DECKED OUT FOR LEISURE
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