DECKED OUT FOR LEISURE

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel - Susan Kuro­sawa

THE wear­ing of travel cos­tumes has never ap­pealed to De­par­ture Lounge , who has reached an age where crimes against Neo­prene, padded parkas and rub­ber should not go un­pun­ished. Travel can make fools of us all when it comes to get­ting trussed up in spe­cialised gear. In th­ese days of in­stant record, there’s sure to be a pho­tog­ra­pher on hand cap­tur­ing the sorry event for dig­i­tal pos­ter­ity. But all the delete but­tons in the world couldn’t al­le­vi­ate Lounge ’ s em­bar­rass­ment at be­ing in­vited, at a Ja­panese ryokan, to don a yukata that might have fit­ted Cherry Blos­som Bar­bie but clearly was not up to the job when it came to Lounge ’ s in­creas­ingly gen­er­ous girth.

Lounge has no such prob­lem with footwear, be­ing the pos­ses­sor of a pair of fairy-sized feet that may not do much of a job hold­ing her up­right in a cy­clone but can suc­cess­fully slide their way into dainty flipflop slip­pers from Ky­oto to Kath­mandu. Then there are spa gowns, fre­quently de­signed ex­clu­sively for size 6 lol­lipop women. Af­ter months of laun­dry, even stick in­sects couldn’t fit into such tiny gar­ments.

So Lounge is pleased to hear from Ains­ley Cant, spa man­ager at Min­eral Spa at Pep­pers Springs Re­treat in Vic­to­ria’s Hep­burn Springs. She writes to say that af­ter Travel&In­dul­gence (July 29-30) gave the spa re­treat a serve for its gap­ing gowns, roomier sizes are be­ing in­tro­duced. Cant also re­ports spa-go­ers are be­ing given the op­tion of fill­ing in health ques­tion­naires be­fore their visit. This is some­thing other spas would do well to heed. Af­ter set­tling into the so-called re­lax­ation room, it is any­thing but re­lax­ing to be handed one of th­ese forms to fill in when your glasses are in the locker, many scented cor­ri­dors away.

Of course, not ev­ery­one is as well-hipped and short-sighted as Lounge , but if the spa in­dus­try is meant to be about ab­so­lute pam­per­ing, then one size must fit all. www.min­er­alspa.com.au.

A NEW out­doorsy con­cept has just opened in Syd­ney that en­ables would-be ad­ven­tur­ers to test gear in sim­u­lated con­di­tions. No gir­lie spa gowns here but five themed lev­els of ac­tion duds and ac­ces­sories for ev­ery­thing from camp­ing to climb­ing. The Five05 con­cept store even has Aus­tralia’s first ice room where you can test fleecy, ther­mal and good old rug-up cloth­ing in sim­u­lated and suit­ably chilly cli­matic con­di­tions. Fam­ily-owned Five05 is an in­de­pen­dent re­tailer so there’s no al­liance with par­tic­u­lar brands: sounds like a great ini­tia­tive and just the shot for try­ing on ski gear for, say, the ap­proach­ing snow sea­son in Ja­pan. 505 Kent St, Syd­ney; www.five05.com.au.

SUM­MER is nigh and re­sort open­ings con­tinue apace, with Pool Port Douglas in trop­i­cal north Queens­land the latest to launch. It looks very chic, with a swim-up room cat­e­gory that is a cheeky vari­a­tion on the swim-out rooms of its Mir­vac-run neigh­bour, Sea Tem­ple. Whether up, out or in, this ac­cess from ter­race to main pool seems to be the latest ini­tia­tive for swim­ming ease, and just a rung be­low the con­cept of private pools. ( Pep­pers Bale, Port Douglas is where to go for the sanc­tu­ary of an exclusive plunge pool.) www.pool-port­dou­glas.com.au.

HEAVEN for­bid that first-class pas­sen­gers should have to lift a fin­ger. If you are lucky enough to be a Qan­tas pointy-end habitue, then the new Duty Free Concierge Ser­vice means you can avoid the trauma of air­port shop­ping by de­cid­ing on your pur­chases from a cat­a­logue in the Qan­tas First lounges in Syd­ney and Melbourne. The goods will then be de­liv­ered to you, which shouldn’t in­ter­fere with your in-lounge spa ses­sions or with scoff­ing Neil Perry- de­signed pre­de­par­ture dishes.

Lounge , who could not be called a first­class spec­i­men th­ese days, has in­spected the new Syd­ney lounge and it is an un­earthly af­fair, with black-uni­formed staff glid­ing, a rock wall sprout­ing live ferns, and a ded­i­cated re­lax­ation spa. Lounge is still un­re­laxed, how­ever, about the ridicu­lous ob­sta­cle course that awaits de­part­ing pas­sen­gers be­yond Syd­ney’s im­mi­gra­tion and se­cu­rity checks. The all-per­va­sive Down­town Duty Free fran­chise has colonised al­most ev­ery cen­time­tre of avail­able space and one must dodge tow­ers of cheap gin and pyra­mids of celebrity per­fume. It’s a sim­i­lar scene on ar­rival, with the added at­trac­tion of spruik­ers press­ing bas­kets at pas­sen­gers and trum­pet­ing the gen­er­ous duty-free al­lowances.

FIND of the week: The Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art has a newish shop at Syd­ney air­port T3 (Qan­tas do­mes­tic ter­mi­nal) full of gor­geous gift items and cards. It comes with a sin­gu­lar lack of spruik­ers.

LOUNGE loves: The strange col­li­sion of tim­ing that has led to three books about the Camino pil­grim­age trail in Spain be­ing re­leased re­cently. Sell­ing well are two by Aus­tralian au­thors: TheYearWeSeizedthe Day by Colin Bowles and El­iz­a­beth Best and Walk­ingth­eCamino by Tony Kevin. The latest is WhatthePsy­chicToldthePil­grim by Jane Christ­mas, a Cana­dian in search of ‘‘ a midlife mis­ad­ven­ture’’ (East Street Publi­ca­tions, $26.95).

LOUNGE loathes: Midlife mis­ad­ven­tures in­volv­ing tow­elling gowns. One dol­lar a night for lux­ury ho­tel rooms; free meals on Fiji’s Trea­sure Is­land; fuel bonus in Queens­land’s Her­vey Bay. Travel &In­dul­gence’s hol­i­day deals are up­dated daily at www.theaus­tralian.com.au/travel.

DEALS OF THE WEEK

Bring on the gowns: The spa in­dus­try is fine-tun­ing its ser­vices so ev­ery client can feel re­laxed and com­fort­able

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