Soothe yourself – body and soul – at these five blissful retreats in greater Melbourne and its surrounds.
Best for… Zen
An authentic slice of Kyoto only 90 minutes’ drive from Melbourne, Shizuka sets the dial to Zen from the minute you step through the door. This unique retreat in the heart of Victoria’s Spa Country features minimalist guestrooms – rice-paper sliding doors, tatami flooring and no television sets. But what the ryokan lacks in digital technology, it more than makes up for in organic-produce-driven omakase (chef’s choice) dinners, while the day spa lets guests relax to the max. Book a traditional Geisha Facial, which uses white tea, lotus root and nightingale droppings (true); have your body polished and buffed to gleaming Rolls-Royce perfection; or go the holistic route with a reflexology massage that kneads pressure points on the feet that correlate with other parts of the body.
Best for… luxury
Salus Spa at Lake House
The thrilling combination of boutique hotel, multi-award-winning restaurant and serene spa, triangulated in one of Central Victoria’s most picturesque settings, makes Lake House a magnet for pleasure-seekers of all stripes. The spa is perched over waterfall-fed tumbling streams to embrace views of the birch-lined lake. Relaxation begins in one of two private tree-house rooms, where a bubbling mineral-water bath for one is accompanied by views and the sound of nearby geese. Then move on to one of the seven treatment rooms for a massage followed by a facial using deliciously aromatic Elemis products, based on first-press essential oils. Our suggestion: avail yourself of a package then enjoy a meal made with local produce in the Hamptons-style dining room before retiring to an art-decorated suite. Sweet.
Best for… treatments
Mansion Hotel & Spa at Werribee Park
This grand Italianate mansion, set among four hectares of neatly clipped grounds on Melbourne’s western outskirts, dates back to the 1870s but the spa is pure indulgence, 2017 style. Popular with bridal parties and for girls’ weekends, the treatment menu will address your beauty woes – or simply ease your tired body into a state of blissful relaxation. The obvious solution to wellness indecision is to cover all bases: start with a hot-stone massage, follow it with a calming facial and finish on a fragrant orange note with a hair treatment you’ll be loath to wash out. The après-treatment experience is nonpareil, too. Stay in your slippers and fluffy bathrobe and sip herbal tea (or champagne) in the softly lit lounge area, surrounded by the latest fashion magazines. Really, the only pressing reason to leave is for dinner at the hotel’s modern-European dining room, Joseph’s Restaurant & Bar.
Best for… a “me change”
Fancy an exclusive retreat with one-on-one yoga classes, meditation sessions, health workshops and... er, alpacas? This holistic retreat sets out to realign its guests’ chakras via customised programs devised with owners Wayne and Annah Mirananda. Located in a bucolic Central Victorian setting, the lodge’s resident herd of South American camelids graze among modern sculptures. The half-day to week-long escapes are all about wellbeing. Indulgent spa therapies include a Himalayan salt scrub, while organic meals are courtesy of herbalist Annah (her signature dish is baked salmon with a Meredith Dairy goat’s fetta and pistachio crust). Whatever ails you on the inside is up for discussion, too, with counselling, sound therapy and guided visualisations. This me change comes with comfortable accommodation: the two guest wings are designed as private sanctuaries with open fires and East-meets-West décor.
Best for… water-lovers
Peninsula Hot Springs
“How’s the serenity?” Relax in the steaming, geothermally heated waters of the Hilltop Pool, which has 360-degree views of the Mornington Peninsula, and try not uttering the famous line from The Castle. Located 80 minutes’ drive from Melbourne, this multi-award-winning wellness venue has 25 pools (meaning your peace is assured) set amid 17 hectares of lush greenery. Rich in healing minerals, the water is naturally about 50˚C before it’s cooled for soaking. You can easily spend an indulgent couple of hours (or four, or five…) sampling the bathing smorgasbord, which includes a traditional Turkish hammam, cold plunge pools, an underground sauna and a pressure massage under thermal showers. And for those who jealously guard their serenity, the Spa Dreaming Centre is open only to those aged over 16.