Sitting in the middle of farms and vines on the Mornington Peninsula, Woodman Estate is quite a trek for any city-dweller. The house-cum-hotel and its attached restaurant and day spa have one thing going for them as a business: attention to detail.
Case in point is my experience with a massage. I received it as a gift and it was only searching the website for the address on the way here that I saw just how much there was on offer. Along with my massage and high tea experience, patrons can select from tens of options to have the experience that suits them.
The first stop on arrival is the serene waiting room, where I fill in a form to warn them of any medical conditions and tell them what I'm after. The subtle smells of Australian bush oils scent the air and music plays gently in the background. It sets the tone nicely.
Led upstairs, I'm taken to another tranquil room and given instructions. The Kodo massage will incorporate two rituals designed to relax me and bring me into harmony with the land. It gets a little too new-agey for my taste but as they involve no effort on my part I'm happy to smile and nod. The first is the choosing of the scents (the hero's journey language is catching) and my nose chooses a reviving blend of lemon myrtle, juniper and bush mint. As they sound like the sort of cocktail I'd like to drink I tell my sinuses they've done well.
The next ritual is the burning of the leaves. It involves, unsurprisingly, burning some leaves. Eucalyptus smoke wafts across the room and I'm reminded how nice a smell it is. I need to attend more camp fires.
Paired with these rituals the massage takes on a more cleansing tone. Once we're done and I've wriggled my oily skin back into my clothes I'm led to the meditation room, where I'm given a cup of herbal tea (mint, yum) and a delicate little muffin flavoured with coffee and raspberry. I've no idea what it has to do with relaxation but it's a combination I'm going to try at home.
Woodman Estate Day Spa is up against stiff competition on the Mornington Peninsula, but they've managed to find the right tone. Their attention to detail brings ritual to a simple act, and it works. I walk away feeling placid, as though the anxieties of ordinary life are bouncing off me.