Grand Designs Australia: From Gaia with love

Grand Designs Australia: From Gaia with love


Spending weekdays in blissful Byron Bay and weekends in buzzing Broadbeach, Gregg Cave lives an enviable lifestyle

When most of us think of a city–country life, we assume it would be Monday to Friday spent in the city with country escapes limited to the weekend. But for Gaia Retreat & Spa’s director and general manager, Gregg Cave, life is quite the opposite, as he spends the working week in the Shire of Byron Bay and weekends in the heart of the Gold Coast.

Since opening in 2005, Gaia has received numerous accolades and awards, gaining an impeccable reputation as a leading boutique spa. At the World Spa Awards in September 2015, Gaia took out the World’s Best Day Spa

Bringing the colours of nature in and connecting with the land is integral to our look and philosophy
and Oceania’s Best Day Spa.

Gregg isn’t afraid to admit that it’s a lot of pressure to maintain the company’s prestigious stance in the industry. “I was living at Gaia when we first bought the property more than 10 years ago,” he says. “I was working on the design of the place and eventually I ended up taking over as the project manager during construction. After four years, it became overwhelming — Gaia became my entire life and it was not healthy.” A solution presented itself when the Gaia Board, comprising Gregg, Ruth Kalnin, Olivia Newton-John and Warwick Evans, purchased the property next door to Gaia, which became Gregg’s home.

While Gregg’s home is small, it is in perfect simpatico with the rest of Gaia’s stunning architecture. Originally a small brick cottage, the home and its grounds have been renovated and landscaped to blend in with the stunning natural surrounds and “let Mother Nature be the star of the show”. And what a show it is.

The home is set atop the highest hill in the Byron Shire. With sweeping view s across Byron’s rolling hinterland and the Pacific Ocean, these are some of the best vistas in the entire region — and that’s saying something.

The interiors are simple yet stunning. Prior to joining the board of Gaia, Gregg was a working actor and, later, a successful fine art dealer. He is especially humble about his art collection and puts much of it down to luck and the generosity of his artist friends, contacts and clients. When pushed, he reveals some of his collection, which includes an original John Olsen watercolour. It is the original pre-working piece for King Sun, featured in the lobby of Tower 1, Collins Square in Melbourne.

Gregg’s home is a glorious mix of collectables from his many travels and a showcase of his enviable art collection. “The design inspiration for Gaia and my home is intentionally centred on the colours of the local flora and fauna,” says Gregg. “Bringing the colours of nature in and connecting with the land is integral to our look and philosophy.” You don’t have to look too hard to see these design values in play; warm wood tones, highlights of green and earthy accents are woven throughout Gaia. Gregg chooses much of the signature soft furnishings from close friend Tai Schaffler from Bandhini Designs, who is also based on the Gold Coast.

In all the structures on Gaia, including Gregg’s personal home, allowing nature to shine is the constant theme. Structurally, there is a seamless flow between the inside and out throughout all the buildings on the property. This is a typical North Coast architectural feature, where the climate is temperate and the lines between the interiors and exteriors are constantly and intentionally blurred.

Much of Gaia’s success is owed to Gregg, the board and their amazing staff, many of whom have been with Gaia from conception. But possibly the most potent ingredient in Gaia’s success lies in the magical land it is blessed to be on. The Byron Shire is famed and respected as a healing region, attracting some of the most talented healers and practitioners in Australia, and Gaia benefits greatly from the pool of local talent.

“I know I’m blessed to live here,” says Gregg. “And every day, I consciously give thanks. But even with my separate house, I was still working too hard and not disconnecting from Gaia. With the other three directors, we realised we needed to buy somewhere away from Gaia, where I could escape on weekends and have a life, so we bought a fabulous apartment on Broadbeach Waters.” Securing a one-bedroom villa, the apartment features a huge living area and generous deck with swimming pool. “It’s right on the water facing north with a wonderful city skyline,” says Gregg. “It’s perfect for me on the weekends.”

Every Friday at 4pm, Gregg packs the car and the dogs. “I like to be up the coast for Friday night,” he says. “I get to visit the local cinema and watch the latest films in supreme comfort. I can indulge in all those city things you can’t do in Byron — smart dining, great shopping, visiting galleries and enjoying the buzz of the city. But being able to balance that with my life at gorgeous Gaia, as I constantly acknowledge, I truly know I’m blessed!”


Written by Tracey Hordern
Photography by Clive Buxton