enough, it didn't take much arm twisting) to try the villas at Gwinganna and spend four days experiencing "A Feast of Nutrition". This course encourages you to be positive about eating for your health, understand why you comfort-eat and the body's hormonal response to certain foods. It's not, as my mother was concerned, "a boot camp for vegans".

It's the opposite. There are great seminars such as "Making your liver your friend", "Moods and foods" and "Constructing balanced meals". There are even cooking classes so you can see the theory come to life. Ah, laughing and learning, it's the way of the future.

Mum and I checked into the magnificent villa. It has two bedrooms with an adjoining lounge room and a joint balcony with an infinity plunge pool.

Mum didn't even want to join the others at the retreat and would have happily stayed in the villa reading books for four days but I dragged her out of bed at 5.45am for tai chi classes. Ha! Daughter's revenge.

The course is run by the nutrition manager, Caroline Scott, who is more bubbly than the champagne I normally quaff. She suggests making small sustainable changes to your diet rather than a radical makeover that you'll never stick to. Simple things like making vegetables the major part of your diet with protein and good carbohydrates in smaller portions, supporting your liver by drinking lots of water, paying attention to the glycaemic index, increasing your fibre intake and, when possible, going organic.

Mum and I learnt how to grow sprouts in the fridge, how to make almond milk and, most importantly, how to make the most delicious tahini balls. We opted for the gentle exercise options and found our stress levels plummeted and, surprisingly, so did our weight.

Four days is never enough when it comes to Gwinganna; it felt like we'd had the entree but not the main. But even four days made me feel healthier and happier than if I'd gone to a hotel and done shots at the bar to de-stress. It seems those celebs are on to something.

The writer was a guest of Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat. Feast of Nutrition four-night stay, from $1660, sharing, in the heritage accommodation to $3360 for a villa. See