Spring into action
Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa has received a multimillion-dollar facelift; it’s now the country’s largest day spa, with communal mineralrich bathing pools and a selection of spa and beauty treatments beauty was finally assured. An additional $2.6m was promised by the Hepburn Shire Council and internationally renowned Cox Architects & Planners were signed up to oversee the project.
Two years later, the original, heritage-listed Edwardian building, with its vaulted ceiling designed to vent the carbon dioxide produced by an earlier pool, is virtually unrecognisable. Although original features have been retained and enhanced, the expanded structure houses wet and dry treatment areas, change rooms, individual mineral bath rooms and relaxation spaces.
A separate, ultra-modern bathing wing encompasses reception area, communal mineral water bathing pool, salt pool and spas, steam rooms, lounge and relaxation deck.
Today’s bathhouse — Australia’s largest day spa — is a sleek, contemporary and sophisticated new space befitting a century wellness escape.
‘‘ Many people who used the bathhouse before the refurbishment have come back to see it since it reopened and they’ve just walked in and gone, ‘ Oh my god’,’’ says sales and marketing manager Tania Jacobs.
‘‘ Things are going really well. We’re getting a lot of support from the locals, some of whom come three or four times a week, and we also
21st- get a lot of Europeans who are very used to the mineral bathing concept.’’
Those wishing to simply bathe in the communal pools can pay $15 for weekday access to the bathhouse (discounts are available for locals) or $30 at weekends. But there also is a mind-boggling range of products and therapies available to those who want to ramp up the experience: water therapies, body polishes, body masks and wraps, facials, a variety of massages, manicures, pedicures, fullday packages and more.
Due to a wardrobe malfunction (my bathing costume has inexplicably shrunk in the six months since I last wore it) I opt out of the communal bathing experience through respect for fellow spa-goers and choose instead a two-hour Indoceane treatment in the spa pavilion, which begins with a 30-minute soak in a one-person mineral bath in the privacy of my room.
Filled with 100 per cent mineral water, the bath is expected to ‘‘ promote increased physical and mental relaxation, increase endorphin production, normalise gland function and enhance immunity’’. As a bonus, according to the brochure, my psyche can expect to be enlivened.
I’m not sure about all that, but as I lie in this whisper-quiet room, using the bath salts and scrubs I’ve been supplied with, I relish the opportunity to sink into the steaming depths and completely switch off. No computer, no mobile phone, no mad rush to deadline. Time, I realise, is the ultimate luxury, and at this moment I can think of no better way to spend it than in the splendid environs of this sleek and elegant sanctuary.
Thirty minutes later, and with my normally tense and inflexible body now surprisingly malleable, I am being massaged, oiled, wrapped and soothed by therapist Kerrie. This luxurious 90-minute episode is capped off with a head massage so good I almost weep for joy.
After I’ve been coaxed reluctantly off the treatment bed, Kerrie delivers me to a relaxation area where I am dispensed a soothing pot of herbal tea. Encased in a fluffy robe, I sip tea, flick through magazines and ponder the thought of leaving this haven and entering the crisp, fresh Daylesford air.
I may be mistaken, but it seems my hibernating endorphins may finally have kicked into action.
Who’d have thought it? Like the old bathhouse, I’m feeling like a new woman. Michelle Rowe was a guest of Tourism Victoria and Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa.
Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa is about 80 minutes’ drive north from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport. The bathhouse is open daily for communal bathing in the relaxation pool and spa pool; $15, Monday to Thursday; $30, Friday to Sunday. Hydro and steam therapy treatments from $50. Private spa and beauty treatments in the Spa pavilion are available from $65. Excellent breakfasts, light lunches, coffee and cakes are available in the adjacent Pavilion Cafe. More: (03) 5321 6000; www.hepburnbathhouse.com.