There’s no thinking required at the Byron at Byron. Or underwear…
“Excuse me?” A lady in her 60s emerges from the shower stall, tentatively holding a disposable pair of underwear out to me. “Does this go this way? Or is that way? I just can’t seem to work it out.”
I understand why she’s having trouble. The underwear in question is similar to a pair of G-strings, but with a second crotch shape in place of where the string-side should be. She fumbles with the curious piece of cloth, turning it inside-out and back-to-front, while I falter to find a way to explain without having to touch the pair she’s already tried on.
“Oh, I’ve worked it out!” she says with relief on par with my own. She heads back into the shower stall victorious while I put the rest of my belongings away in my locker and get dressed in the Geisha-style robe and thongs I was given on arrival.
I’m at the Byron at Byron Spa getting ready for the most intriguing treatment on the menu: Cultural Hawaiian Massage – The Royal Ka Huna. I was told to arrive early to take advantage of the hot spa and steam room, so that’s where I’ve been killing time for the past hour.
Honestly, all I’ve been doing is killing time ever since I arrived at the Byron at Byron Resort & Spa three days ago. And in a blissful way: I’ve had a private yoga class on the deck and a foot massage at the spa, daily group yoga classes, read by the infinity pool, ate delicious farm-to-plate dishes in the restaurant and joined the farmers’ market tour. The best part is that it’s all included in my Mind Body Soul package, so I haven’t had to think too hard about anything. Now that I’m out of my swimsuit and in the throwaway-briefs, I’m looking forward to switching my mind off further during this treatment.
Kita comes to collect me from the spa’s lounge where I’ve been sipping tea as I’ve waited. She’s all very Byron Bay with sandy-coloured hair and a dark tan, and asks me if I’ve ever had a Lomi Lomi massage before. I haven’t. She’s wide-eyed with excitement for me.
The dimly-lit treatment room is similar to any other, except that there are no covers on the leather massage table. The skin-to-leather contact is all part of the experience, Kita tells me, before leaving me in the room to undress. I’m given the option of going totally nude if I’m comfortable, as it helps with the flow of the healing nature of the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, but I politely decline.
I’m lying face down when she returns a few minutes later. She sings a chant before she begins, then removes the silk sheet I’ve been hiding beneath. She uses her forearms in continuous flowing movements to massage me in time with the music. It’s like the interpretative dance of the massage world. The only time it does get confronting is when I have to turn over with nothing to cover me except the disposable underwear that I am now truly grateful for. But my self-consciousness soon fades as I’ve become far too relaxed to care.
Ninety minutes of the massage, plus a 30-minute body scrub and a closing chant later, I blissfully walk out of the spa. I feel lightheaded and drunk on life. I head back to my room, the kitchen of which is filled with my finds from the farmers’ market: homemade olive oil, bread, hummus, feta and wine. Dinner is served. Just one other thing I didn’t have to think about it.
The luxurious Byron at Byron is located in a 45-acre subtropical rainforest near Tallow Beach, a five-minute drive away from Byron Bay. The resort offers daily shuttles to town three times a day, or you could borrow a complimentary bike. If you do head into Byron Bay, I recommend trying the deluxe beach burritos at Miss Margarita.
How to get there: It’s a 25-minute drive from Ballina airport or one hour from Gold Coast airport.
Cost: The four-night Mind Body Soul package starts from $2,324 for a single room. It includes buffet breakfast daily, 90-minute massage and a $150 spa voucher, private yoga, three two-course dinners and three once-course lunches, plus green smoothies daily.