A spa, spa better thing
HOWlong before travellers start planning their accommodation around the quality of a property’s spa as well as (or even rather than) its accommodation? The size, scope and product lines used at a spa are already deciding factors for many consumers, as evidenced by the investment that Hyatt Regency Coolum, on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, has just put into its signature facility.
The Spa at Hyatt Regency Coolum reopened earlier this month after a $4.2 million refit. Now there are 18 treatment rooms, many with ferny outdoor courtyards, and a fabulous manicure-pedicure (mani-pedi in spa language) lounge where clients sit on an elevated bench piled with bolsters and cushions. It looks freshly transplanted from a Moroccan riad and just as lush and exotic. The other spaces in the spa are much more Australian in feel, featuring local timber and unsullied stone finishes and cool colours that tie in with the resort’s beach-and-bush location.
DepartureLounge was there for the opening event, towing MrLounge, a chap who knows his shiatsu from his Swedish and isn’t afraid to lie down in a room with mood lighting and piped gamelan music and say so. Mr Lounge even appreciates the comparative benefits of various spa products and was approving of Hyatt Regency Coolum’s Carita range (in fact, it’s the only spa in Queensland to offer these top-class Parisian unguents).
But on matters to do with soap, you’d wonder why Lounge ever bothered to send her other to obedience school. She thought he had been well versed in which soaps one instantly appropriates from hotel rooms to take home and drool over and which ones are insignificant enough to actually use in situ.
In the Ambassadors Club at Hyatt Regency Coolum, where an arc of wantonly spacious residences have multiple bathrooms equipped with La Prairie soaps and bath products, MrLounge was seconds away from actually using said soap before Lounge swooped and saved the day. ‘‘ Next you’ll be wanting me to travel with a cake of Solvol in my port,’’ he was heard to mutter.
La Prairie is only the world’s most expensive spa range, even using caviar in some of its products. Its Jewelled Skin Caviar Luxe Skin Cream is available in a limited-edition jar encrusted with 2400 Swarovski crystals. No free samples at hotels, sadly. ■ HYATT Regency Coolum was bought by in 2003 and the company set about creating residential precincts; eventually there will be about 550 dwellings but 64 per cent of the site will be retained as open recreational and conservation space, so this is no shoulder-to-shoulder compound.
This is the big new thing in resortland: the integration of cool, contemporary houses so that guests can extend their holidays forever by actually living there, usually in active retirement. The pluses are obvious: high security and low maintenance, like-minded neighbours and access to splendid leisure facilities (the fun and friendly Todd Woodbridge was conducting tennis clinics during Lounge ’ s visit).
One of the must-haves for these golden years is the presence of a golf course (Coolum is home of the Australian PGA Championship); chaps (and women given to sensible shoes) of a certain age seem quite potty about golf and here you can do it with kangaroos thrown in. Across the 150ha Coolum site, the roos lounge about as if they own the joint and seem unfazed
Lend Lease by little white balls skimming over their heads. To procure a slice of the good (resort) life is no cheap option but this is the way of the future for moneyed retirees and other very successful developments, such as Mirvac’s Magenta Shores near The Entrance on the NSW Central Coast, prove it.
Lounge likes the idea of such quasi-resort living and is well-equipped for it already, with a vast collection of purloined hotel soap from 30 years of travel editing; enough to see her and MrLounge through, in fact, until they shuffle off to the great spa resort in the sky. www.coolum.regency.hyatt.com. ■ ALSO new in the accommodation universe is the advance of the urban wellness hotel. Turn to page 5 for Judy Chapman’s round-up of city oases that are offering all manner of healthy in-room facilities, from spa cuisine menus to special television fitness channels and yoga mats. At the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, there’s even a Plateau category of suites that are like minitreatment rooms; it’s the nearest you could hope to get to actually sleeping in a spa. ■ FIND of the week: Missed going to Beijing for the Olympics? Lounge , who is a sports tragic and has been glued at all hours to the box, addicted to the intricacies of everything from the clean and jerk to the pummel horse, notes that from early September, Selective Tours will add a tour of the Birds Nest Stadium and Water Cube Aquatic Centre to its Beijing program. From $375 a person in a three-star hotel for three nights to $428 for five-star accommodation. 1300 760 208; www.selectivetours.com. ■ LOUNGE loves: Hawaiian tourism bods owe Paris Hilton a flower lei and a blue cocktail or several for some unexpected publicity. Hilton’s spoof US election commercial, in which the dizzy bikini-wearing blonde nominates the island of Maui as the best place to tan, has clocked up more than 6 million hits at www.funnyordie.com. US-based CondeNastTraveler is happy, too, as Hilton waves about the magazine in the ad. Apparently the publishers have created a mock cover featuring Hilton to thank the anything-goes heiress for the plug. ■ LOUNGE loathes: Press releases are already arriving at the Travel&Indulgence desk suggesting hotel gift vouchers as Christmas gifts. Could the festive season really be that close? These and other money-saving offers are featured in Travel&Indulgence’s holiday deals, updated daily: ■ www.theaustralian.com.au/travel/dd DEALS OF THE WEEK Prices slashed on Sydney-Tahiti cruise; four-wheeldrive adventure discounted; yoga ‘‘ bootcamp’’ reduced; Club Med Maldives at half price.
Warm reception: The newly refurbished spa at Hyatt Regency Coolum on the Queensland Sunshine Coast boasts 18 treatment rooms in a stylish beach and bush location