Olivia Newton-John sells Byron Bay retreat to the Forrests for $30m

Andrew and Nicola Forrest have bought Olivia Newton-John’s Byron Bay wellness retreat. Picture: Supplied by Colliers
Andrew and Nicola Forrest have bought Olivia Newton-John’s Byron Bay wellness retreat. Picture: Supplied by Colliers

Olivia Newton-John has sold her luxury Byron Bay lifestyle retreat to billionaires Andrew and Nicola Forrest for an estimated $30 million.

The Forrest family-owned Tattarang, one of Australia’s largest private investment groups, added the Gaia Retreat & Spa to its diverse portfolio that includes iconic Australian brand R.M. Williams.

Ms Newton-John said she and co-owners Gregg Cave, Ruth Kalnin and Warwick Evans were excited to have sold to Tattarang.

“After 16 years, we are excited to pass the baton to new visionaries to nurture and grow this majestic hinterland oasis – a place which has been so deeply embraced as a ‘home away from home’ for so many on their wellness and healing journey,” Ms Newton-John said.

Gaia Retreat Byron Bay

Gaia Retreat & Spa owners (L to R) Warwick Evans, Olivia Newton-John, Ruth Kalnin and Gregg Cave. Picture: Supplied by Colliers

The British-born Australian singer, actor and entrepreneur said Gaia and Tattarang shared the same values.

“Both Gaia and Tattarang are built upon the incredible diversity of this land; a commitment to share with our guests those unique and extraordinary experiences that make our country so special,” Ms Newton-John said in a video message.

“We are so very thrilled to see how this fresh, exciting and innovative group will carry on our legacy.

“It has been our very great privilege to share our slice of paradise.”

Founded in 2005, Gaia is located about 20km southwest of Byron Bay on the NSW far north coast.

It has 22 rooms and suites, a day spa, restaurant, swimming pool, yoga studio, fitness centre, tennis court and walking tracks.

Gaia Retreat Byron Bay

The boutique lifestyle retreat has 22 rooms and suites. Picture: Supplied by Colliers

Gaia’s owners put the award-winning wellness retreat on the market in April, with the sale facilitated by Colliers agents Karen Wales and Gus Moors.

The sale price was not disclosed but was widely reported to be about $30 million.

Ms Wales, Colliers’ national director – Asia Pacific for hotels transactions services, said Gaia attracted widespread interest with groups from Asia, Europe and the United States all making enquiries, although domestic groups dominated due to the closed international borders.

“The response to the campaign was overwhelmingly positive which highlights the strong investor appetite for high-end regional properties in Australia, particularly those located in the Northern Rivers region of NSW and with such prominence as a global pioneer in wellness,” Ms Wales said.

“Interest was widespread with inspections conducted by high-net-worth individuals, owner operator groups, fund managers and developers.”

Mr Cave said the owners decided there was no other group to entrust their business to as soon as they met the Tattarang team.

“It is with great honour and gratitude that we have been able to find the right custodian to take the reins of our precious piece of paradise,” Mr Cave said.

Gaia Retreat & Spa

The Gaia Retreat & Spa is set on eight hectares near Byron Bay. Picture: Supplied by Colliers

Tattarang director Nicola Forrest said Gaia’s founders had created an iconic Australian brand with a coveted global reputation for excellence in wellness and luxury.

“As custodians of truly unique Australian experiences, we understand and deeply respect the founding vision of Gaia which has transformed a wellness philosophy into one of Australia’s most celebrated destinations,” Mrs Forrest said.

Mrs Forrest said Tattarang was investing in and developing unique and meaningful places.

“Tattarang’s business approach is holistic – it’s not just about investing in quality businesses, but ensuring sustainability and community benefit,” she said.

Tattarang chief investment officer John Hartman said the group’s property division Fiveight acquired the retreat, with its lifestyle division Z1Z to deliver all hotel and associated operations.

“Through our lifestyle division Z1Z, we are investing in brands, products and experiences that share the best of Australia with our guests, with Fiveight’s philosophy driven by a focus on creating and owning iconic properties and precincts, with a long-term horizon,” Mr Hartman said.

Ms Wales said businesses anticipated further growth in wellness tourism post-COVID.

“Whilst wellness tourism was already a growing sector of the tourism industry, destinations and businesses anticipate new business opportunities and growth in the post-COVID context,” she said.

“This reflects trends seen in the wellness industry worldwide, which is now attracting institutional capital who see the flow-on benefits of wellness branding into areas such as merchandising, apps and other opportunities.”

Gaia Retreat Byron Bay

The Gaia Retreat & Spa has operated since 2005. Picture: Supplied by Colliers

The Z1Z portfolio features hospitality, food and beverage, fashion and sport, including R.M. Williams and the Western Force rugby team.

Fiveight’s diverse property portfolio covers residential, commercial and industrial assets, including the Swan Brewery in Perth and the proposed Ningaloo Lighthouse Resort near Exmouth in Western Australia.