Hamish Fletcher learns to relax and enjoy the spa experience.
I looked to my partner awkwardly as we prepared to reveal our bare bodies to complete strangers. She could offer me no help whatsoever. The situation was already tense - the drive over had been a navigational nightmare as we dashed across the New South Wales border, desperately hoping to reach our destination on time. Now, locked in a darkened room with nothing more than a bathrobe around me, I was anxious about committing a serious faux-pas.
I should have spoken up earlier, but was worried doing so would reveal my gross inexperience; that I had never before paid for these sort of services and was really quite anxious about the whole affair.
These fears were unfounded - it turned out that, had I insisted, I could keep my underwear on for the entire 50 minutes.
When walking into Kingscliff's Golden Door Spa I was uncertain to how comfortable I'd be with a stranger's hands all over my body. Ten minutes into my Swedish massage ($138 each) any misgiving faded into memory. To a faint soundtrack of birdsong and trickling water, 25 years of stress was forced out of me as I lay in a blissful trance. Backs, necks, shoulders, arms, legs - even fingers and toes - were all kneaded into shape as my partner and I were pulled, prodded and poked by our attentive masseuses.
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Coming straight to Kingscliff after an early-morning flight to the Gold Coast airport, this pampering was a sure sign that our holiday had begun.
We emerged calm and carefree after our treatment; the bickering car ride an hour before seemed a world away from our serene drive back to Coolangatta.
After getting through Golden Door with no embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions, I was quietly confident later that week when we visited Surfers Paradise's Q1 Spa, tucked below one of world's tallest residential skyscrapers.
But such assurance was misplaced; imagine my surprise when confronted with nothing but a small towel to drape over my nakedness.
A lot could go wrong in an hour-long full-body exfoliation. But again, my unease was soon behind me as I relaxed into the treatment, the therapist making sure the towel stayed exactly where it should be. Matters of modesty aside, Q1's "Coconut Ocean Wave" spa treatment ($207 each) saw us scrubbed down head-to-toe, scraping every flake of skin, cleansing every pore, before being snuggly cocooned in a wrap and delicately water-blasted off.
Although I left refreshed and with my modesty intact, it turns out my prudish paranoia is a common concern of first-time massage-goers. Experts advise bringing up any apprehensions with spa staff from the get-go to ensure your treatment is relaxing as it can be.