If the past year took its toll, rejuvenate your body and your mind with a spa treatment. We review three Australian city day spas to help you find the best spot for some pampering.
Jet Lag Body Remedy - Eforea Spa At Hilton On The Park, Melbourne
I haven't jumped off a long-haul flight, but I am tired and cranky when I try the jet lag body remedy at Eforea Spa.
The first leg of my recovery is a hydrotherapy treatment: 30 minutes in a hot spa bath in a private room. Actually, it is more like a bubble bath in a spa. Apart from a couple of times when I have to reach out to bring the bubbles back in, for fear they will overflow and spread throughout the room, it is relaxing.
The spa even caters for couples, with twin spas side by side. The next leg is what I have really come for. It starts with a full-body exfoliation, using the Kerstin Florian skin care range's Turkish body scrub with eucalyptus, to get rid of dead skin and help circulation.
After a quick shower, it's back on the massage table for a Swedish massage and my first with stones. I don't know that the stones add that much to the massage, especially since one slides off my back, but they certainly add to the pampering feeling. As does the scalp massage as I lie cocooned in towels. Harmony body oil is massaged into my skin, leaving me smelling of geranium, grapefruit and lavender.
All too soon the 90 minutes are over. My therapist tells me I need to drink plenty of water over the next couple of hours. I leave with a slight headache that subsides when I drink more water, as well as a wish that I'd realised after previous long flights that I can get pampered and massaged to ward off jet lag. Even driving home through peak-hour traffic doesn't faze me.
Caribbean Therapy Body Treatment - Isika Spa, Crown Perth
The only thing missing from a Caribbean-themed treatment at Crown Perth's Isika Spa is a reggae soundtrack. Or perhaps a beach sand exfoliation, rather than the gentle paddle that is used to slough away dead skin cells.
But that might be too obvious or tacky for such an up-market establishment, which encourages clients to start their session unwinding in a soft-toned relaxation room, where they can sprawl on a chaise with a glass of the spa's unusually exotic signature tea in hand.
Padding down the hall in a fluffy bathrobe, you are then led into a dimly-lit treatment room where the only sound is a soothing, faint crystalline tinkle. First comes dry exfoliation, followed by the treatment highlight: a warm seaweed body masque that smooths the skin and is said to detoxify. It has a pleasant briny scent that lingers on skin long afterwards.
To maximise its effects, you're swaddled in towels and given a lengthy, heavenly, indulgent feet, hands and scalp massage.
At the end of 90 minutes, as you rise to shower off the masque, don't be surprised if you're so relaxed that your limbs feel weighty, which the therapists claim is proof toxins are being drawn out of the body. Whether that's true or not is irrelevant, you think, as you leave reluctantly, as relaxed as a well-cooked noodle.
Traveller's Retreat - The Spa At The Darling, Sydney
Traveller's Retreat is 60 minutes of indulgence designed to reduce stress, exhaustion or jet lag. As a frequent traveller, I'm looking forward to the experience.
In the stylish spa, I change into requisite fluffy robe and head to a relaxation room. There, I rest on a day bed until I am called for my treatment.
I saunter down a quiet corridor to a small room to lie on a comfortable, warm massage table. Traveller's Retreat begins with a firm massage that relaxes tight muscles in my back, neck and shoulders. Next is a hydrating mini-facial, followed by a scalp massage that further reduces tension.
If I were indeed jet lagged, I'd have no doubt this would stop me feeling so fatigued. The only time the treatment falls down, however, is when "Oxygen Inhalation" begins. It's noisy and jarring to the overall experience. The therapist turns on a machine behind my head and places a tube at the opening of my nostrils. Oxygen passes through the tube and blasts into my nose. It's a strange sensation that irritates because the tube repeatedly slips from its spot. I am told the oxygen is energising but afterwards I feel no different. I later read it's a natural remedy for jet lag. I'm sceptical.
Still, the entire spa experience is very pleasant and I wish my time at The Spa at The Darling would slow. Afterwards, I go back to the tiled day beds for a soothing herbal tea. It's a lovely way to end an hour at The Spa.
The writers travelled as guests of Eforea Spa at Hilton on the Park, Isika Spa at Crown Perth and The Spa at The Darling.
QUEENSLAND SPA RETREATS
For a truly relaxing time in Queensland, indulge in some of the special treatments available at its spas:
Set in the Gold Coast Hinterland with ocean and valley views, the largest spa in the Southern Hemisphere includes 33 treatment rooms. Programmes last from two to seven days.
Taking a contemporary yet indigenous approach, treatments are designed to rebalance the synergy between mind and body and capture the essence of Australia and the Barrier Reef.
Boasting a hammam (Turkish bath) with ice fountain, relaxation lounge and bird's-eye view nail bar, massages, facials and body treatments include the Weekend Warrior for men.
Guests enjoy treatments including a hot rocks massage, lime and ginger exfoliating wrap, coconut milk wrap and muscle relax ritual or a dip in the plunge spa pool.
Offering luxuriously pampering experiences based on ancient Aboriginal techniques, medicines fused with aromatherapy healing methods and Li'Tya natural spa products.
Beachfront treatment rooms and open-air rooftop spa pavilions with the Coral Sea and sand outside their doors, plus expert therapists flown in from Phuket, Thailand.
Nestled in Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland, this spa turns to the grapes it grows at its nearby vineyard for a specialist signature treatment.
This premier massage-to-door operator services Brisbane, Gold Coast, Hinterland and the Sunshine Coast.
Its Opal Rasul Temple treatment is said to provide an uplifting soul strengthening journey guaranteed to evoke warmth and passion for couples seeking the ultimate escape or an irreplaceable bonding experience for mothers and daughters, or between best friends.
Spas under the outback stars
Unexpected treats like the mud soaks in refurbished claw baths at Palm Grove Date Farm and Winery in Eulo, southwest Queensland; the spa "tanks" on Nardoo Station near Cunnamulla; and the town spas in Mitchell, Bedourie, Blackall, Ilfracombe and Julia Creek, where water comes direct from one of the world's largest underground water reservoirs.
IF YOU GO
Fly there with: Air New Zealand.