Property tycoon Tim Gurner is set to open his first sold-out health and social club, Saint Haven, this week. Forbes Australia was granted an exclusive road test of its signature treatments.
Property sensation Tim Gurner demands that the scents be just-so in all his developments. He went through 300 before choosing the customised blend of blood orange, wild lavender and Peru balsam for his first Saint Haven wellness centre set to open next week in Collingwood, Melbourne. But when Forbes Australia was granted a test drive of what promises to be Australia’s most lux wellbeing experience, the smell of fresh-sawed wood was still in the air as tradesmen rushed to put the finishes in place.
Gurner, who has the knack of looking younger each time you see him, welcomes us and instructs strength and conditioning coach Chris to obliterate my quads in a power session. “Give him something to recover from.” For while it has more than the usual in the way of gym equipment, it’s in the recovery space that Saint Haven intends to stand out.
The concept has proved popular. Saint Haven claims to have sold its memberships, which cost up to $23,000 a year, despite having a five-stage interview process before they let you in. “While I can’t comment on the exact number of applications that we didn’t proceed with, it was a substantial number,” says Gurner. “We are very focused on curating a diverse group of members that will interact cohesively, as we bring together people from all different backgrounds.”
Most of the treatments available in Saint Haven are based on Gurner’s own biohacking routines.
They were honed during a crisis period for his development business where he risked losing everything, but which he says he got through largely on the back of the evergy derived from such routines. The club takes its design cues from northern Italy’s ancient grottos and spas, mashed with a dash of New York private club and a Thai health retreat. You enter down “The Path of Llife” a corridor of arched lights whos colour can change to fit the desired effect. Blue to wake you up and red to relax. Fill your water bottle at the “Fountain of Youth” with mineral infused reverse osmosis water and go to the gym, yoga studio or pilates and then let the recovery begin.
TOP FOUR RECOVERY HACKS AT SAINT HAVEN
Fire and Ice
The sessions begins when we’re handed a shot of what looks like whisky – Fire Tonic by SISUU. “And it has the same sort of feel,” says breath coach Eugene. It’s a concentrated recipe of “gut healing and immunity-boosting herbs and spices” – think Apple cider vinegar with garlic, ginger, horseradish, chili, mustard seed and more formulated to spark your metabolism awake. Tick. Once we’ve winced and made the appropriate high-pitched noises, we’re led into the Ancient Bath room and into a traditional sauna cranked up to 100 degrees celsius.
Ten minutes in there, with Eugene explaining how he went from professional rugby to breath coaching as our pores open wide, is followed by a plunge into the 7.5-degree ice bath next door. The existential shock trains your body and brain to be resilient to more mundane stresses, he explains. The cold burns, and Eugene reminds us to breathe, to stay calm, to stay with it. I do all right for a couple of minutes but after two dips under with my head I feel an urgent message from headquarters to GTFO.
As we dry off in the fluffy white towels, feet tingly and strangely burning, we’re met with a tray of Chad’s Hydration Elixir, made with salted umeboshi plum, coconut water, lemon, raw honey and ginger. Delicious.
From there, it’s back to the Saint Haven sauna, but there were alternatives: the steam room which uses filtered water so you’re not breathing in chlorine and other off-gases; or the “vitamin C shower” – a shower with attached cartridge of ascorbic acid – that is meant to replenish your electrolytes (not to mention all that hair, skin and nail promotion!); or the “infrared stone bed”, a beautiful slab of marble shaped into a banana bed with infrared heat running through it, which apparently warms the body from the inside out. Or perhaps the 37-degree pool where the water is laced with Himalayan rock salt, potassium, magnesium and sulphate to put back in what all the shock has just taken out.
I’m taken through some breathing exercises with Eugene. “Power breathing” – quickly pumping the stomach with a sharp inhale, then the chest, then a fast exhale through pursed lips. We do 30 in quick succession, with groovy beats invading my brain as it goes a little fuzzy and a little “flight or fight”. We do a more relaxed cycle to chill, the candles flickering in the soft-lit, Meditation Cave. It has a similar purpose to the cold plunge – teaching your body and brain to deal with stress.
Hydroxy Chamber and/or the Hypobaric Chamber
I’m advised I’ll have to pop my ears like I’m coming down in a plane as I climb into a tube in which the air pressure will rise as they pump oxygen and hydrogen in to reoxygenate my cells. Athletes are using them for injury recovery. We’re going to 1.2 atmospheres. I’m locked into the space-age tube and a few latches are clunked, ready for launch. There is a red emergency button above my eyes.
Saint Haven staff can speak to me through an intercom, like the captain of an aeroplane. I’m asked what mood I want to evoke with the lights. I go for “happy”, which turns out to be a bluish white. A slight smell invades the tube as the mix of oxygen and hydrogen are pumped in. My ears do pop a lot and a pleasant tingling invades my being. A sign in front of my eyes tells me not to sleep. “There is a risk of lack of oxygen”.
I’d requested an intravenous drip of vitamins and minerals, but, disappointingly, it wasn’t yet available.
The session was followed by a fantastic gluten-free dairy-free lunch of vegetables, almond cheese and beef & liver sausage prepared by Saint Haven chef Chad Lynch, washed down with an excellent coconut milk chai from the range of alcohol-free beverages. (After initially intending to offer booze at the bar – for its social benefits – Saint Haven has decided to be alcohol free.)
Saint Haven will soon be announcing its second Melbourne club before expanding to other states.
Tim Gurner will speak live at The Forbes Australia Future of Wealth Summit which will cover the latest economic factors and trends that are shaping our future. Tap here to secure your seat.