Inside Byron Bay's Exclusive SOMA Meditation Retreat Used in 'Nine Perfect Strangers'

Hulu's latest hit drama Nine Perfect Strangers follows nine individuals from all walks of life, as they embark on a ten-day wellness retreat to help bring them clarity and a new lease of life.

Set at the fictional Tranquillum House in California, the retreat is run by mysterious host Masha Dmitrichenko (played by Nicole Kidman) and her three staff members.

Before long, a string of disturbing events start to unfold, proving all at the wellness retreat is not as it seems.

The series is based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty, who also wrote Big Little Lies which was adapted for TV by HBO and starred Kidman alongside Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley.

Rather than on set, the series was filmed at a real retreat - SOMA Meditation Retreat in Byron Bay, Australia.

Not only was the novel originally set in Moriarty's native Australia, but the location proved better for filming during the pandemic.

Director Jonathan Levine previously told Newsweek: "We were originally going to shoot this show in LA, then we were a week away from building all these sets on the Paramount lot in mid-March but we quickly realized that was not possible.

SOMA Resort in Nine Perfect Strangers
Byron Bay's SOMA meditation retreat was used for Tranquillum House in "Nine Perfect Strangers."

"Ironically this was not a show conceived in COVID, however, a lot of the details of the show logistically did make it a good fit for a pandemic. One location, self-contained, very small cast, not a lot of extras.

"We looked in Australia because a lot of our producing team is Australian and they were doing very well with COVID."

Due to travel restrictions, SOMA ended up being selected by Levine just from photos and drone footage before filming began.

The staff's experience also proved invaluable as Levine explained: "We did often ask the folks who ran the place to give us some authenticity checks on some of what we were doing. It was a perfect place."

Nicole Kidman in Nine Perfect Strangers
Masha (Nicole Kidman) speaks to the Tranquillum House guests as they lie in their shallow graves. Vince Valitutti/Hulu

What Is SOMA Meditation Retreat?

SOMA is located in Byron Bay, a picturesque coastal town in New South Wales, and is set in 22 acres of rainforest.

SOMA was founded by Gary Gorrow and Peter Ostick in 2019.

Gorrow has over 17 years' experience as a Vedic meditation practitioner, qualified Ayurvedic health coach, mindfulness expert, high performance coach, motivational speaker and social entrepreneur.

He has worked with a number of high-profile clients over the course of his career, including actress Cate Blanchett.

Ten years ago Ostick was the founder of a media company operating out of nine countries when he became burnt out and found himself in hospital for the second time in three months due to stress and exhaustion.

He met Gorrow while seeking to make a change to his lifestyle before creating SOMA together.

What Services Does SOMA Offer Guests?

SOMA offers four retreat packages with prices for individuals starting at AU $2,500 ($1,797.44) for a two-night stay.

The three-day meditation retreat includes accommodation in a king-size suite with ensuite bathroom, training in Vedic meditation with Gorrow, daily yoga sessions, a continental breakfast and Ayurvedic lunches and dinners. It also includes access to the grounds and facilities including sauna, magnesium ice bath and freshwater pool, a guided forest walk, and nightly outdoor firepit.

Its most expensive package, Masterclass, starts at AU $4,500 ($3260.41) for individuals and promises to "unleash your creative potential and generate a significant shift in your ways of looking at the world."

SOMA Meditation retreat Byron Bay
SOMA Meditation retreat Byron Bay

It includes twice daily seminars with Australian photographers Stephen Dupont and Tamara Dean who aim to "inspire, motivate and help you find the hidden passion and creativity."

Guests will also experience daily movement classes and be catered to with all meals included and prepared by an Ayurvedic chef.

Other packages offer private mentoring with Gorrow and a range of spa treatments.

SOMA also offers an online course in meditation and mindfulness called Rise, costing AU $349 ($252.86).

Explaining his and SOMA's philosophy ahead of Rise's launch, Gorrow said: "Through working with thousands of people I've realised there is no magic cure for anxiety, no magic pill, nor can there be a one size fits all approach.

"As human beings we are all unique and multifaceted, hence any approach needs to be nuanced, holistic and intelligently founded."

SOMA's approach is about "recalibration" and helps to "empower people with a new perspective, practical knowledge and science-based tools that will serve to create the foundations for a richer life," he added.

Nine Perfect Strangers airs every Wednesday on Hulu and is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

SOMA Resort
The real life location of SOMA is secluded in Byron Bay, Australia. It was used as most of the setting for Hulu's "Nine Perfect Strangers."