Twiggy Forrest has beefed up his investment company’s portfolio with a $30-million outlay for an internationally-renowned wellness retreat in the Byron Bay hinterland.
Private investment group Tattarang, owned by the Forrest family, has acquired the boutique Gaia Retreat & Spa, which was founded by co-owners Olivia Newton-John, Gregg Cave, Ruth Kalnin and Warwick Evans in 2005.
They put the property on the market in March via an expressions of interest campaign with Colliers.
The property features 22 luxury rooms, a restaurant, day spa, swimming pool, sauna and spa, as well as fitness centre, tennis court and walking tracks, set across 8ha with views to the coast.
Tattarang’s property division Fiveight has acquired the retreat, while its lifestyle division Z1Z will deliver the hotel and associated operations.
Tattarang chief investment officer John Hartman said Fiveight’s property portfolio had a diverse spread across residential, commercial and industrial assets predominantly in Western Australia.
“Our investments say as much about the aspiration and much-envied modern lifestyle that our country enjoys as it does about the exciting future it represents,” Hartman said.
“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.”
Tattarang director Nicola Forrest paid tribute to Gaia’s founders for “creating and sustaining 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,” she said.
“We are investing in and developing unique and meaningful place, places that have the capacity to enhance the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities … Tattarang’s business approach is holistic—it’s not just about investing in quality businesses, but ensuring sustainability and community benefit.”
Newton-John said after 16 years she and the other owners were excited to “pass the baton to new visionaries”.
“We are so very thrilled to see how this fresh, exciting and innovative group will preserve our legacy and we wish them as many heartfelt moments as we have shared with our wonderful loyal staff and guests over the years,” Newton-John said.
The transaction was facilitated by Colliers’ Karen Wales and Gus Moors.
Colliers national director for Asia Pacific hotels transactions Karen Wales said there had been strong investor appetite for the expressions of interest campaign.
“Interest was widespread with inspections conducted by high net worth individuals owner operator groups, fund managers and developers,” Wales said.
“Groups from Asia, Europe and United States all enquired, whilst domestic groups dominated owing to closed international borders.
“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.
“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.”