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FIRST LOOK: See inside Bargara's first five-star offering

FIVE-STAR: Shane and Pascaline Emms will offer team building and wellness programs at Zen Beach Retreat at Bargara.
FIVE-STAR: Shane and Pascaline Emms will offer team building and wellness programs at Zen Beach Retreat at Bargara. Craig Warhurst

WHAT would you give to escape to paradise?

In Bargara you'll find your answer.

The beachside suburb is now home to its first five-star offering: Zen Beach Retreat.

Set overlooking Kellys Beach along Miller St, Zen is a haven for corporate junkies and large groups looking to relax and realign their life.

Owners Shane and Pascaline Emms can design creative team building and wellness programs for guests and facilitate all catering and tour needs on a group-by-group basis.

The couple, who have three sons - Kieran, 23, Basile, 18, and Charlie, 8 - bought the property four years ago at a receiver's sale and began the extensive renovation project 12 months ago.

The family has spent the past 15 years travelling the globe through their work with agriculture firm Syngenta and decided to settle back in Australia to continue raising their family.

"I said 'There's got to be a better life somewhere without working yourself into an early grave," Shane said.

Pascaline, who grew up in France, wanted to live by the ocean but found Noosa's pricing limiting. Then one day they found themselves standing on Kellys Beach.

They bought the property, previously a holiday rental complex, and began the process of transforming it into a place of peace.

Pascaline, who studied interior design in Paris, has created areas throughout the retreat that bring a sense of harmony and wellbeing.

The four villas, situated behind the communal living area, are individually themed - executive, French, Asian and oriental - and self-contained.

The villas adjoin an outdoor cabana area, where at night fairy lights illuminate the space and the soft glow of the deep-water pool seems irresistible.

Guests can then walk up the timber stairs through the kitchen and living area, where Kellys Beach glistens in the morning sun.

This opens to an outdoor deck that is the perfect place to relax, or, if you want to get even closer to the water, the sky lounge on the grassy hill below beckons.

"You don't see this in the city. You've got the Milky Way sitting right above you," Shane said.

Below the living area is where Shane and his family reside and where you'll find the Relaxarium - a place of tranquility with a hydrotherapy spa for four and relaxation area.

One thing that sets Zen apart is the decor. Through their travels the couple has picked up an extensive collection of pieces that they had shipped over and which are now talking pieces throughout the retreat.

Inside you will find an old Chinese wedding cabinet in vivid yellow, a lamp made by Pascaline's mother, doors from Provence from the 1800s, volcanic rock from Indonesia and even a light from the Grand Bazzar in Turkey that lights up like a kaleidoscope at night.

The couple is also passionate about supporting locals and visitors will find the work of artist Paul Perry as they are first guided into the retreat.

The Emmses will work together to offer corporate and large groups team-building exercises and wellness plans to manage their lives and their businesses better.

"We chose Zen because of the mindset that places you in. You think relax, slow down, take it easy," Shane said.

Electronics are discouraged at the retreat so guests can reconnect with nature and the simple pleasures in life.

Guests will be picked up from the airport and Shane said he was already pleasantly surprised by interest from groups.

"We think the area has a lot more promotion potential," he said.

"We're very proud of what we've done."

Topics:  accommodation bargara bundaberg kellys beach relaxation tourism zen beach retreat



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