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Published May 15th 2019
Choose your own adventure with wellness retreats
The Peninsula Hot Springs has introduced three new wellness retreats to elevate your thermal spa experience. Tailored to meet the needs of the absolute beginner to wellness enthusiast, these experiences are great for a mid-week getaway, mental health day, hen's weekend or corporate team building.
Aquatherapy - photo courtesy of Peninsula Hot Springs
On my recent visit, I experienced the Adventure Retreat which features a Fire and Ice workshop, Body Clay workshop, access to the bathhouse and included lunch, towel, robe, locker hire and a Peninsula Hot Springs water bottle all for only $150.
Oh the bliss of not having to do anything, but relax!
8.30 am Journey to Fingal
The journey to Fingal down the M3 is an easy 90 minutes from Melbourne if you take the correct exit to 'Portsea'. Your Wi-Fi may drop out, and if you reach Frankston, you need to re-route your GPS best to have a printed map of directions on hand as well.
Make sure you bring thongs for walking between hot pools and you can even bring a picnic if you want too. However, I recommend to just eat at the many cafes and coffee huts on site.
Parking at the bathhouse does fill up quickly, especially on weekends, so make sure you leave early with ample time so you don't rush as you are now on 'spa dreaming' time.
On arrival, we were greeted by our lovely concierge Mia, who provided us with warm and cosy bathrobes, a towel, waterproof wrist bracelet to access the automated lockers and a water bottle as hydration, hydration, hydration is vital when bathing in temperatures up to 42C. Mia then escorted us through the Wellness Centre, providing a program of our day, and pointed out the locations to meet for the workshops.
The program is perfectly curated so you have plenty of time to walk, rest and eat between experiences or grab a little power nap or siesta in the Moroccan tent or on one of the many recliners, hammocks, lounges or massage chairs.
First we ventured into the state of the art designed female change rooms which are just beautiful made of Australian native woods, with all the modern conveniences you could imagine native herbal hand washes and shower gels provided, and an amazing automated locker service all controlled by a waterproof wrist bracelet so convenient and included in the package.
Our first adventure was to try out the reflexology walk, which is literally walking on a range of pebbles with different textures and intensities quite a challenge if you have soft feet, but terribly therapeutic, as you wade through the lake pool under the forest canopy and relax in front of the lake view in the hydrojet pool to work on those muscular tight spots. We then ventured into the bathhouse, and up through indigenous native forest to the myriad of thermal pools from the hilltop overlooking Port Phillip Bay and the fields of Fingal across to Clay Ridge, the Bathing Gully and to the amphitheatre cafι for lunch.
11.30 am Eat like a God/Goddess
Lunch was simple, nutritious and divine. There is a selection of Buddha Bowls or warm dumplings, curries and other treats, including teas, coffee, chai, juices and smoothies.
Next on the menu was the Fire and Ice experience, which is based on contrast therapy, very popular in the Nordic countries and Russia (ice swimming) for challenging mitochondria at a cellular level with cryotherapy (vasoconstriction from extreme cold) and heat treatment in the sauna or spa (vasodilatation from extreme heat).
This is a perfect place for the winter months, to hibernate, reflect and sip on a golden latte or avocado smoothie.
First, we sat in the sauna to heat up, whilst our facilitator explained to us the origins and benefits of the Fire and Ice experience. Next, we waded into a cold pool for a few minutes to adjust to the cooler temperature and then went back into the sauna. In pairs, we then immersed ourselves into the cold plunge pool at -4C for 30 seconds, then back into the sauna again and into the cold plunge pool for a longer period. The idea of this experience is to increase your resistance to the extreme hot and cold temperatures through a slowly building up your exposure, which is beneficial for 'resetting' your energy levels. Melbourne football teams are often seen standing in icy waters of Port Phillip Bay after an intense training session or game, to reap the similar benefits.
I must admit I was both intrigued and anxious by the thought of plunging into the cold pool at -4C and treading water for 30 seconds. I was not sure how my body would react as I really do not enjoy cold. But I did it with the encouragement of my buddy and the workshop facilitator, and the result was spine tingling and refreshing.
1.30 pm Body Clay
Body clay workshop - photo courtesy of Peninsula Hot Springs
We then headed up to Clay Ridge for our body clay workshop where we painted our bodies with white clay and reflected on the ancient traditions of our indigenous Aboriginal brothers and sisters, who would perform similar rituals in women's and men's business. When the clay had hardened, we then painted ourselves and each other with red, green and brown clay, each with different healing properties and experimented with body art.
After forest bathing up to the hilltop spas and parading our body art to fellow bathrobians, we rubbed off the dried clay with our hands to exfoliate our skin and hair.
The final step was to turn on the thermal showers, which is water directly from the underground thermal spring to wash off the remaining clay this was a great experience as the water is hot, steaming and plentiful. We then ventured into an igloo to keep warm and our facilitator walked us through a meditation on what we had just experienced.
This was my favourite part of the day, and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Peninsula Hot Springs. The workshop is only $20 to enjoy, and it really makes your day and your skin and hair comes out beautifully soft and nourished plus you have lots of fun!
2.30 pm Siesta
Ah it was that time of the afternoon for a siesta, so we ordered dumplings and coffee and relaxed on the recliners overlooking the amphitheatre terrace in the afternoon sun, watching other enjoy a free aquatherapy class in the amphitheatre pools.
Hang up your bathrobe and immerse yourself in geothermal water
Originally designed based on the Japanese outdoor style onsens, the Peninsula Hot Springs now includes a Hamam (Turkish steam bath), cave pool, fire and ice caves, cold plunge pool (-4C), sauna, massaging showers, a moon viewing pool for late night bathing and hot thermal pool up to 42C.
Perfect for winter rejuvenation, you'll be doing yourself and your friends a favour by visiting and exploring the vast facility. In the making, will be a food bowl and glamping for the summer season so stay tuned for updates for subscribing to the Peninsula Hot Springs website.
Couple relaxing in spa - photo courtesy of Peninsula Hot Springs
The state of the art property now features immaculate bathrooms, showers and change rooms for males and females as well as families, and studios spaces dedicated to yoga and pilates. There is something for everyone and many spaces to retreat too, including the wellness centre for a specialised and private treatment.
Don't forget 22 June is an opportunity to petition the United Nations to declare World Bathing Day as an annual celebration of bathing in all cultures of the world see www.worldbathingday.org.